Spotlight on Salvias
Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the mint family – Lamiaceae, which includes species of shrubs, herbaceous perennials and annuals. Many will be familiar with the culinary herb Salvia officinalis – the common sage, but maybe less so with the huge number of these useful plants in a wide range of colours and varieties that can flower from Spring to Autumn. Often with aromatic foliage, the less tender varieties are easy to propagate by softwood cuttings now to overwinter undercover, not only to ensure against losses in heavy winters but also to increase your stocks. Suitable for borders and patio containers in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade, they have the added benefit of being adored by bees and butterflies, increasing the biodiversity in your garden.
As with all herbaceous perennials, their flowering period will be prolonged by deadheading as soon as the flowers begin to fade, however, avoid cutting back completely until the spring and apply a mulch to protect the crowns from excessive winter wet.
Just arrived at the plant centre are four varieties to tempt you:
Salvia greggii ‘Blue Note’ is a compact perennial with small, aromatic leaves and masses of intense blue flowers; growing to a height of 60cm with a spread of 40cm, this plant is a good ‘filler’ for the middle of a border.
Salvia jamensis ‘Royal Bumble’ is a taller variety at 75cm, producing bushy clumps of grey-green foliage and vibrant rich-red flower set against purple calyces and stems, this variety can flower from spring to autumn given optimum conditions. Use with a perennial Japanese blood grass such as Imperata cylindrica Rubra ‘Red Baron’ (in stock) to perfectly offset the vivid flowers.
Salvia nemerosa ‘Sensation Rose’ is a reliable performer for the front of the herbaceous border, growing to 35cm it produces numerous spikes of lilac-pink flowers from May to September; this plant will tolerate partial shade.
Finally, Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ is a popular choice used in many of our garden designs due to its hardiness and long flowering period from early to late summer; producing deep violet flower spikes over magenta stems and growing to 60cm, plant in swathes throughout the middle of the border to create a ‘river’ of colour amongst other perennials with similar hues of rich plum and smokey purple