This is a page devoted to Salvia, Nepeta and a couple more Genera that I think sit well with them. What they all have in common is that they all belong to the Lamiaceae and are the sort of plant to grow in a position in full sun. I’ve grouped them in a way that makes sense to me, but is, to all intents and purposes most probably arbitrary.
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- Salvia pratensis ‘Rose Rhapsody’ – pratensis Ballet Series. Upright spikes carrying relatively dense heads of rose-pink flowers. Tends to produce more quantity of more upright, shorter stems than either Salvia ‘Twilight Serenade’ or Salvia ‘Sweet Esmerelda’. Summer flowering. reblooms if cut back after first flowering. 40cm. Good, reliable perennial sage for the front section of any border. A form of a native sage which grows in damp meadows.
- Salvia pratensis ‘Twilight Serenade’. Part of the Border Ballet series. This is a good, reliable perennial sage for the front section of any border. Upright spikes carry relatively dense heads of blue-violet flowers. The overall habit is quite open. Similar in habit to Salvia pratensis ‘Sweet Esmerelda’. 50cm. Summer flowering. reblooms if cut back after first flowering. A variety of a British native which finds its home in damp meadows.
- Salvia pratensis ‘Sweet Esmerelda’ Part of the Border Ballet series. This is a good, reliable perennial sage for the front section of any border. Upright spikes carry relatively dense heads of magenta-pink flowers. The overall habit is quite open. Similar in habit to Salvia pratensis ‘Twilight Serenade’. 50cm. Summer flowering. reblooms if cut back after first flowering. A variety of a British native which finds its home in damp meadows.
- Salvia sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ (Maynight) is an excellent garden hybrid producing a long display in May and June of richest deep violet flowers on short flowering spikes. The habit tends to be somewhere in between varieties like the denser Salvia ‘East Friesland’ and the more open pratensis types like Salvia ‘Twilight Serenade’. Height 60cm Best grown in full sun. Cut back after flowering to encourage a second flowering.
- Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’ (East Friesland). Excellent garden value on account of its dwarf habit (40cm) and long lasting intensely coloured spikes of violet flowers and redder bracts. It has a particularly neat habit and really benefits from the bracts being maroon, giving another dimension to the flower spikes. Best grown in full sun.
- Salvia x sylvestris ‘Blue Queen’ (‘Blaukonigin’) has excellent garden value on account of its dwarf habit (50cm) and long lasting rich blue flowers enhanced by dark purple bracts. Lacks the overtone of red in the flower spike that salvia ‘east friesland’ has. Best grown in full sun. Trim back after flowering to encourage a second flush and keep the plant tidy.
- Salvia nemorosa ‘Rosenwein’. Clumps of foliage produce lots of spires of pink flowers which emerge from darker buds and are set off by purple bracts. A undemanding plant for a sunny site growing to 60cm (2′). good cut flower and for drying for everlasting flower arrangements. A super garden plant.
- Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’. is a handsome species with long arching spikes of small purple flowers which emerge from conspicuous whorls of mauve bracts that outlast the flowers and produce a pretty purple haze. The bracts make the whole plant really ornamental long after flowering has finished. Careful deadheading will encourage the side branches to produce flowers also. The leaves are quite rounded and possess a slight woolly texture. Prefers a well drained site in full sun. 60-90cm
- Salvia sclarea ‘Turkestanica‘ (True Clary) is a magnificent show-stopping biennial to add impact to the garden. Large attractive rosettes of blue green foliage develop a branching flower head to 6ft tall in the second year. The flower are lavender with a white lip but the real stars of the show are the large showy white & pink bracts. Clary has been long cultivated both for ornament and flavour, having been used as a substitute for hops and to flavour wine. The names ‘Clary’ and ‘sclarea’ both derive form the Latin ‘clarus’ = clear; a reference to the use of the mucilaginous seeds to clear eyesight. The essential oil is often used in perfumery.
In these times of fashionable rages
Let us honor enduring sages.
Known to cure, to mend, to ease;
Companions to cooks; splendid teas.
Hundreds of species our world adorn,
Richly diverse in flower and form.
Hail to Salvia, that scented salvation,
Worthy of study and our admiration.
– by Andy Doty
The Genus Salvia is huge with at least 900 species covering a really wide range of habitats and growth types. They are one of the few plant groups, (including Mecanopsis and Delphinium), that covers all three primary colours, excelling at red and blue and dabbling somewhat in yellow. There are shrubby sages, perennials sages and a number of really spectacular biennials as well. We only scrape the surface of this rich variety, but we hope we offer a number of good reliable garden plants.
The question to ask is what will Salvia bring to the herbaceous garden. Probably their best asset is their long flowering and often repeat flowering habit. In some cases, such as Salvia ‘Purple Rain’ and Salvia sclarea ‘Turkestanica’ the actual flowering is a bonus as the bracts provide a large proportion of the colour and persist long after the flowers cease. When they are in flower they provide valuable nectar for bees and butterflies.
The majority of sages come from warm, Mediterranean style climates, enjoying a warm position in full sun with good drainage – It’s hard to generalise with such a huge family. As such many of the 900 species are better treated a s half hardy, but there are many good garden varieties, especially Salvia pratensis from meadow situations, including the British Isles, and Salvia nemerosa from the woodland edges. As a general rule, avoid excessive wet, especially during the winter and err towards more sun than shade. As for care, simply cut back when the flowering stems cease to look pretty and you will often be rewarded by a second flowering.
Salvia nemorosa has been grown in gardens for as long as gardens have been popular and has hybridised freely in its time. Hence some of the most popular Salvias are of uncertain parentage, being hybrids of Salvia nemorosa with possibly S.pratensis, S.virgata, S x syvestris and S. x superba. The one thing they have in common is being particularly good garden plants.
Salvia is the Latin name for the sages, a group of plants tha