Salvia sclarea CLARY SAGE –
Billowing big clouds of flowers
Large branching clouds with shades of pink-lilac-cream, billow up from mid spring right through summer.
As the blooms are actually made up of bracts, they are wonderfully long lasting and weather hardy, even in the hottest times.
Salvia sclarea CLARY SAGE is spectacularly pretty but iron tough.
Leaves are huge, hairy, wrinkly, velvety, and utterly gorgeous
Eye-catching grey-green leaves make decorative rosettes of foliage that hug the ground. Clary Sage is certainly not just a pretty flower show. The foliage is enough reason for growing it. But then when it billows up in that cloud of flowers – even the leaves are overshadowed.
Ancient herbal Clary Sage
Clary Sage is an ancient herbal plant.
“Clear Eye” was one of its many common names in centuries past. So it is easy to see where the name Clary has come from.
And also gives the game away for traditional medical uses. It was used commonly for treating eye infections and irritations of course.
But Clary had a very versatile career as an ancient medicinal plant.
It was proposed to heal anything from ulcers to scorpion stings; from kidney stones to insomnia.
Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder were both famed healers and botanists in the 1st century AD, and both highly prized Clary Sage.
Theophrastus extolled its virtues in the 4th Century.
And by the dark ages in medieval Europe, ladies were encouraged to drink it in beer or wine to assist with “female problems”.
Modern Clary usage
Clary is still sometimes promoted today in herbal practise to combat mental health issues. However pregnant women are strongly advised against its use. Today it is more commonly grown commercially to harvest the aromatic oils for use in fragrant soaps, cosmetics and hair tonics, and for flavouring food and liquors.
Cut armloads of flowers
Clary Sage provides excellent cut flowers for large vases.
You can cut armloads of beautiful branching stems of blooms to bring indoors.
Abundance of fragrance
The whole plant is strongly and pleasantly aromatic in the garden. Just like wine connoisseurs, some gardeners say they detect notes of lavender, while others savour hints of bananas and pineapple on the nose.
As tough as nails – thrives on neglect
Clary Sage is native to the Mediterranean area, especially in Syria, Italy, Southern France, as well as northern Africa. All are areas that have hot, dry summers, and cold frosty winters. This is blissful news as so many Australian gardeners have similar conditions.
It is very hardy in heat, dry, frost, and poor soils. It is drought tolerant and very water-wise.
Leave it to do its own thing
Clary Sage is a self-seeding biennial. It will reliably seed itself into the garden each year, to provide plenty of new plants each year, as long as you leave a head or two to go to seed each autumn. It is not hard to weed out if it volunteers in the wrong place.
– Height with flowers: 75cm approx.
– Width: 60cm approx.
– Position: Full Sun, or Partial shade as long as it is dry and airy. They don’t need sun absolutely all day, but they detest wet. Hardy in hot and dry conditions. Very suitable for coastal gardens.
Hardy in most soils
– Soil: Well drained is essential, but otherwise will adapt to all sorts of soils. It is particularly happy in sandy, poor, stony or gravel soils. It tolerates soil pH on both the acid and alkaline lime side.
– Fragrance: The whole plant is strongly and pleasantly aromatic. Just like wine connoisseurs, some gardeners say they detect notes of lavender, while others savour hints of bananas and pineapple.
– Frost: Very frost hardy. Tolerates hard frost to well below -10C.
– Growth: Self seeding biennial
Long lasting Bee food
– Attracts: Bees adore them as much as we do, and they are favourites with commercial apiarists for providing abundant, long lasting bee food. Native Honey-eating birds and butterflies join the feasting.
– Care: Cut back spent stems after flowering to encourage new branching heads. Leave some branches to self seed each year. Otherwise very easy, low maintenance. Thrives in neglect.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Yes! They don’t like the high concentration of aromatic oils.
– Origin: Clary Sage is native to the Mediterranean area, especially in Syria, Italy, Southern France, as well as northern Africa. All are areas that have hot, dry summers, and cold frosty winters. This is blissful news for Australian gardeners with hot, dry conditions in summer and cold, frosty winters.