Molly Ivins

One of the most challenging projects in my yard is the front entrance beds. I’ve spent much money and time finding appropriate plants for this focal point that should invite you into my home. When I say “appropriate”, I mean perennial, native or adapted, drought tolerant in the shade of live oaks, on the exposed north side of the house, and fit in my with purple and yellow color scheme there. I’ve planted many things in this bed over the years, and the beds are currently barren as most things I’ve attempted haven’t worked well. They have either died from lack of sun or exposure, or were moved to a better spot to flourish.

I’ve looked and looked for something, even online, but nothing seemed to fit the need. Behold below!


My wishes have been fulfilled by Scott Ogden, via John Dromgool at Natural Gardener. Scott discovered a new species of  shade-loving, drought tolerant, Texas heat and soil resistant, Tropical Sage (Salvia Coccinea) in purple!  The photo may not do it justice, but it is a lovely shady of dusty purple.

I love that he named it “Molly Ivins”, in honor of our venerable political columnist infamous not only for her friendship with Governor Ann Richards and sharing with her that rowdy Texas female personality that is bigger than life, and for her searing wit. From Wikipedia:Mary Tyler “Molly” Ivins (August 30, 1944 – January 31, 2007) was a populist, American newspaper columnist, political commentator, humorist and bestselling author from Austin, Texas.”


By adding this hardy Salvia to my front beds, I set the stage with humor, tongue in cheek irreverence, intelligence, unabashed opinions, warmth, courage and grace. All traits I wholeheartedly welcome into my home.

Some of Molly’s famous quotations include (again from Wiki):

On the subject of Pat Buchanan’s famously combative “culture war speech” at the 1992 Republican Convention, which attracted controversy over Buchanan’s aggressive rhetoric against Bill Clinton, liberals, supporters of reproductive and gay rights, and for his comparison of American politics to religious warfare, Ivins famously quipped that the speech had “probably sounded better in the original German,” implicitly comparing Buchanan to Adolf Hitler.

“We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war…We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!'” (from her last column)

“Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better than that.”

“So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.”

On Bill Clinton: “If left to my own devices, I’d spend all my time pointing out that he’s weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied. Besides, no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal.” (Introduction to You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You)

On James M. Collins, US Representative, R-Dallas: “If his IQ slips any lower we’ll have to water him twice a day.”This quotation engendered substantial controversy, with calls and letters pouring into her newspaper, The Dallas Times Herald. The newspaper turned the controversy into a publicity campaign, with billboards all over the city asking, “Molly Ivins can’t say that…can she?”—which she employed as the title for her first book.

On President George W. Bush, she likened him to a Post Turtle.


18 thoughts on “Molly Ivins

  1. Rachel, that’s exactly how I felt when I saw it. I grabbed two without even looking at price, and they immediately went into the front yard. Go get one now, they didn’t have very many!

  2. That is one pretty plant. Is it an annual? I have the red and it is really an annual although this winter against the wall it made it through. We’ll all be looking for seeds come the fall!

  3. Jenny, like all s. coccinea, I suppose it is a tender perennial. I don’t think my part of town gets as cold as the north side, because all of my “tender perennials” come back frequently. I guess I’ll find out. If it doesn’t make it, then I’m back to barren ground again!

  4. Every time I think I’ve bought the last plant for the season, something else pops up. This is one of those plants; I’ve GOT to have it; I love sage; I love purple, and I REALLY LOVE Molly! (Got one of her quotes on my sidebar, God Bless her, may she rest in peace and shake up things in Heaven, as she did in Texas!). I’ll be looking for that plant!
    I’m a newcomer to your blog, so I’m not yet familiar with all your plants, but have you tried ajuga in the front entrance bed? I’ve had luck with it in lots of difficult areas, plus it meets you “purple requirements”; just a thought.

  5. Nola, I really appreciate all ideas! I have Chocolate Chip Ajuga already, and I love it! I’m needed something with a bit more height. And I also need one more evergreen for that area as well, which I haven’t yet decided on. Keep those suggestions coming!

  6. I love the Molly Ivans quotes. It seems like a flower named after her would be red or orange rather than pinkish purple, but it is a pretty color. Hope it works out for you. Please give us an update again later.

  7. I know what you mean about the fiery colors being more appropriate, Pam! I hope it works, too. Even if it dies back and reseeds, that’s okay by me. I’ll let you know as time goes on.

  8. Both of them were such phenomenally talented women, Ann and Molly! Loved them both! And miss their larger than life personalities. Real down to earth Texas women with a flair for words and a strength I so admired. This is going on my list! I want to be able to say: “Look at that. It’s a Molly Ivens plant.”

  9. Oh, Brenda, I feel the same way. What a loss to lose both of those strong, independent women. Michele O. is awesome, but in a different way. I love the rowdy, brassy characters that both Ann and Molly were. I ran into Ann many times around town, walking Town Lake Trail, and she always had a smile and a “Howdy, ya’ll!” for me. So yes, I agree, having the energy and spirit of Molly Ivins in the garden is a good thing, as Martha would say.

  10. *joins of the chorus of geeks going “ooooooohhhhh!”*

    That color!

    Being from the Midwest, I never really heard of Molly Ivins until I moved down here, but I love her biting sense of humor.

  11. I hope the plant catches on! Perhaps you might be able to call Natural Gardener in Austin to see if they can help you locate one. Having Molly in the garden is a good thing, isn’t it?

  12. Pam, one came back last year – quite late, following the freeze. It was a tiny thing, and I moved it in the fall to what I hoped was a happier spot. However, as you well know, we had record freezes, so I’m hoping it was established enough to set seed last year. I may have lost it. It’s very sweet, and I think if you don’t play “let’s rearrange the yard” every year with it, it will be lovely.

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