Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Beyond sage and onion stuffing

Over the past 12 months I have become rather enamoured with Salvias. I hadn’t realised what a huge plant family it was and also how many looked really tropical. Salvia falls within the mint family and in all there are about 700 different species, they are spread through the world but main centres are in Central/South America.
My first brush with Salvias (besides in stuffing) was with the bright red bedding salvias in neat lines in suburban front gardens, which was a little too commonplace for me. Recently I was reading about how Christopher Lloyd used a bigger type of them in his exotic garden which I thought rather fun. My parents also grew a lovely version last year which was a dark purple colour which looked great.

S.invocurata (bright pink flower)

I then picked up a bright pink S. invocucrata at Columbia Road which was so easy, and survived the winter with gusto. I now use it quite a lot around the place as it’s easy to propagate. It does however tend to be a bit brittle which is a pain is a cat gets a little frisky on it.
Last year I also grew the ‘hot lips’ one, which after seeing everywhere for a few years I actually found a bit disappointing as it doesn’t really have much presence for me. I was more excited by the Pineapple sage which was brilliant; its bright vivid red flowers offset against the appley green foliage were great and very exotic. I think what I liked was the raw colour of it, as I feel weak/pastel colours don’t fit well into the theme.

Pineapple sage
I was finally completely enamoured when we visited a nursery in Lincolnshire which had a few different types which I then went and bought most of. In particular I liked S. gesneriflora which had quite big furry red flowers, and I also loved S.confertiflora. The latter just reeks of the exotic and untamed to me as the flowers are rather odd. I wasn’t quite such a fan after we had it in the car for 4 hrs coming back from Grimsby as it does have a different type of reek.

This year I plan on having loads of Salvias, and look forward to seeing how hardy some are. This winter has pretty much wiped out most of the cuttings I took in autumn, but a couple of the main plants are still flowering away happily. I wait to see which of the plants which the nursery owner swore were hardier than people thought will survive!

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