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Wood sage is a member of the dead-nettle family and the only common member of its genus. Its greenish yellow flower consists of a five lobed lower lip, no upper lip and prominent stamens and purple anthers. The whole plant is downy, about 50cm high with wrinkled oval leaves that smell faintly of sage when crushed. Flowers from July to September.
Wood sage is a long lived native perennial of well drained, acidic to slightly basic soils. It is found in a wide range of habitats including heaths, woodland, hedgerows, scrub, and dunes. Despite its name wood sage is only moderately shade tolerant and is rarely found in deep woodland with closed canopies. It is also sensitive to grazing (eaten by sheep but not cows) and trampling and is therefore absent from most pasture land. However where it is found it can often form extensive patches by means of rhizomatous growth. Although I can find no reference to it in the literature from crop observations it would appear that wood sage is very attractive to bees particularly honey bees and bumblebees.
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Grows best in the shade of woodlands and hedgerows but can also be grown in sun on light sandy soils where plants will attract bees. It is a useful plant for providing continuous colour in woodland gardens after spring flowers are over. Wood Sage is a low growing species with attractive foliage and pale yellow flowers that appear from July to September. Wood Sage looks best growing with woodland wild flowers such as Nettle-leaved bellflower, Herb Robert, and Wood avens. Alternative names for Wood Sage are Hart’s ease and Garlic Sage.
Wood Sage seeds should be sown in spring or autumn, outside, where they are to flower, or in seed trays and covered lightly with compost. The seedlings can be pricked out and grown on, for planting out later in the year.