The people's voice of reason

PLANT OF THE MONTH; Caradonna Salvia

When the earth renews itself with a patina of pale greens, wherever one looks there is evidence of exuberant energy, and what we are viewing is nature establishing her glory. Gardens can be the sum total of our expressions of beauty, love and joy. What are we waiting for, so lets get started with April plantings so that April showers can bring May flowers.

Much is heard today about organic foods, and many have asked me about organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are natural substances which are excellent for the plants. Some of these substances you are already familiar with, so I will name a few and give a description of the proper use. Use bloodmeal, cottonseed meal, fish meal, or chicken manure for nitrogen. Use Bonemeal, fish meal, guano, colloidal phosphate, and wood ashes as good sources for phosphorus. Choose ganite dust, wood ashes for potassium. Bonemeal, dolomite, gypsum, and wood ashes for calcium.

The application amounts are on the packages, so use only these amounts. Remember, more is not better as one can burn the plants. Also, raw sawdust should never be added to amend the soil as it must cure for at least 6 months before ready for use in the garden. For example, on a label for Bonemeal it describes the nutrients supplied such as percentages for nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium. It also instructs to use up to 5 pounds per 100 sq. ft and a good source to acidify the soil. The application should work for at least 6 to 12 months. Gypsum,which is calcium sulfate, has an application rate of 4 pounds per 100 sq. ft. and its use is a good way to lower the ph of the soil (from alkaline to acid), and aids in loosening clay soils. Anyway, these are great means to add nutrients which are not chemicals.

Every gardner starts out from square one since many of us are not born with the talent of a Mozart. But that does not mean we can not grow. Even if we start with the simpliest of pot gardens and expand into flower beds in the yard, we are growing. Even if we change out and experiment with the flowers, bulbs, or foliage plants in our pots, we are growing. Even if we branch out and plant fruit trees, or other flowering trees in our yards, we are growing. Every year that we change the flora in our space, we are growing. Even if we decide to take a perennial course, or a Master Garderning course, we are growing.

Nature is always changing, never the same year to year, and we can follow the teachings of nature with expansion of knowledge and experimenting with new plant varieties. It does not have to be new varieties on the market, but new varieties for our gardens. Therefore, growing as a gardener is a good thing.


Caradonna Salvia, Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' can become a showy workhorse for the areas of the garden which get plenty of sun, but after it gets established, requires less water that average flowers. It is a mounding perennial with violet blue spikes and attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It blooms throughout the summer and fall.

Another attractive attribute is that it is deer resistant. The plant gets about 18" in height and will spread to 18" in width. Once the blooms have died, it is best to prune back so new blooms can shoot up. It is readily available at nurseries, and garden centers. Caradonna is not a rampant grower so it is easy to control. Fertilize in the spring, and it should perform like a pro.



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