Beach salvia against the bleak midwinter

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa



Cape Town is now locked in the grip of a second very cold front. We even have snow on Table Mountain with more to come. Perhaps when the weather clears, there will be snow lying on our Elephant’s forehead. Between cold fronts we had blue sky and sun after the rain. I caught my sun-captured photos while I had a brief window of opportunity.

Salvia africana-lutea bud in lime, lemon, toast and marmalade
Salvia africana-lutea bud
in lime, lemon, toast and marmalade



As we wait for the property market to come to life after winter, I plan that future garden at our one day False Bay home. Choosing a plant for there, from our garden in Porterville.

Beach salvia bud
Beach salvia bud

Beach salvia. Dune salvia. Bruinsalie. Sandsalie. Strandsalie. Salvia africana-lutea. In Camps Bay, Porterville and False Bay – this sage is in my garden chosen for the burnt orange flowers. My August choice for the False Bay Dozen for Diana.

Salvia africana-lutea flowers
Salvia africana-lutea flowers

Once it was growing in my garden I learnt to treasure the calyx which lingers LONG after the mere flowers are a fleeting faded fallen memory. First a burnished burgundy, blood and guts if you get too close. Fading to a metallic bronze.

Strandsalie calyx
Strandsalie calyx

The camera showed me yet another range of colours in the buds. Lime to lemon to toast to marmalade.
 
Belle Epoque rose Beach salvia calyx last November
Belle Epoque rose
Beach salvia calyx last November
The leaves emerge green, then settle to gentle silver. Neatly regimented in alternating pairs of leaf buds, which become four geometric ranks.

Salvia africana-lutea leaves
Salvia africana-lutea leaves

When we planted Paradise and Roses, I had a pair of beach salvia in my Autumn Fire bed – that range of burnt orange inspired colours perfect for my theme. But. Those plants grow huge, towering over my head if left to themselves. Had to move them across to the waterfall, where we had a new open patch to plant.

Beach salvia in the centre at Rest and Be Thankful
Beach salvia in the centre
at Rest and Be Thankful

There are a few seedlings coming up in the gravel path – if I can catch them before the Ungardener comes thru on a weeding frenzy.

On the left Salvia africana-lutea with a little Dusty Miller, looking across to Paradise and Roses
On the left Salvia africana-lutea
with a little Dusty Miller, looking across to Paradise and Roses

This shrub is tough ; flourishing thru the worst a Porterville summer can throw at it (or later against salt sea breezes and sandy soil). Nectar attracts sunbirds and butterflies – from Kumbula Nursery. Bridging the gap when proteas are not in flower. Found on coastal sand dunes from Namaqualand down to the Cape Peninsula and up again to Port Alfred. Can be used as a tea against coughs, or in potpourri. South Africa has 38 of the world’s thousand species of Salvia - from PlantZAfrica. I watched a Cape white eye working thru the bush, as I sat on the bench with my breakfast.

Dozen for Diana leaves to August
Dozen for Diana leaves to August

Dozen for Diana flowers to August
Dozen for Diana flowers to August

I’d love to know which plant holds your attention in your August garden. Beth @ PlantPostings in Wisconsin is supporting migrating monarch butterflies with whorled milkweed. Donna @ Garden'sEyeView in NY State has bees visiting the ‘ear of grain’ flowers on her anise hyssop (in the mint family with my beach salvia).

Pictures and text by Diana Studer (on Google Plus)
AKA Diana of Elephant's Eye (on False Bay)
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over teal blue text,
it turns seaweed red.Those are my links.)

Comments

  1. I vaguely remember reading on you blog that the ungardener liked accidental plants like seedlings in the path. He even had a special word for them. Or am I confused? Beautiful photographs!

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    Replies
    1. yes, the Ungardener's free-spirited plants. How wonderful that you remember that!

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  2. Such a beautiful photo of the Salvia africana 'Lutea' where you look across to Paradise and Roses. The beach Salvia and the Belle Epoque rose, such a beautiful combination. You surely must plant these Salvias in your new garden.

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  3. That colour would look perfect with my other burnt orange flowers in the back bed, but Salvia always need more water than I think.... Interesting it flowers for you in winter.

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    1. this Salvia certainly flourishes without any watering. Says she, as the winter rain buckets down.

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  4. What a fascinating array of shapes, colors, unfamiliar to my eye, growing a lushness just off kilter from my less exotic Central Coast, CA.
    I love all your names for things, and what a place you're in. To speak so casually of moving something 'by the waterfall'...fabulous! The pond and dock a lovely tribute to your gardener's enthusiasm that so much work has been done and so much thought given around that incredible idyll. Thanks for this, great treat.

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  5. I like the Beach Salvia! I'm sure I would grow it in my garden if I lived in South Africa! It won't survive my winters, but I wonder if it would be a good annual for my summer garden?

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    Replies
    1. they say - it will sprout from the rootstock if frosted, but prefers some protection. I would imagine you could overwinter cuttings in a greenhouse? As with pelargoniums.

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  6. A red admiral was feeding on the daphne. (Christchurch, NZ)

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  7. Beautiful Diana. I have a fondness for orange and that Beach Salvia plant I am very fond of. I would say here in my garden in Autumn the Obedient Plant takes stage along with the Joe Pye. A couple days ago I enjoyed watching three hummingbirds vying between the Obedient Plant patch, trumpet vine and Mexican sunflowers. Just this morning I enjoyed watching the sparrows eat the tufts of Joe Pye seed. I also love the business of the Cutleaf Coneflower and its many seeds - first the bees, than the birds. All are blooming right now and very tall, until the birds bend them to the earth.

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  8. I like the rusty colors of your beach salvia. I have to think about what plant holds my attention in the August garden. August is a tough month here, and many plants are just holding on, waiting for cooler temperatures to arrive with autumn. I would have to say my red banana, Ensete ventricosum 'Maurellii', for its fabulous foliage, which I can see from inside my house as well as from the patio.

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  9. A thousand species of salvia! That's extraordinary. I had no idea! These toast and marmalade colours are beautiful.

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  10. I am beginning to love orange. I need much more of it in my garden, methinks.

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  11. The photo of your pond (and pier!) is wonderful.

    Salvia are the best. I don't think I've ever seen Salvia africana-lutea, but now I'll keep my eyes open for it. Will it root well, if I see some and pinch a bit? Anything that blooms in shades of orange is valuable to me.

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    Replies
    1. 'easily propagated by stem cuttings' says PlantZAfrica, and I know you have green fingers, Cindy.

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  12. You made the most of your window of opportunity, Diana. Orange was my least favorite color until recently. Now I find myself adding more and more orange flowers to my garden with good effect. P. x

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  13. Beautiful Belle Epoque rose. Definitely living up to its name.
    For the month of August I concentrated on my new collection of native orchids. Not as pretty or showy as the more famous orchids but if you know me you know that I have different aesthetics for plants.

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    Replies
    1. I'm with you, species over horticultural horrors, every time! Our native orchids would include the Disa.

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  14. Diana I really love the orange blooms of this salvia...so unusual. A perfect addition to your Dozen. Stay warm.

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  15. Its time for winter to end and for the long hot days of summer to return. I need to start preparing my garden for the summer but work is keeping me so busy that when I get home I just want to vegetate.

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  16. Quite an assortment of colours. It gives lungwort a run for its money.

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  17. The Solidago 'Fireworks' is earning its name right now, and the fuchsia 'Golden Gate' continues to bring the hummers right onto our deck. It's a little disconcerting when they buzz bomb us or hover a few inches from our faces.

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