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A Gardener’s Best Friend

A Gardener’s Best Friend

What do a dog and a lesser known California sage have in common?  Well, technically nothing.  However, a few weeks back I was witness to and mediator for a bit of a tangle between an unwitting sage and, of course, innocent dog.

I had just returned home from a class I’m taking on San Francisco Bay Area appropriate plants, bringing along with me a fine specimen of Salvia spathacea, also known as Hummingbird Sage.  Native to oak woodlands and coastal scrub of the bay area and coast range, I was thrilled to start tending plants again, especially one that is endemic and would also attract some of my favorite wildlife.  I could already hear hummingbird chatter, resembling the sound of jedi knights in battle.  A happy sound.

Hummingbird Sage is propagated by seed or clump division.  I felt lucky to have a plant, roots and all, and got busy potting it.  My since of kinship to it already swelling.  Once pressed neatly into place, I gave it a bit of water and left to retrieve my camera.

When I returned, moments later, my heart dropped.  The pot, that I so carefully situated in a ray of sunlight on the patio, was empty.  The plant gone.

I immediately ran to a patch of lawn where the dog we are watching for friends chews on toys and other tidbits.  There she was.  Stella, a black lab with the sweetest, most innocent face, looking up at me with curiosity.  “What?” She seemed to be asking, “Do you want to play?”

Lying next to her, chewed in half, was my sage.  The leaves severed from the roots, the stem a mangled mess of torn fibers, bits plant here and there.  I quickly scooped it up, dipped what was left in a bit of rooting hormone (for good luck) and pressed either end back into the soil.  I didn’t care that I was outside the propagating jurisdiction for this particular plant, I was desperate.

The pot still sits in the same place, with the shriveled and brown plant remains, that I eventually placed it weeks ago.  A sunny, warm room.  I watered it with hope at first but finally stopped, thinking it was done in.  All this time it’s received no attention, not even a glance, until I went to re-purpose the container for a new attendee.  But there, to my sheer delight and, I must add, bewilderment, was this vigorous little start, as you see above.

Stella came to stand beside me, wondering again what all the fuss was about.  “What was so interesting?  Is this something I should know about?”  She was asking.

“No, not this time, my friend.”  I responded firmly, leading her away.  Hoping that, in the end, the plant would have the final say.


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