Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Friday, October 3, 2008

Beauty and The Bees

Salvia azurea v grandiflora
It's a bee magnet. This hungry bee was visiting very early  this  morning!

I'm not sure what your monitor is showing, but this blue is luscious. 

S azurea, Azure Sage or Pitcher Sage is a native of Tennessee.  Although, I have been confused by references to a Salvia azurea var azurea.   Salvia azurea var azurea is said to be a Southeastern native and S grandiflora is  found west of the Mississippi!  It is impossible to find azurea var azurea  in the trade!  Local growers are selling azurea grandiflora as a Tennessee native and experts in the field say the same thing!   I love it when  the experts aren't sure.


This is not my favorite photo, but I wanted you to see how floriferous this salvia can be.  Azurea began blooming several weeks ago and will bloom until a heavy frost puts a stop to it!  If you add him to your garden, be sure and give him lean, well drained soil and plant him toward the back of the border.   

This is a tall salvia, over six feet tall when forced to stand up! Right now he is a sprawling giant of a plant with stems covered in flowers. Azurea also tolerates heat, humidity and drought; which is the the best news for survival here!  I wish I had cut the plants back by 1/2 in late spring to keep it shorter and bushier.   Next year.

 Don't you think Azurea would look stunning planted with a low growing goldenrods, a blue-green grass like Little Blue Stem v  'The Blues' (photo of The Blues with The Susans) or even asters?   He is planted near the Gray Owl Juniperus virginiana and the colors look spectacular together.   The key is to remember that for most of the season he is flowerless, although not unattractive.  The squared mint stems have a delightful blue cast to them earlier in the season.



I can't say enough about what this plant brings to the garden... beauty and  the bees.  Bumble bees are the most frequent visitors.  Occasionally a skipper might visit,  but no other pollinators are as attracted to this flower as long tongued Bumble Bees!

He will grow just about every where....Western Prairies and plains from Nebraska  to Missouri south to Texas and eastward. Please try him, I don't think a color like this could ever disappoint!


And, because I promised Kathleen (Kasey's Corner) to post a photo of the  the Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) acorns this week.  Aren't they something else! 
.
Bur Oak is in the White Oak family and is very drought tolerant!  Yippee! Bur oak often dominates  sites with thin soils or heavy claypan soils.  Another yippee!  It is a magnificent tree with highly ridged bark.  If you want to know more about Bur Oak you can check out this post.

I wish you all a weekend of  rain or sunshine, which ever you need!

Gail

68 comments:

  1. Hi Gail, too wonderful for words is this salvia. You pushed some off on me when it was not in bloom, it looked like all the other plants, narrow leaf, tall and gangly, I was not impressed. But then it started blooming, with no watering by the way. What a fabulous color and very floriferous too, and my plant is just a little slip! You are so funny with the taxonomy, but whatever this plant is, everybody needs some! Your photos are exquisite, I am jealous. I need a new camera. ;->
    Frances
    http://fairegarden.wordpress.com/
    (still plugging)

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  2. That blue is wonderful and I have never seen an acorn such as that!

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  3. Frances! If you only knew how truly lazy my taxonomy research is...I bow to google!

    Now you are making me laugh! It is indeed narrow of leaf, tall and gangly, but the flowers are something else...and the bees! I knew you weren't sure why I was sending it home with you! Glad you got a good surprise. We are lucky our fall season is so long, folks up north don't get to enjoy the late bloomers like we do! Next year we need to remember to cut it back!

    Thank you, I was pleased with these shots of Salvia...it is not a cooperative flower when shooting close ups; all the sweet details disappear! Oh, my I would love a new camera...there are fantastic ones calling our names! See you!

    gail

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  4. I want some of those acorns!
    F

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  5. I will trade baby hemlock pinecones for them, do you have any of those?
    F I need to stop doing this and go to email. LOL
    f

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  6. Darla!

    How are you today?

    It is a pretty cool acorn. It's like a hairy little hat! Salvia azure is a fantastic blue...I wish the camera could catch the color...I would probably need filters, a better camera and photographer;->

    Gail

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  7. Frances,

    Keep it up...you inflate my numbers! I will collect them today! They are a pain to mow over.

    Gail

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  8. I've had that Salvia before and lost it. You're making me grieve for it all over again! It's not easy to find here, I think my last one came from a plant sale at the Wildflower Center in Austin. Hmmm, wonder when the Center's fall sale is?

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  9. Gail, I can certainly experience the beautiful blue (my monitor must be set to the correct settings). That top photograph with the bee is a stunner. (They all are.)

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  10. What a beautiful, true-blue! And yes, they would be gorgeous planted with The Susans. The acorns just beg to have something "crafty" done with them. ;)

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  11. Cindy, mcok,

    I am so sorry that you lost this beauty! Maybe it will be on sale! If I am able to collect seeds I will be glad to share! Salvia seed collecting will be a first! All advice is welcome!

    Gail

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  12. Yet another beautiful plant you have introduced us all too. I love it and will look for it. The blue showed up wonderfully on my monitor. Those acorns are too cool. I have never seen them. Way neat!

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  13. Funny you should post a burr oak acorn. I picked one up this morning while out walking with Luna. I always look forward to finding these big odd looking acorns.

    Your blue salvia is gorgeous. I want some. I wonder if it grows here.

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  14. jan,

    Glad to hear that! It is so pretty and the bees make me smile. I just want to pet them and actually have when they are still sleeping on cooler mornings! Try it! But not with the honeybees, they really don't like to be touched!

    gail

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  15. Nancy, it is a true blue, not often found in the garden.
    Something crafty? Would you like me to collect some for you? ...I am very uncrafty!

    gail

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  16. Tina,

    Growild is having an open house October 18...all trees on sale. But they usually let you purchase plants, too!
    You could get the Salvia there or go on the list to get seeds or seedlings from me!

    Gail

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  17. Lisa,

    The Salvia will grow in Nebraska and Illinois so I am guessing it will grow for you! Finding it might be the issue...again, no promises of success, but I will try to collect seeds.

    The Bur Oak is a favorite tree here in the thin clay soil!
    We love its acorns, too.

    Gail

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  18. What a gorgeous Salvia. It is hard to capture certain shades of blue on the camera. I notice that with my Gentian & Salvia 'Black & Blue', the camera fades their vibrant color to a paler version. That would look great with the Goldenrod or the Blackeyed Susans. I love Yellow & Blue together!

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  19. Racquel,

    It really does fade away...this looks true on my monitor! The blue and yellow is classic and beautiful. Question? Was the move to WP difficult? I am in the process but not sure if I want to give up my 'press this button' relationship with blogger!

    Gail

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  20. What a nice salvia! I like the blue color as apposed to the purples of most of my salvias. Did you get it at a nursery or find it wild?

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  21. That Salvia looked beautifully blue on my monitor. What a great color. I recall reading something about Bumblebees being attracted to blue flowers.
    The house I grew up in was surrounded by Burr Oaks. I miss their fringed cups & giant acorns.

    BTW, my slightly dyslexic typing made it come out "Saliva" b4 I fixed it.

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  22. The acorns of the Bur oak are fascinating! Never seen acorns like that. And the blue Salvia is...gorgeous!
    Have a nice weekend!
    Katarina

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  23. What an incredible shade of blue. We have an American campanula that grows wild here that reminds me of your sage but the blue isn't as lucious. I can imagine it growing amongst tall yellow helianthus, ummmm.

    I'll look into it and see if it grows in my zone.
    Marnie

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  24. What a pretty blue and it's good to see you keeping those bees busy :)
    Love those acorns, by the way. I never saw anything like them and that one has a face!

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  25. That blue is incredible on my monitor but WAY more fascinating to me than your lovely photos of the salvia & bumblebee is, of course, those ACORNS! OMG, mine do not look a thing like them. What is up with that? I will have to photograph mine now and show you! I'm starting to wonder if they are just not developing for some reason? My dad told me once that an oak tree had to be a certain age to produce acorns?? My tree is only about 12 years old if that has any impact. My tree guy is coming back next week, we'll see what he says. Thanks SO MUCH for posting the photo. I wish I had some even more now, they are so fringey (sp?) and fantastic. Also a thank you for the link!

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  26. I became so unhappy with my pineapple sage doing nothing all season long that I cast it aside till I learn it doesn't bloom until Sept. It is so ironic because I'm always looking for something to extend the season.
    Duh!
    Donna

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  27. What a beautiful shade of blue. Having to wait so long for it to bloom, it more than makes up with it's color. You said it's hard to find-so where did you get it? Thanks for sharing this lovely bee magnet.

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  28. Dave, I wish it was growing in my little wooded area...I had to find this one at Growild...the native plant nursery in Fairview! I recommend it!

    Gail

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  29. MMD,

    I am glad it is showing up blue, so often the blues are really lavender looking...I make those typing errors all the time! It would have been a good chuckle if you hadn't caught it! This plant would look good in your front Prairie bed! Check out Illinois Wildflowers website.

    Gail

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  30. That first picture is contest-worthy. I love fall when the bees are slow and lumbering, it makes them easier to photograph. But just because they pose doesn't mean our pictures come out looking like that one of yours!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

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  31. Beckie,

    Isn't it a charmer! We are so lucky to have a native plant nursery and grower nearby. They are also licensed to grow TN Coneflower. There are a few online/catalog nurseries that carry it...Plant Delight and Niche Gardens are two I can say have great plants.

    Gail

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  32. marnie,

    How much further north are you from Chicago? Illinois Wildflower website lists it as a native plant. It is one of my favorite blue plants and the bees are all over it all the time....I didn't know they liked blue flowers, that is good to know.

    Gail

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  33. Cindy,

    I am so glad you saw the face, I did too! We are right brained people...of course I am generalizing!

    The bees are so happy buzzing around the salvia all day.

    Gail

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  34. katarina,

    Thank you...It is sunny and cool and we will all enjoy the blue skies...even though we want rain! The acorns are quite large...not quite 3 inches. I like the fuzzy tops, too. Have you seen the Rumskalla Oak in Vimmerby?

    I looked it up! I knew you would get a kick out of my mentioning a famous Oak tree in Sweden!

    Gail

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  35. kathleen,

    Is it possible he made an error in id-ing the tree...they all look so much alike! I spent some time at an Oak Id site (there really is one) to figure out a few of the oaks I have and guess what! I only remembered Bur!

    I am going to be collecting a few for Frances and anyone else who wants them...do you want a few?

    Gail

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  36. Donna/Mother,

    Some of the salvias are slow pokes! I just today (!) noticed the Pineapple Sage has some buds! We are fortunate that we have a long season for Salvias. Did you toss it in the compost or just aside?

    Gail

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  37. Carol,

    thank you...that was a beautifully composed sentence wrapped around a nice compliment..You are a very good writer;-)

    The bees are pokey and spirited these days... I did interrupt a fight earlier. Two especially chubby boys were not happy with each other! As you can see there is plenty of flower...they seemed to want the same one!

    Gail

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  38. Hi Gail,
    A very pretty blue on my screen! There are so many salvias with purple hues but not so blue as your
    Azure Sage. I'll have to do some research to see if it will do okay here. You mentioned Texas but that isn't always an indicator for here. I'm sure I've not seen it in our local market.

    How wonderful it blooms for weeks. Salvias are tough characters for the most part. Love your bee photos too.

    I'm still making cuttings from my Salvia Coccinea (red ones)and creating more plants of the drought tolerant pretties.

    Have a great weekend... we need rain but likely not getting any until maybe(?) next week.
    Meems

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  39. Hi Gail, That is the most magnificent blue I've ever seen. I sure would like to have that in my garden. I have some salvia that is blue but I doubt it is the same as yours. I mixed them in a pot with pink petunias. I like the look--it seems pleasing. Just testing--like trying out different color combination's.
    I just finished a new bed that I mixed red, pink & variegated pink/white dwarf azaleas moved from other locations. Next spring there will be some other flowers in with those.
    Do you think it would grow here in Fl.?

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  40. Gail, I forgot to mention that I have never seen acorns that look like that. Does the cap come off?
    Boy, what a crafty person could do with those. I personally would love to just see one.

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  41. My monitor shows the most beautiful shade of blue! Thanks for all the info about this plant; it sounds like a perfect plant to put in my new "natural" garden (provided I get it prepared by next spring). It's not often you see a true blue flower.

    Enjoyed the photos of the Bur Oak acorns--I missed your post about the Bur Oak, probably because I had barely started blogging at that time. I just discovered that the huge oak in our front yard is a Bur Oak, too.

    We need rain, too!

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  42. meems,

    Blogger keeps hiccuping my comments away. It is a nice blue color...I was just shooting more photos of it and the biggest bee...probably a carpenter bee stopped by to visit me, buzzing in my ear, threatening, but totally harmless! They are so big!

    Florida shows up m the US Ag site for Salvia azurea, so you might try it. You will love the critters of Critter Whisperer.

    Gail

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  43. Lola,

    Let me know your address and I will send you a few! You can email me...it's in my profile. There will be plenty for everyone including the squirrels. They are happy with the Hickory Nuts right now.

    Gail

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  44. Rose,

    It will perfect in your natural garden and it is very happy in Illinois! Such a lovely blue, too.

    Do you love the Bur Oak? It is such a wise tree...it never buds before the last frost and has survived the drought with flying acorns!

    Gail

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  45. I didn't plant mine Gail, so it's possible it could be another but I've had three different (knowledgeable) parties all tell me it was a Bur Oak. Thank you so much for offering to send me some acorns. Could be the only way I'll get some, huh? For now, I'll pass, hoping next year will be different....

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  46. I love salvia, and yours is stunning! I have bog salvia, but it has white and sky blue blooms. I have it growing with helianthus angustifolius -- we think alike on those color combos, but your blue is much better! I'd love to get the pitcher sage. Cameron

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  47. Beautiful blue and drought plant too! My kind of beauty! Cool looking nuts there...

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  48. My monitor must be calibrated correctly, because the salvia is a gorgeous blue.
    I especially love it when extra fat bumblebees try to squeeze themselves into narrow flowers, their rounded back ends wiggling back and forth.

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  49. So this might be a weird question--how does the salvia smell? I have black and blue and uliginosa (I've totally misspelled that, I fear), and they are incredible bee magnets (and hummers, too!) But they smell a little off. Still, the blue is incredible!

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  50. Kathleen,

    I wonder what is up with the acorns! I did read that Oaks can hybridize but I don't have any idea what that means or if it is true. But I will send you some acorns!
    Just let me know!

    Gail

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  51. Cameron,

    I am pretty sure that I saw Bog Salvia in RI at Blithewold Garden. It was over 6 foot tall and used as a centerpiece in the Display Garden. Boy did the bees love it. There are a few nurseries that offer it if you can't find it near you. I love the fall blooming salvias, best.

    Gail

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  52. skeeter,

    More and more we need to think about drought tolerant plants, sigh! I know you hear me on this one!

    The acorns are cool, too!

    Gail

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  53. Northern Shade,

    So true, they are funny trying to fit into the corolla! The bigger bees like the Carpenter haven't a chance to fit inside the salvia. But it doesn't stop them!

    Gail

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  54. Cosmo,

    I haven't noticed a fragrance at all, but I will pay attention tomorrow! The stems and leaves might have a fragrance when brushed up against like all the other sages and mint plants. Cameron was just referencing the ulignosa...bog salvia. Hmm, I might need to look into that one, well, except for the bog reference! Not a chance of a bog near here!

    Gail

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  55. If I figure out what is going on, I'll be right over to share. Thanks again for offering some acorns and for posting the photo.

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  56. kathleen,

    It will be interesting to find out what your tree people think! Speaking of tree people, it's time for an arborist to visit...this has been a tough season for trees.

    Gail

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  57. A truly beautiful plant, and I loved reading and learning about it! Thanks so much! The blues are harder to come by in a garden than the reds and yellows...I would love to have this one. I like your idea of where to plant it, next to complementing plants. And that burr oak is really something! I've never seen acorns like that before!

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  58. Tilelady,

    The Bur Oak and the acorns are favorites of mine!
    The azure blue is especially nice. I am so glad that everyone is enjoying it. Native plants are often more attractive then we think they will be! love showing them to you all!

    Gail

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  59. Hi Gail! Beautiful blues. I was at a local nursery a couple of days ago and saw "Black and Blue." My it was tempting to get it, but it will be there next Spring. ;-)

    After reading the comment about the acorn face, I had to run back up to look at it. It does have a face... did you ever make hollyhock dolls? Its face reminds me of that. :-)

    Happy day!! Shady G.

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  60. shady,

    I never made Hollyhock dolls. Now I am going to have to google them. The face is there!

    Black and Blue will over winter here if the winter isn't too severe, the same with a few other salvias. We could take stem cuttings and propagate them, but storage is a problem for me. No basement.

    Have a great week,
    Gail

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  61. I have decided to become a Master Naturalist and also join the Native Plant Society....I am very much looking forward to growing and learning about native plants! I am always awed by what you post, and learn so much!

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  62. Tile Lady,

    That is a super plan! Please let me know all about it when you get into the training! Native plants always made sense to me. Thank you for again giving me the best gift a garden blogger can get...letting me know that something I've written has been helpful!
    Gail

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  63. I love that beautiful blue. I have a couple of blue salvias myself but not that species.

    I've never seen acorns like those. How unique they are!

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  64. Burr oaks are interesting... they look like little doll heads somehow. Like if they made little Ent dolls, these would be fabulous heads for them!

    I love The Blues, as you know, but I really like that sage of yours. That it's a native as well seems too good to be true somehow...

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  65. Just popped over tonight to gaze at the acorns once more. They haven't lost their appeal since the last time I looked. Wishing and hoping I figure out what's wrong so my tree produces them too. My tree guy came on Saturday to do the iron injections (while I was gone with my daughter to her horseback riding lesson), so I am none the wiser still.

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  66. Gail,
    I may have to order some of that gorgeous salvia! I've certainly never seen it locally in Austin, and salvia is one of our "staple" plants. However, I haven't planted much of it, because I didn't really like the color choices we have (reds and dark reds mostly, with black/blue occasionally). YOUR salvia rocks! Perhaps I can find a Tennessee grower to ship it to me. Thanks for the pics and great info.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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