Garden sage: the herb of Thanksgiving


Although on Thanksgiving the spotlight tends always to be on the cooks in the house, it should also be a time for gardeners to receive some acclaim.

So, gardeners of Buda, Kyle and Austin, if you grew any of the vegetables that are part of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast, then speak up at the dinner table, and be sure to take a bow along with the cook.

No culinary herb comes to mind more than garden sage for its contribution to our enjoyment of the Thanksgiving dinner.

Known in the botanical world as Salvia officinalis, this amazing herb originated in the Mediterranean basin and has a long history of culinary and medicinal uses in Europe and China.

Its genus name is salvia, which is derived from the Latin word salvere, meaning “to be saved.”

On the medical front it has been used as a stimulant and a tonic. One of its most valued uses is as a mouthwash, to help heal sores in the mouth and as a gargle for sore throats.

Garden sage is easy to grow and stays evergreen throughout the winter months. It likes good drainage and a sunny location for at least the first half of the day.

Although it is a perennial, it only lasts for two to three years and needs to be replaced as the old plants begin to get woody and deteriorate.

Sage flowers are blue to purple and bees love them. Pure sage honey is said to be some of the most valuable in the world.

And not only does sage have a role in the kitchen and the medicine cabinet… but it looks beautiful in the garden, as well.

There are about a half a dozen forms of sage that can be planted. All have the same culinary and medicinal uses. Here are a few to look for:

Common garden sage will have the characteristic gray leaves with the purple-blue flowers.

Purple garden sage has a purple-ish cast to the new growth. The leaves then turn gray with age.

Tricolor sage is a variegated cultivar, which has green, cream and pink colors in the leaves. This variety will lose its pink color if planted in too much shade.

Biergarten sage is a gray-leaf cultivar that has broad leaves and stays slightly shorter than its common cousin.

All of these cultivars are readily available and add great color to the garden. A tip for using fresh garden sage leaves in a cornbread dressing recipe:  Use 6 fresh leaves for each dried sage teaspoon.

Happy gardening… and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

If you have a question for Amanda, or Chris Winslow, send it via email to Or mail a postcard to It’s About Thyme,11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748

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