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Common garden sage, Salvia officinalis, is a staple in the herb garden and a plant for all seasons.

Salvia officinalis varieties.

Even after a heavy frost, the stalwart perennial sage plant stands erect in the garden. It shows its elegant silvery grey color even in winter reminding us that next spring it will give us fragrant lavender flowers.

Common garden sage, Salvia officinalis, is a staple in the herb garden and a plant for all seasons. The genus Salvia contains both aromatic and non-aromatic varieties, and the name is from the Latin word meaning “safe” or “healthy.” There are over 700 species, both annuals and perennials. All like well-drained, dry locations in sun. Since the thick leaves retain moisture they should be dried in the open air, not in a covered container.

It’s good to have some of the culinary types on hand in November, as sage is a traditional element in turkey stuffing. It was thought by the Chinese to be a symbol of immortality, but this obviously doesn’t apply to turkeys. Sage was also believed to aid digestion and so is traditionally used in recipes with fatty meats such as sausage and liver.

In 1633, John Gerrard wrote that,

“Sage is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses of memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have palsy and taketh away shakey trembling.”

All these virtues, and wonderful flowers in the spring, as well!

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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