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  • Kennedia
  • Salvia


    A genus whose popularity has risen exponentially in recent times. Offering a diverse range of form and colour there is a Salvia for nearly every garden situation with more and more being discovered and described all the time. The count now stands somewhere in excess of 1000, including subspecies, according to The Plant List. They are found on every continent except Antarctica.

    From a gardeners perspective they can not all be treated the same, they come from many different climates after all, but as a rule of thumb can be grouped into winter rainfall and summer rainfall species and with few exceptions they all prefer well drained soil.

    Soft leaved species from Central and South America are usually autumn and winter flowering. Coming from summer rainfall areas they typically need protection from dry heat and the accompanying high light intensity and they vary in their tolerance of winter damp. As with most plants the larger the leaves the more water they require, this also dictates how fast they grow with many growing several metres in a single season.

    Species from south western North America, South Africa, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are all winter growers and are tolerant or demanding of dry heat and summer drought. Slower growing but usually longer lived these all tend to have small, densely haired, silver or grey leaves or a combination of these traits which help them conserve moisture. Most of these require no additional water in Perth and are well adapted to our climate. They tend tend to flower from spring into summer.

    Prune back to where vigorous new basal growth is seen, never to dead wood, they appear to store little food in their stems and without leaves stand a chance of starving to death or at least struggle to regenerate. The exception is those few that are tuberous or clump forming, these can be cut to ground level once the stems start dying back in late autumn.
    • discolor   CAG01270
      Salvia discolor

      From the Peruvian Andes comes this surprising plant, both in hardiness and flower. The arching stems are covered in a fine white suede as is the underside of the leathery, broadly lance shaped mid green leaves that are well spaced along them and which smell remarkably like blackcurrants when brushed. Sinuous, slender stems, sticky to the touch, carry tiered, pendant clusters of silvery bracts from which emerge black (technically very, very dark purple), two lipped, tubular flowers pretty much year round.

      Its clean lines and graceful habit sits well, at least to my eye, with minimalist architecture and pottery to which its flexibility, tolerance of wind, shade and confined root space makes it even more suited. Otherwise it would look great on your cliff, mountainside, retaining wall or in a large hanging basket.

      While it does appreciate regular water it's not about to keel over at the first sign of dryness and proves difficult to kill. Remarkably long lived so long as drainage is excellent.

      Thin the oldest stems to allow more space for vigorous new basal shoots when they are seen.

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