"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Winter Shapes: Salvia, Sagebrush, and Spirea

Winter Shapes: Salvia, Sagebrush, and Spirea

From Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

SALVIA (Lamiaceae): With a name derived from the Latin, salvare (“to heal”), it is clear that some of the sages have a significant medical history. All have a powerful aroma, very clearly that of Lamiaceae to any reasonably experienced gardener or botanist, but also very different from each other. Indeed, it would be fair to say that there is probably as much difference in aromatics from sage to sage as among the scents of any other genus. The range of colour is also unrivalled….”

From The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (Vol. 1) by Liberty Hyde Bailey:

ARTEMISIA: A large genus of aromatic and bitter herbs and small shrubs, mostly in the northern hemisphere, and most abundant in arid regions. Leaves alternate, often dissected: heads small and mostly inconspicuous, numerous and generally nodding, with yellow or whitish florets… In the West, many of the species, particularly A. tridentata, are known as sage brush.”

From Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

SPIRAEA (Rosaceae): Once upon time this was a large genus, but the splitters have had their way, so Spiraea is down to around 80 woody plants found across cool temperate North America and Eurasia…. Spireas are deciduous shrubs of woodland edge and open damp habitats. All are long-lived clonal competitive shrubs, and some are able to sucker strongly to form thickets…. [The] plants contain salicylates and so have analgesic qualities. The genus is named after the Greek word for a plant used in making garlands.”


Spring must be on its way: bits of color are starting to appear!

The salvia (in the first six photos) has begun making new leaves, shedding purplish winter ones for freshened up green. Spirea (in the last six photos) has popped out some of its tiny white blooms, while showing off their bright yellow collars. Sagebrush (in the middle) doesn’t really have much color, but I liked the fluffy silver look mixed with some shadowy blues — the closest we ever got to ice-on-plants this year.

Thanks for taking a look!


    1. Dale

      Thank you! They’re one of my favorite signs of winter changing into spring; and they’re always a bit hidden among larger bushes or under trees, so they’re fun to hunt down!

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