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Life After Lawn: Compact sage creates handsome, fragrant border

Life After Lawn: Compact common sage is both useful in the kitchen as a culinary herb and in the garden, attracting bees and beneficial insects.
Life After Lawn: Compact common sage is both useful in the kitchen as a culinary herb and in the garden, attracting bees and beneficial insects.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Life After Lawn” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and ideal for drought-tolerant landscapes.

Compact common sage

Salvia officinalis “Berggarten”

Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide at maturity.

Bloom season: Blue-purple flowers in late spring and early summer.

Exposure: Full sun.

Pruning needs: Prune to shape in late winter or early spring.

Water needs: Low; once established, water deeply once a month.

Snapshot: This popular edible sage could be the water monitor for a drought-tolerant garden. It can’t stand too much irrigation. But under low-water conditions, it flourishes, providing interesting color contrast, fragrance and texture as well as savory seasoning. This variety features fuzzy, pewter-colored, rounded, broad foliage, which forms an attractive, symmetrical gray “dome.” It’s particularly pretty edging the front of a garden border, where it can be seen and smelled. In spring and summer, blue-purple flower spikes tempt bees and beneficial insects.

For more on “Life After Lawn,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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