A little sage advice….

Aromatic salvias such as scarlet ‘Royal Bumble’ release their scent when the leaves are gently crushed

Aromatic salvias such as scarlet ‘Royal Bumble’ release their scent when the leaves are gently crushed

Looking for some fabulous colour in the garden this summer? Then here’s a little sage advice – get hold of some salvias to bring the bling into your summer borders.

Salvias are members of the sage family, and indeed the purple culinary sage is such an attractive plant that I often include it in planting plans alongside more ornamental specimens. Its evergreen leaves, tinged with dusky purple, combine particularly well with pinks and silver leaved plants.

There’s a lot more to this family though than the edible members and some of them are definitely candidates for consideration if you’re after interesting shapes, repeat flowering and interesting shades. Salvia ‘Caradonna’, beloved of garden designers and used repeatedly in show gardens, is a small perennial with spikes of indigo flowers appearing on lovely dark purple stems – deadheading keeps it going for months, being small and sturdy it doesn’t need staking, and it works really well with paler purples, mauves and pinks in the middle of a border. It’s prone to slug attach early in the growing season – but a few organic slug pellets in early spring should work. It’s worth a little extra care as its deep colour brings so much presence to the summer garden – blues and purples are the colours most often wanting to really make a planting combination really sing.

This year I’m trying Salvia ‘Amistad’ and ‘Love and Wishes’ – the former another deep indigo purple, but a completely different shape in terms of flower and form, and the latter a gorgeous combination of deep and lighter pinks. I suspect I’ll need to be vigilant next spring for signs of slug attack, but I’m loving the flowers already, so these are definitely ones to watch.

My favourite discovery this year, though, has to be Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’ (pictured ) – an absolute blaze of scarlet flowers on aromatic green leaves – you need to gently crush the leaves to release the scent. This is one to keep close where I can brush against it often so it’s growing quite happily in a terracotta pot with a pebble mulch, and its evergreen leaves will add presence all year.

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