Sage blossom–it sounds like a paint color that my daughter Kristin would pick, except that she picks variations on sage green. Sage blossoms are purple. I didn’t even know that sage got flowers until two years ago. (Just shows how “expert” a gardener I am.) At that point my plants had decided they were mature enough to handle flowering and they were not in imminent danger of garden death. I was surprised at how intricate the tiny blossoms were–like little bitty Siberian Iris.
The sage is blooming in the herb garden now. It seems like just the other day the garden was waking up from winter, and now the sage is in bloom, chives are thinking about blooming, and the lemon balm is threatening to overshadow the chives. Gill-over-the-ground is creeping all over the ground and slithering its way to world domination. After all the rain we’ve had, the garden has blasted into being.
This weekend I finally planted my annuals. It was good to finally have a day to myself to play in the dirt and re-create. And ponder things…like whether the adjective sage is named for the plant, or the plant named from the adjective. When you’re a language teacher, you ponder things like that while you garden. So I looked it up. As I suspected, the word sage comes from Old French with roots in Latin. (If you’re Greek, you think all words originate in the Greek. If you’re a French teacher, you know that over half the English vocabulary came to us from French with Latin roots.) Anyway, the plant and the adjective come from two completely different Old French words with their correspondingly different Latin roots. The herb has its linguistic root (salvus) in the meaning of “healing” or “uninjured.” The adjective has a different root (sapere) referring to having good taste or being wise. Interestingly, it was once thought that the plant could help improve memory and thus help make one wise.
Well, that’s all well and good, but the best thing I found out about sage was that in merry Olde England it was believed that sage grew best where the wife was dominant. No wonder I have such a beautiful display of sage blossoms!