11 October 2012

Pineapple Rag

So I found myself in Delaplane Virginia for the annual spring strawberry festival. Disappointed that the strawberries bering sold were Driscoll's imported from California (and higher priced than the same in the grocery stores), I headed for the craft booths. I wandered down Booth Row and through the endless assortment of hummingbird and butterfly stained glass, country dolls, soap, and banners (I am probably insulting some readers here), and found a corner vendor selling plants.

The herb table was most interesting. I picked up a Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) and chatted with the owner who pointed out its virtues and its growing requirements. So it will grow into a small bush, cuttings can be taken, and it will die in the fall.

It was planted in my hillside, side south-facing garden and pretty much forgotten about. Once in a while, I picked off a leaf to enjoy the pineapple scent. And, I was fond of picking one off for any visitors (on a garden 'tour' before dinner) to enjoy. Internet indications are that it makes good tea and pina colada garnishments.

Leaves were always light chartreuse and stood out next to the castor and rosemary plants. Its color seemed to be a theme in the back yard without trying (St. John's Wort, hostas, coleus.) And then this month, it began blooming.

To say the red on the Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) is brilliant is an understatement. Only two other plants have this red intensity at this time of year - cosmos and crocosmia, and my crocosmia died years ago. The 18-inch high (50 cm) plant filled in without trimming. The square stems and blooms are a giveaway as a mint family member. In fact, I noticed the flowers look like salvia, which (wow) is in the botanical name.

Indications on internet sites are that the plant dies down at frost, but the root clump remains viable over winter to my zone (7A). Since I have enough going on bringing plants indoors during the fall, I think I will test out this overwinter theory and just mulch the roots for the winter.

I am please with the outcome of this purchase. And will even look at pineapple sage recipes if it comes back next year. Pineapple sage salsa anyone?

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with some organic amendments
  • Full sun
  • No fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: canna, mexican zinnia, zinnia, sage, aster
  • Harvested: 2 tomatoes, 1 radish


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...
Your photo of the bloom really showcases that bright bold red, lovely!!
Northern Shade said...
I like the contrast of its light green leaves with the blue green and fine rosemary plant. It is nice to have some plants that beginning flowering late, to give you something to watch out for in the garden. Will you take a clipping as a back up for next year, or just go with the overwintering in the ground?
Swimray said...
I actually toned down the red in the photo with Photoshop

It was a happy accident... I will take one cutting to root, otherwise the plant will remain over winter and hopefully be larger next year.
Anonymous said...
I agree that the leaf color was interesting, and assume it was this way all summer?