Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

Half a Hundred Herbs Week week 18 – Sage

sageWe’re not quite here yet, but the flower buds are forming and I’m going to have to cut what I want for drying if I’m to follow the advice to cut before the flowers open. That is when the essential oils in the plant are at their strongest.

If you look up sage in any herb book, you will always find two quotes:

“Why should a man die if he has sage in his garden?” which is attributed to Dioscorides, and the more folksy

“If they’d eat mugwort in April

and sage in may

so many young maidens

wouldn’t go to clay.”

Sage, it would seem, is a life saver, prescribed for almost anything from sore throats to kidney disease – hence the Latin name ‘salvia’ which is linked to the words for health and safety.

The rhyme I kind of like though, is

Where the sage tree thrives and grows

the master’s not master, and he knows.

Oh dear. Myself, I think it’s more to do with the rocky poor soil I planted it in, right at the top of a north facing slope, so it gets all the sun and excellent drainage. It comes in many varietieis, with splashes and variations of colour on its leaves, gold and silver and tricoloured. The one I like, though is the purple. Despite its interesting murky colour, it tastes just the same in a sage and onion stuffing!

purple sage







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