When the purple sage and mullein start to grow in spring, their new leaves feel especially soft and cozy, like something you would want to snuggle up with during a long winter night.
Sage is an impressive medicinal plant with its whitish-felted leaves, blue-purple flowers and intense aroma when grated. It is a member of the mint family and is a popular nectar donor for bumblebees. Garden sage is originally from from the Mediterranean, but adapts well to our latitudes and forms vigorous perennials in sunny locations.
Its Latin name Salvia derives from “salvare” which means “cure.” For the Romans sage was a sacred plant, the Greeks even believed that it could make one immortal. In the Middle Ages, sage was considered a magic herb. Not only did it protect from witches and evil spirits, but it was also able to open locks, realize desires, and draw material wealth. Thieves who plundered the homes of plague victims allegedly protected themselves against contagion with a sage concoction — they confessed the recipe to avoid their execution, which is known as the “four thieves vinegar”.
When fully grown, the mullein develops a truly majestic appearance with its bright yellow flowers at a height of up to two meters (6 feet 5 inches). In German it is called “Königskerze”, which translates to “the kings candle” . In the first year the biennial plant develops a leaf rosette of thick, woolly hairy leaves, which also gave her the name “wool flower” (as seen above). In the second year, the foliage grows in the air and, like a lighthouse, the flowers are pushed up. Here you can read some to the health benefits and other uses of mullein. We keep it mainly for ornamental value in the garden and to attract bees.
Close-up of the mulleins woolly texture and different shade of green.