Pink Trees!

Cherry trees (and my almond tree) are blossoming all over the Willamette Valley in Oregon this week. Even though it’s been pouring rain it’s really hard not to be happy when one is surrounded by pink poofy trees.  🙂  All praises to Spring!

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Portraits of the Northwest

Some recent, and some not so recent, pictures of why my family and I love the Northwest.

Dalton Point

 

Starvation Creek

Silver Falls

Oregon Coast

Daly Lake

North Fork Santiam

Woods Near Idanha

Mt. Jefferson

Published in: on February 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Growing White Sage

The mild winter Oregon has experienced so far this year, despite forecasts, has me itching to get back out in the garden. So to save myself from digging ground that’s frozen in the morning and soupy in the afternoon, I’m going to just write about plants! One of my favorites to grow is white sage (salvia apiana) also known as bee sage and sacred sage. This is a drought resistant tender perennial and while it’s quite easy to care for in the garden, it’s unlikely to survive the winter in colder climates. However, once I did have a particularly magical plant, blessed by the local spirits, that lived outdoors in my garden for eleven years. Including being subjected to single digit temperatures and coated in at least a half inch of ice through four separate freezing rain storms. *shrug* I haven’t had one winter over outside since, including this year, so I’m going to assume this was the exception rather than the rule. I have grown them potted, but have yet to try bringing them in to winter for fear of contaminating my house plants with the seemingly immortal spider mites and white flies that abound here in the the summer.

If one manages to keep a white sage alive for more than one season, they get about three feet in height and width, and have woody stems with thick, oil rich leaves. White sage likes full sun and prefers a lighter, somewhat dry, well drained soil. The best way I’ve found to accomplish this if you have rich black or clay like soil is to dig a hole about one foot wide and deep where you want to plant the sage and then refill it with a half and half mixture of your soil and a bagged cactus planting mix. It isn’t a heavy feeder so routine fertilization should be enough. Unless you live in a desert climate, this plant shouldn’t require watering other than normal rain showers in the spring and fall and unless you experience very hot dry weather in the summer, one to two waterings a week should be more than sufficient. I should say though, white sage does not seem to wilt like most plants do when they need water, and instead the leaves will start to get a brownish, burnt look to them if temps stay near or above 100 for long periods or if it’s not getting enough to drink.

Like other sages, this one will begin to bloom in late spring to early summer producing small white flowers on tall spikes. These blooms can last for weeks, if not most of the summer. If you like to dead head your plants, I recommend cutting these spikes when you know you have some dry weather coming and be sure not to top water. As these stems are woody and hollow and I have learned this plant doesn’t appreciate having its stems full of standing water.

One of the many reasons I like to grow white sage aside from its striking appearance in the garden is because not only do the fresh leaves smell better, they also produce a lot more smoke. Not to mention the monetary savings in not having to purchase smudge sticks. Also it’s much less wasteful in that I can simply walk outside and pluck what I need, when I need it. This sage is also one of the reasons my favorite summer activity is weeding the herb garden. Just the slightest brush of skin or clothing against it and the scent will linger on me all day. Nothing seems to conjure the feeling of a midsummer night for me than being surrounded by the smell of lavender, rosemary, and white sage.

I buy my white sage plants here and have always been satisfied with their quality. They ship April through October and do also stock them in seed form. But unless your looking for a challenge or just enjoy exercises in gardening futility, I really recommend the plants. 🙂

Happy gardening!