Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Remembering an old friend

Natalie Garton's pink sage
Making a real contribution to the garden at the moment is a bush of culinary sage, Salvia officinalis, with pink flowers instead of the usual soft lavender colour. By chance it's planted just where a shaft of evening sunlight hits it, and this really makes it glow, particularly lighting-up the reddish calyces. The leaves are typical sage-green, and are excellent for culinary use: I like to use them chopped up with breadcrumbs to make a crust on a slow-cooked piece of pork.

This plant was grown from a cutting struck by my mother from a plant in their garden, where it has grown since I was first given it as a cutting in about 1996. It came from the late Natalie Garton, then Secretary of the Oxford & District Alpine Garden Society Group, who is also immortalised as a snowdrop. She died of breast cancer not long afterwards, and I've always called the plant "Natalie Garton's pink sage" valuing it for the memory of a friend as well as its horticultural merits. Beyond her garden at Ramsden in Oxfordshire I never knew anything about its origins, but at the garden party here ten days ago its history was revealed. Heather Aplin, another long-standing Oxford AGS member, had been with Natalie at a garden centre near Oxford one day, and together they spotted a pink-flowered sage among a batch of blues, possibly a seedling or a mixed-in plant of the known cultivar 'Rosea'. Heather advised Natalie to get it, which she did: the circle was completed by Heather taking cuttings from my plant.

Catching the evening light
(the red poppy patrol has not been active this year).


  1. It always adds to a plant when it has an association and we value them all the more for this. I grow Galanthus 'Natalie Garton' here, a lovely snowdrop, and now with a little background.

  2. What a lovely way to be remembered and such a stunning plant and photographs, John. Thanks for sharing!


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