Ugly Nose

Blue flowered plants are always at a premium in the garden, and just now one is providing a good dollop of bright blue, an unusual colour for this late in the year.

Salvia uliginosa (or bog sage to give its common name), comes from the east side of South America, where it grows in swamps and marshes. Over here, it needs less moisture at the root (but not dry soil), as our wet winters often lead to its demise if it has too much water in the colder season. For this reason, it is easier to overwinter in lighter soils than heavier ones, and in any case, mulching the roots in colder areas for extra protection would be a good insurance (although it should take -10C). Give it a warm sunny spot, and you should be rewarded with its flowers on five foot tall stems from late September.


I usually cut the top growth down in early spring, but this year left it intact and was rewarded with blooms from mid August. I grow it at the back of a west facing border where it also has protection from a nearby shrub. This also gives some support to the stems. Frustratingly, Garden Centres only seem to stock the plant in autumn, when it is flowering. Planting it this late in the season doesn’t give it enough time to get established before facing its first winter, so it is better to go online and buy one in late spring, when the threat of frost has passed. But in any case, please refer to it by its proper name – ugly nose is what a friend of mine calls it, and you might get some blank looks if you use this monicker.


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