The dream catcher
Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year Award - finalists announced

New variegated culinary sage

Salvia,sage,variegated,La Crema. Image: © All 
rights reserved.How about this for a new sage? Yes, a brand new variegated culinary sage. Doesn’t it look great? It's called 'La Crema'.

Now, I have to say, before you get too excited – it’s only just becoming available in the US in independent garden centers through the Hort Couture brand. And it's not yet available in Britain -  I'll let you know when it is.

But yesterday we received three small plants to try, to assess how good it really is. So the picture is of a little plant just 3in/7.5cm high. But it looks very promising, doesn’t it? It’s a variegated sport of the broad-leaved ‘Berggarten’ and with relatively few forms of the culinary sage available, this looks as if it has a bright future - IF it performs well in the garden. Of course, that all depends on how it looks this summer, how well it comes back after our winter snows here in Pennsylvania, and then how well it performs next year. And will it revert to its non-variegated parent?

I'm hoping it does well, as an enthusiast for colorful forms of culinary plants - after all, I wrote a book on the subject - this is precisely the sort of plant I like to see. If you're growing it, email me later in the year and tell me how it performs for you.


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Yes, is this the one they are calling 'La Crema'? Is that the true variety name, or some trade name? I've seen pictures of it, and it looks very nice. Of course the "parent" plant is an outstanding form.

In any case, please keep us posted regarding its stability. My guess is, as with most variegated plants, that it will maintain some degree of instability. In any case, I'm hoping to grow this one for next spring.

Graham Rice

Yes, 'La Crema' - I inadvertently missed the name out of my post! Now corrected. The Hort Couture brochure cites it as a cultivar name - but then that's the way they cite everything including plants listed under what are actually selling names (Trade Designations).

Also, I see that no Plant Patent number is quoted for 'La Crema', and neither is it noted as PPAF (Plant Patent Applied For) - so perhaps it won't be patented and anyone can propagate it. Better get some plants and get some cuttings in, Mark!

Perhaps the good people at Hort Couture will comment here and clarify this.

Graham Rice

My spies reported no sign of 'La Crema' at Chelsea... I'll look for it at Hampton Court.

Helen Buckton

Hi Graham, I stumbled upon your blog through Stephanie over at The Enduring Gardener blog and am glad I did. I love herbs. I'd be interested to know how it tastes ? Would you be able to tell the difference between La Crema and Salvia Officinalis in a blind taste test ? It's probably just been cultivated for aesthetics ?

Graham Rice

Well, Helen, our plants of 'La Crema' are still quite small and I don't really want to pull off leaves to taste them just yet. The last I heard, the accepted wisdom amongst herb experts was that they were all as good each other - in the culinary sense.

Jim Monroe

La Creama is indeed a sport of Berggarten that has been very stable for us. We have sold many unrooted cuttings so far with no reports of reversion issues. It is not patented but we have rights to the trademark for the name. It is a great plant that does have the fragrance and taste of its parent. Enjoy.

Jim Monroe
Hort Couture

Graham Rice

Thanks Jim: In your comment you spell it La Creama - with an additional a - Is that a typo?

BTW, if La Cre(a)ma is a Trademark the plant also needs a formal cultivar name. (Happy to explain the rules off blog, if you like).

Jim Monroe

A typo indeed- La Crema is correct. It appeared as a sport on the parent plant in a garden in Virginia in 2007. The trademark name is 'La Crema' and the cultivar name is 'Berggbright'. We have no knowledge of the plant being in Europe of elsewhere but we are producing URC's for export from Mexico. No mail order company has picked it up to date and we have not seen flowers on the plant here.

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