Plants - Perennials

Plant profile: Hardy salvias

Bursting with blooms, these border favourites keep the garden party going all summer long.

The genus salvia (or sage) is a huge one containing almost 1,000 species, with everything from sub-shrubs, such as our blue-flowered culinary sage (S. officinalis, Zone 5), to widely planted annuals like scarlet sage (S. splendens), whose screaming red blooms were especially popular in the 1970s.

Bur of the garden-worthy perennial salvias, none are lovelier or more useful in the herbaceous border than the cultivars bred from S. nemorosa, the closely related S. ×sylvestris (crosses between S. n. and S. pratensis) and S. ×superba (crosses between S. n. and S. ×sylvestris). These clump-forming perennials are so closely related that most experts treat them as a single species, particularly as their requirements for good growth are virtually identical.

salvias-sensation.jpg
'Sensation Rose' salvia photography by Millette PhotoMedia

Plant profile: Hardy salvias
These hardy salvias all begin to flower in early summer in shades of pink, lavender, blue and violet, and most cultivars remain in bloom for an astonishing eight weeks; prompt deadheading usually induces a second flush of flowers, giving them one of the longest bloom periods of any perennial in our gardens. They are especially useful when sited next to plants, such as Michaelmas daisies, that don’t bloom until early autumn, or to take over from other perennials–bearded iris, for example–that have finished flowering for the year.

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