Salvia officinalis Icterina

Sage: Salvia Officinalis

The common name sage refers to many different annual and perennial plants that are wonderful for our hot, dry, sunny Boulder climate.  We love them all but in the herb garden we always make sure to plant the common garden sage, Salvia officinalis, that is a hardy perennial in Boulder with soft, grayish green leaves.  Its flower colors vary.  They can be pink, purple, blue or white.  It's a mainstay in our Thanksgiving stuffing and always a hit mixed with browned butter and served over pasta.

Sage is fast-growing, has beautiful blossoms and a flavor that deer find distateful.  Once a sage plant is established it will be very drought tolerant and can even thrive and bloom in a sustainable or xeriscape garden in Boulder.

Some of our favorite culinary sage varieties include Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten" which produces large, round gray-green leaves that are very flavorful.  Berggarten reaches heights of 2 feet.  Golden sage, Salvia officinalis 'Icterina' also can grow to heights of 2 feet and, with it's golden edges, can be grown in a flower bed or container as well as the kitchen garden.  Purple sage, Salvia officinalis 'Purpurea' has beautiful purple tinged leaves and tricolor sage, Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor' has foliage that is splashed with cream, purple and pink on green.

Sage can be used either fresh or dried.  It is usually milder when dried.  Fresh sage has an intense flavor so use it sparingly at first until you find the right flavor for your tastes.  In the kitchen you can use sage to rub meats before grilling.  It's great with egg and cheese dishes or with pork and beans in soups and casseroles.  

Sage blossoms are edible and look beautiful when you toss them onto a summer salad.  The blossoms also blend nicely with softened butter or cream cheese for a spicy spread.