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Bolivian Sage (Salvia)

Bolivian Sage (Salvia)

Victorian gardeners had many varieties of Salvia to choose from. Most could be struck from existing plants and potted on to provide summer colour in the garden.

The specimen figured here, Salvia Boliviana, was a native of Bolivia, introduced to Europe by Van Houtte, of Ghent, and grown largely as a conservatory plant for February flowering. It was a robust-growing shrub, producing glorious panicles of scarlet blooms.

I could be propagated by rooting cuttings on a mild hotbed in March. The Bolivian Sage was usually kept as a pot plant, being shifted on to ever-larger pots as it grew, but care had to be taken not to pot them on into too commodious a pot – a nine-inch pot was believed to be the largest they should be allowed to grow in.

As the flower spikes developed they needed to be fed a weak solution of liquid manure, and the temperature of the glasshouse kept to between 60 – 70 d. Fahrenheit. The greenhouses at Kew had some fine examples.

Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols

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