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Sensational Salvias: Much More Than Those Fantastic Flowers!

By HamiltonSquare
September 15, 2015

Hamilton Square Perennial Garden is one of three large gardens thriving in the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery. It is an all-volunteer labor of love. The concept of a garden cemetery may strike some as unusual, but it is now a much lovelier place to rest in peace or to just visit than in its past incarnation as a derelict and vandalized city-owned property. Hamilton Square has upwards of 50 Salvias. Here are a few with qualities that bring as much joy as their flowers.

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Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Sep 26, 2014 5:02 AM CST
Nice article! I don't have a lot of salvia, but I love the scent! These pictures make me want to add pineapple sage. I just read that all sages are salvias. True? If so, I have Russian Sage scattered here and there and always love to brush my hand against it to smell it.
Vickie
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Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
The WITWIT Badge Region: California Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Xeriscape Native Plants and Wildflowers Salvias
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HamiltonSquare
Sep 26, 2014 6:53 PM CST
Thank you. Russian Sage is not a Salvia it is a Perovskia. We grow Perovskia atriplicifolia here. It looks great right up until we prune it in winter.
Hamilton Square Garden, Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento California.
Name: Lauri
North Central Washington (Zone 5b)
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lauribob
Sep 27, 2014 9:51 AM CST
How interesting - the scent is exactly what I don't like about the couple of salvias that I have. I don't know if I've just chosen cultivars that happen to have a bad smell (think cat pee) or if my nose is malfunctioning. I love the look of them, but hate weeding around them. I have noticed that occasionally some flowers that are supposed to be 'very fragrant' have no odor to me at all, and have asked friends to take a whiff of a bloom that I think smells wonderful and had them be nonplussed. Who knows how a nose works! I do like the smell of the culinary sage I have. Excellent article.
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Name: Karen Skedgell-Ghiban
Nashville, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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Tepelus
Sep 27, 2014 5:41 PM CST
Our local cemetery started a memorial garden that I've been working on throughout the summer. I started by planting annuals and then expanded with perennials, grasses, and shrubs, plants that either I bought or brought from my own gardens. I've gotten many compliments on my work, and I do my best to keep it weeded, though with my job my time and energy always seems to be spent, plus I have my own gardens to take care of. I'm already thinking of expanding, but I'll let what is out there grow and see how it does through the winter. So far it's doing well, the rain we've had has really helped the plants to establish.

With the sandy soil and rabbits and deer, I have to be choosy as to which plants to grow out there, and some of those are salvias. I planted the annual red flowering saliva in the spring but the deer or rabbits kept eating them down to the ground, except for one patch by the arbor. So I know I can't grow those. But the perennial ones they haven't touched so far (Carodonna, Rose Queen, and Transylvanian sages). They haven't touched any of the perennials, actually, except for a little nibbling on the phlox. I have spread Milorganite around the plants so maybe that has helped deter them, since I read critters don't like the smell.
Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
The WITWIT Badge Region: California Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Xeriscape Native Plants and Wildflowers Salvias
Foliage Fan Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Bee Lover Hummingbirder Butterflies
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HamiltonSquare
Sep 29, 2014 8:47 AM CST
Lauribob .....Many of the Salvia have an off-putting foliage odor but other attributes easily make up for it. We have a few with scented flowers but only one is impressive to me. That would be Salvia melissodora. The flowers smell like grape Nehi soda. The leaves do also to a lesser extent. The flowers are a lavender/puple too!
Hamilton Square Garden, Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento California.
Name: Leslieray Hurlburt
Sacramento California (Zone 9b)
The WITWIT Badge Region: California Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Xeriscape Native Plants and Wildflowers Salvias
Foliage Fan Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Bee Lover Hummingbirder Butterflies
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HamiltonSquare
Sep 29, 2014 9:14 AM CST
Hi Karen. The cemetery gardening is my 'Habit'. I'm an apartment dweller so I get my gardening fix at the cemetery. We have a little foothill town where they are following this trend of renewing an old cemetery and planting it. It is at 2600 feet and they also have the critter problems you do. It started with the interest in the old historic roses that were there. Joy Feller and Kathy Hammes saw an opportunity to do what has been done here in Sacramento. They have put in more roses and perennials and bulbs. That cemetery from the 1850's is, other that what they have done, all bare earth, weeds, ironworks and crumbling concrete for as long as I can remember. I was so thrilled and surprised to see there work there because it is my family cemetery! They have Salvia sylvestris ,S. 'Hot Lips' and some gregii, I think. All seem to do well year to year. Volunteering for a civic purpose is worth making the time for if you can spare it. Thumbs up
Hamilton Square Garden, Historic City Cemetery, Sacramento California.

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