Pruning the salvia

The blue salvia has grown over the front path again. No one can get to the door, and even if they could, they’d be met by the wisteria clawing at their throat. I don’t understand how to prune the wisteria, despite having been sent diagrams by the family. I do understand that pruning wisteria is critical to flowering. I just can’t do it. This year when it finally launched five graceful flowers, like arching white fireworks, we were all so surprised we went and stood around it.

But the salvia is easy, basic pruning, down on your knees: chop, chop, chop. This plant gave me the confidence to prune carelessly, piling up armfuls of dusty white stems and bruised pale leaves with a musty, gentle scent I know from somewhere but still can’t place. So each pruning of the blue salvia involves a moment to pause on this process of remembering the practice of remembering, without something to remember.

Afterwards I carried the cuttings to the compost bin and crushed them up with some old prostanthera prunings. Even though I thought it was just a bunch of skinny dried twigs, it still released that minty fragrance, as it fell in with the salvia’s mysterious scent.

This is salvia farinacea, of course, so the mystery is quite limited to whatever it is I have forgotten. No hint of astral projection, lucid out of body experiences, or the discovery of hidden answers and secret knowledge. That’s another salvia.

And while I was there I noticed that the compost is coming back, after weeks of neglect. The worms have worked over the wet underlayer and the heat from the last load of grass has been enough to steam and soften the upper layer of dried out sweet peas which had been stuffed in with such a sense of achievement at getting them out of the ground and out of sight.

Neglect and renewal, it’s a constant cycle.


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