Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’

It’s tough to find something to gush over in November. Even for me. And I’m a pushover of legendary proportions. In other seasons, I can palpitate over a dandelion (how did dandelions earn such a bad rap?). But somehow, November leaves me numb. November is out in the cold. November is limping along with little hope of uplifting for another 4 months or more. And this year was no exception. November was living up to its reputation as blahsville. Then an old friend arrived.

I’m speaking about Jack Frost, of course. He visited with a vengeance this morning. We’re talking a sea of diamonds all glistening in the dawn light. We’re talking sparkle. We’re talking jewels. Any leaf is artwork (see? what did I say about pushover?). But edged in frost, Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ is transformed.

That’s the alchemy of autumn. Okay, ‘Berggarten’ is handsome at any given moment. Although I have a hard time doing cartwheels over the ornamental salvias. (They come and go too quickly for me — does this happen to anyone else? Today they’re in flower, tomorrow they’re seedy.) But edible Salvia officinalis is another story. And of the edible sages, ‘Berggarten’ is a two thumbs up.

Its leaves are much wider and denser than the species. Not only that, but they clothe the stems up and down without self-stripping (ever notice that the species generally runs around bare naked from the head down? It’s embarrassing really). ‘Berggarten’ is more blue/green and tough-as-nails hardy. Plus it tends to be evergreen. Which shakes down to a harvest throughout the year. Fellow vegetarians take note: If you thought that sage is for meat only, you should try the sage leaf pasta that Michael Walek made for me last summer using whole sage leaves frizzled quickly in oil…memorable…there must be recipe somewhere, he says it’s an Italian mainstay.

And really, ‘Berggarten’ provides plenty of leaves for any type of application. ‘Tis the season to count our blessings. So here’s to old faithful friends like Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ which is still going strong. It’s hope. It’s courage. It’s delicious. And its brave heart can (should) come to a garden near you.

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