Pacific Northwest

July, 2003
Regional Report

Books

Making More Plants
The title of this book -- Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation, by Ken Druse (Clarkson N. Potter, 2000; $35) -- says it all, and the book delivers it all. Whether you want to learn about propagation by seed, cutting, layering, grafting, or division, the clear, detailed instructions and step-by-step photos will get you working in no time. Ken Druse, gardener and photographer extraordinaire, provides plenty of preparation tips including information on seed collecting and storing and a quick botany lesson before starting in on the detailed propagation instructions. And Druse doesn't leave you guessing about how to propagate the plants you want; an extensive appendix fills you in on the best methods for specific plants by listing them alphabetically. Making More Plants is an incredibly useful book, both as a quick reference and as a gardening textbook for learning more complex techniques.

Favorite or New Plant

Clary Sage
Both big and different, clary sage (Salvia sclarea) is a difficult plant to describe. This summer bloomer, growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, is Victorian in appearance and is clothed in bluish white and pink flowers. It has many stems, and its leaves are oval, toothed, and hairy, up to 9 inches long.

Like Canterbury bells and foxglove, clary sage is classified as a biennial, which means it completes its life cycle in two years. The first year from seed it produces just leaves; the second year it flowers, sets seed, and dies. If you allow it to go to seed, those many seeds may self-sow and you'll have little seedlings the next spring to start the cycle all over again.

I use clary sage as a filler or back-of-the-border plant. It combines well with other cottage garden flowers, such as pink hollyhocks, scabiosa, and asters. Clary sage will draw lots of attention as a cut flower as well. It's so unusual that if you see it, you'll just have to have one!

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