Salvia sclarea ‘Vatican White’
WHITE CLARY SAGE
Large branching clouds of white flowers, billow up from mid spring right through summer, on Salvia sclarea ‘Vatican White’.
Billowing big white clouds of flowers
The branching flower heads are wonderfully long lasting and weather hardy, even in the hottest times, as the blooms are actually made up of bracts,
Iron tough Salvia sclarea ‘Vatican White’ is also spectacularly pretty.
Leaves are huge, hairy, wrinkly, velvety, and utterly gorgeous
Eye-catching grey-green leaves make decorative rosettes of foliage hugging the ground.
Clary Sage is certainly more than just a pretty flower show. Instead the foliage is reason enough for growing it.
But then when it billows up in that cloud of white flowers – even the leaves are overshadowed.
Ancient herbal Clary Sage
In centuries past one of its many common names was “Clear Eye”.
So it is easy to see where the modern name Clary has come from.
And also gives the game away for traditional medical uses. Of course it was used for treating eye infections and irritations.
But Clary had a very versatile career as an ancient medicinal plant, as it was proposed to also heal anything from ulcers to scorpion stings; kidney stones to insomnia, as well as eyes.
Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder, both famed healers and botanists in the 1st century AD, valued Clary highly.
Then Theophrastus extolled its virtues again in the 4th Century AD.
Ladies were encouraged to drink it in beer or wine to assist with “female problems” in the medieval Dark Ages (though not recommended today!)
Modern Clary usage
Clary is still sometimes promoted to combat mental health issues. However pregnant women are strongly advised against its use.
Today it is commonly commercially grown to harvest aromatic oils for use in fragrant soaps, cosmetics and hair tonics. Valuable Clary Sage crops are also grown and dried for flavouring food and liquors.
Cut armloads of flowers
Clary Sage provides excellent cut flowers for large vases.
So 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 areas that have hot, dry summers, and cold frosty winters.
This is blissful news for the many Australian gardeners with similar conditions.
And more happy news – It is very hardy in heat, dry, frost, and poor soils; drought tolerant and very water-wise. Plus it thrives on neglect.
Leave it to do its own thing
Clary Sage is a self-seeding biennial. So 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.
Growing: Salvia sclarea ‘Vatican White’
WHITE CLARY SAGE
– 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.
– Water: Very water-wise plant. Well adapted to heat and dry.
– Soil: Good drainage 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
– Frost: Very frost hardy. Tolerates hard frost to well below -10C.
– Growth: Self seeding biennial.
– 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.
– 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 on neglect.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Yes! They detest 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.