Step up your garden’s aesthetic by adding salvias to your planting ensemble
Commonly known as sage, salvias are well-known for their medicinal and culinary attributes. But when a cultivar scoops up second place in the rhs Plant of the Year competition, you know you’re in esteemed company. Last year, salvia ‘crystal Blue’ made it known that these hardy perennials are as functional as they are good looking. We asked great comp nursery in Kent, as well as local landscape designers and specialist growers, to share a few trade secrets on how to maximise their ornamental potential.
colour on cue
‘The genus boasts the truest blues and richest reds of any species of flowers,’ says plant grower Leoné Williams of Petal Faire nursery. used in borders or as statement container plants, their aromatic foliage and vibrant flowers will ensure pockets of colour throughout the year.
‘When it comes to cool hues,’ says landscaper deidre causton of Inspirations in Johannesburg, ‘nothing beats the Salvia x jamensis ‘Bleu armor’ with its sky-blue blooms and white centres.’ another popular option in this colourway is the compact, showy
S. farinacea (Mealy-cup sage), adds landscape designer grant gove of glc design studio.
‘Planted in large swathes, Salvia
leucantha (Wild Mexican sage) forms a beautiful backdrop to most plant beds,’ says landscape designer cara smith of cape contours Landscape solutions. on trend varieties include ‘Midnight’ (a beautiful dark purple), ‘White
Mischief ’ and ‘daniella’s dream’ (white with soft pink bracts).
‘I absolutely love the large grey arrowshaped leaves and striking dusty pink flowers of the S. canariensis (canary Island sage),’ says cara. This, mixed with S.
clevelandii (california Blue sage), puts on a spectacular show in spring.
For warmer shades of glowing red, rich magenta and bright pink, deidre suggests S. greggii ‘carmine’, s. ‘heatwave sparkle’, s. ‘heatwave Blast’ and S. greggii ‘sweet Lips’.
a big drawcard is that most salvias are hardy and drought tolerant. In terms of water-wise planting companions, options abound. ‘russian sage (Perovskia), rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue’ and agapanthus varieties like ‘Twister’ and ‘Queen Mum’ pair well with salvia in the same colour spectrum,’ says deidre.
a favourite among coastal gardeners is Salvia africana-lutea (Beach salvia).
‘The showy orangey-brown bracts mix beautifully with Metalasia muricata and
Plecostachys serpyllifolia,’ notes cara. salvias mix well with ornamental grasses. cara suggests using swathes of Eragrostis
curvula and S. leucantha ‘Midnight’ as a backdrop to line long driveway edges.
‘In naturalistic gardens, sage can be interwoven with Justicia brandegeana, Pennisetum setaceum ‘rubrum’, Achillea millefolium, crocosmia ‘Lava glow’ and Penstemon spp.,’ says grant. no herb garden is complete without aromatic sage. Pair S. elegans (Pineapple sage) with a classic combination of aromatic basil, rosemary and lavender.
from far left ornamental grasses make ideal companions to salvias; s. ‘dyson’s joy’ (try salvia ‘denise’ for a local equivalent) right the nursery at great comp garden in kent, england