Cedar Sage Sensation

Normally, I wouldn’t give Cedar Sage, Salvia roemeriana, much thought this time of year. A lovely perennial which reaches the zenith of its beauty during spring blooming time, the nice little winter rosettes,


…are fine-n-dandy, but not enough to ‘wow’ about now.   But it’s Wildflower Wednesday (thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting) and I’m going to gloat a bit because one of my Cedar Sage plants is in flower-power mode!IMGP5086.new

Mmmm. Gorgeous, brilliant red, tubular blooms!!  Such eye candy in a dappled shade garden!  Even more so as there’s almost nothing else abloom at the moment.

IMGP5091.new Normal flowering for this small, Texas native, pollinator-friendly perennial is spring to early summer, roughly April to June. The literature suggests that it blooms on and off throughout summer, though mine never blooms past June. That it’s blossoming in late January is odd–it hasn’t happened in my garden ever before.  In the public gardens where I formerly worked, I once saw a Cedar Sage with flowers in October and I was surprised and pleased at that out-of-season gift.

I’m not complaining about this January wonder–it was a lovely sight last week to see the flowers dancing above the winter rosette, during a rainy few days.IMGP5088.new

But it’s during late spring that this perennial acting-as-a-ground cover really dazzles.


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The scarlet blooms brighten the landscape and provide for a variety of pollinators.  I’ve never seen a hummingbird nectaring at the blooms, though Cedar Sage is considered a hummingbird plant.  As a member of the salvia species, you can bet it’s deer resistant and it’s a water-wise choice for the shade to dappled-shade garden.


After its typical flowering in spring, the seed heads remain attractive through most of the summer. I don’t prune  the stalks back until late summer, or even into autumn–just because I  let them seed out and I enjoy the spidery reach of the tawny stalks from the green basal leaves.


Clearly, I didn’t prune this plant back at all.


The Cedar Sage is so-called because it evolved to grow under the shade of Ashe JuniperJuniperus ashei–commonly called “mountain cedar,” “cedar,” or “damn cedar” (by those highly allergic to its pollen).    The foliage of the Ashe Juniper is fine, thus allowing the Cedar Sage seedlings to germinate easily.  According the the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plant data base information, Cedar Sage have trouble germinating under the canopy of large-leafed deciduous trees, owing to the fallen leaves blocking the seeds from soil (and light too, I suppose), thus preventing germination. That hasn’t proven true in my garden though.   The plant blooming now is under a non-native Arizona Ash tree, Fraxinus velutina, and the group in my back garden reside under a native Shumard Oak tree, Quercus shumardii.     Of course, I do rake up fallen leaves, but my gardens are well-mulched, so I imagine that I don’t get as many seedlings in the garden proper as I would if I didn’t mulch.  In fact, many of my Cedar Sage seedlings appear in adjacent pathways.  Regardless, there are always a few seedlings each winter from the previous  year’s crop of flowers and resulting seeds, and I transplant them to spread their crimson glory.

Cedar Sage is native to a large, but specific area of Texas–from Central to West Texas, in the Edwards Plateau ecoregion; their native range extends southward into northern Mexico.


If you live elsewhere, Cedar Sage might be available as a tender perennial or annual.  If you’re in Central to South Texas, it’s a must-have shade plant.


Thanks again to clay and limestone for promoting the beauty and practicality of native plants–click on over and check wildflower plants showcased this January, 2015.


Wildflower Wednesday, May 2014

Here in Austin, Texas, May is quite pleasant and we’ve enjoyed some rain.  Yipppy!  Even better, our lakes have received some of that rain.  Double yippy!  We’re still in drought and the lakes are low, but at least we’ve had some relief.  Central Texas wildflowers continue their seasonal segue into summer bloom.  Thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesday to encourage and celebrate gardeners utilizing regional wildflowers in their home gardens.

My Yarrow, Achilliea millefolium, is especially beautiful this year.


Yarrow is an excellent perennial for Central Texas.  It sports pretty white flowers which will fade to an attractive tawny brown as summer progresses.


PigeonberryRivina humilis, is a small, delicate looking ground cover with sweet flower spikes at the top of the stems.



Luscious red berries will develop after the blooms fade and those berries are favorites with many birds, including their namesake pigeons.

The combination of  pink Hill Country Penstemon, Penstemon triflorus,  sunny Engelmann’s (or Cutleaf) Daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, and deep blue ‘Henry Duelburg’ SageSalvia farinacea, continues its happy riot of color this spring.


Heartleaf Skullcap, Scutellaria ovata ssp. bracteata,



is a gorgeous, cool season ground cover.   It spreads prolifically, but is easily controlled by pulling up individual plants as needed.  With beautiful blue blooms and soft, grey-green leaves,


it fills in the late spring/early summer garden.  By mid-to-late July, Heartleaf Skullcap will be dormant, reappearing with cooler fall temperatures.

And always in my gardens: Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.


I don’t think a garden is complete without some variety of this endemic American perennial.

Planted with Engelmann’s Daisy,


or Heartleaf Skullcap,


or Zexmenia, it is a perfect companion plant in full-to-part sun conditions.


It’s a favorite flower for pollinators.



Purple Coneflower is the bomb.

The xeric  Zexmenia, Wedelia texana,  begins its long bloom cycle in May.


It’s another wildflower that pollinators prefer.



Even without a dinner companion, Zexmenia are lovely and tough perennials.


Planting native plants and wildflowers is the easiest and a beautiful way to a fabulous, regionally appropriate perennial garden.  Rip out your grass, plant native wildflowers and perennials and celebrate your sense of place in our world.


Happy Wildflower Wednesday!


Wildflower Wednesday, March 2014

I don’t quite know how I’ve missed this wildflower party before now, given my appreciation for wildflowers and native plants in general, but while reading Shirley’s most recent post at Rock-Oak- Deer, I realized her excellent profile of wildflowers was part of a bigger picture.  Duh.

Thanks to Gail at clay and limestone for hosting the monthly celebration of wildflowers of all sorts.  Though it’s my first post and a day late for this month, I’m in.

My Golden Groundsel (Packera obovata), is blooming and so cheery on this gloomy, wet day.  It’s an early blooming, tough little shade-loving perennial which  brightens up a woodland setting.


For more information about Golden Groundsel, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Native Plant Database page.

I have Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis) popping up all over my gardens.



The original couple of transplants were pass along plants gifted to me, so I’m not entirely positive that what I have is the S. occidentalis, though I think it is.  Check out the pages on Spiderworts or Tradescantia in the Native Plant Database and see for yourself how many are native  and available throughout North America.

The Columbines are finally starting their spring show–later this year than in the last few years.  I  have both the Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinkleyana),


and the native Wild Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis),


plus hybrids of the two.


Finally, the Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is in total bloom mode.



So far, we don’t have many butterflies or hummingbirds, but no doubt they’ll find this plant soon and feast, feast, feast.  This is a must-have vine for any gardener wishing to provide a food source for a variety of critters, insects and birds alike.

Thanks again  to Gail at clay and limestone for this chance to focus on and appreciate the  plants we have, native to where we live.