Striking sage

Salvia canariensis is a strong-growing, tall plant with the grey, soft, felt-covered, arrow-shaped leaves. Come summer it excels itself, producing spikes of deep magenta-pink flowers. Apart from appealing to sunbirds and pollinators, they make excellent cut flowers, too.  They are ideal for a sunny spot at the back of a border.

We will have a few of these stunners at our Open Gardens Constantia plant sale tomorrow and Saturday.

Photo and text: Marianne Alexander

Advertisements

Comfrey – the wonderplant

Looking for comfrey plants? We will have some of this hard-to-find, all-purpose herb at our plant sale on Friday and Saturday.

Garden accent, healer, compost activator, green mulch and liquid fertilizer, all in one plant.

Apart from its reputation as a healing herb (one of its common names is knitbone), comfrey – Symphytum officinale and cultivars –  is also a good compost activator (add a layer of leaves to your dry, brown matter). Its leaves’ high nitrogen and potassium levels make it an excellent green mulch, too. Steeped for six weeks, a comfrey tea is a good liquid fertilizer (and about as smelly, in its own way, as seaweed).

5 comfreyComfrey’s attractive, bold leaves make it a useful accent or contrast plant in the garden. The more common specimens have purple flowers, but some produce remarkable blue blooms.5 C5 omfrey herb JENNY F 5 DSC_0051 (58)

Got tickets to Open Gardens Constantia? Follow the link for more info.

Photos: Marianne Alexander. Text: Marianne Alexander, Marie Viljoen.

Kruidjie-roer-my-nie

The botanical name of  indigenous Melianthus major is a real mouthful but not nearly as bad as its Afrikaans common name: kruidjie-roer-my-nie. If you can’t get your tongue around either, just call it the giant honey flower.

The striking grey leaves with their giant serrations (below, paired with Perilla ‘Magilla’) provide an interesting contrast in the garden – but do have a rather unpleasant smell when crushed – hence the name!

perilla magilla

But what most gardeners grow it for are the long bronze-maroon flower-spikes which develop in spring  and act as magnets to any bird with a sweet beak: sunbirds, bulbuls, weavers, and white eyes all flock to them. The seed pods are also attractive, providing additional interest in an off-season garden border.

Left on the plant to dry, the seeds result in lots of baby plants. We saved some from our garden for the Open Gardens Constantia plant sale.

(The plant has toxic properties, so keep leaf-chewing pets and voracious toddlers away.)

Photos: Marianne Alexander, Marie Viljoen. Text: Marianne Alexander