Monday, February 2, 2015

Hummingbirds Are Requesting 'Black & Blue' Salvia

For the past 15 years we have grown and displayed the 'Black & Blue' anise sage (Salvia guaranitica) which is also known as Brazilian sage and hummingbird sage.  This plant is native to a broad range of South America and is not winter hardy for us.  We will usually secure about 50-100 of these plants for installation in various sunny areas, particularly in our reception garden.  This salvia blooms solidly for 4-6 weeks in summer with cobalt blue flowers and near black stems and calyces (hence the "black and blue" reference).  Blooming can be extended by snipping off spent flower stems to encourage more flowering (deadheading).  These photos do the plant justice in terms of coloration and visual impact. The leaves, when crushed, emit an anise-scented aroma.  Of all the plants we grow to attract hummingbirds, this is certainly in first place for frequency of being visited (see photos further below by Santos McGill).  The form of the flower is perfect for them to get nectar and we see lots of activity on and around these plants.  The bees seem to like it as well.  For capturing photos of hummingbirds at the gardens, Santos positions himself by this specific plant and will stand still for long durations of time until the hummingbirds accept his presence.  He can then snap such wonderful photos of the hummingbirds as seen below.  Full sun, good soil, adequate water, occasional fertilizer and late season deadheading (removing spent flower stalks) will result in impactful plants and a long period of bloom.  In it's native range, this salvia species will get 4'-5' tall.  In our summers, we'll see 'Black & Blue' get 30"-36" or so.  This variety is an easy "slam dunk" for attracting hummingbirds.

Despite the 10" of snow we had yesterday and all the subsequent snow removal efforts, we had a productive day at the Horticulture Center.  Larry and Bill O. did the majority of the snow removal and I lent some time to shoveling early this morning at the Parker Education Center.  Dick H. kindly plowed us out at the Horticulture Center and does a great job.  Urban and Del worked on processing lights while Dr. Gredler did some painting.  Vern, Dave, Jim, Ron  Y. and Bob K. continued work on their carpentry projects and Gary S. was in the office for some labeling work.  Janice continued her research on plants we'll be displaying at the Horticulture Center and we had many others pop by as well.  I continue to multi-task as my anxiety level rises with my "to do" pile exceeding my "completed" pile!  Slow winters?  Never.

 All hummingbird photos courtesy of Santos McGill

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