Monday, 13 April 2015

Salvias, the last hurrah of Autumn

Its fair to say that summer is hot hard work here in the outer west of Sydney. So when Autumn finally arrives we all breath a sigh of relief and watch nature transform our gardens into a tranquil and gentle haven. I`m pleased to report that all the little birds have come back into the garden, something that has not happened for over ten years! The invasive Indian Mynor bird has scared them off, I thought, for good! How wrong I was. First the little native Finches flittered and tittered all over the place, then I noticed the Willy Wag Tails here and there and then lots of shy Wrens started hopping out of shrubs and bushes. To my greatest surprise and joy, the little Honeyeaters are back! Only once before have I seen one of these charming little fellows hovering at a sweet flower - but this year I have a whole flock of the busy little guys. They are too fast to catch for a photo (I spent hours trying!) but I did get some video footage. They have spent a great deal of time in all the giant Salvias.

This particular one I picked up at a Plant Collectors Fair. Salvia Guaranitica - `Black and Blue is a very large and fast growing variety, reaching 130cm and spreading along the ground where it`s thick canes sprout rootlets when it touches the soil.

This amazing fluffy pink Salvia was also purchased at the P.C.Fair. Salvia Iodantha - can grow to   3m x 3m so I have had to move it from it`s original position as it grew too big for the spot.

Salvias are great space fillers if you have the room. There seems to be one to fit every garden spot imaginable, even shade. Below is a relatively new release called Fionas Wish, and seems very happy in semi shade. The foliage is lusher than it`s hot dry relatives.

This Shade loving Salvia is a most unusual variety, hardly resembling the rest of it`s family. The large triangular foliage spreads by runners, and the flowers are a vibrant true blue. I`m sorry to say I have no record of this ones name. let me know

I`ve had this Salvia `Raspberry Sundae` for many years. It is a rich colour and always reliable. As with most Salvias, they tend to slowly spread until you must halt their progress with a spade.

There is a lot of pruning involved with these plants. Throughout the season you can let them go if you have ample room, although I tend to hack back regularly. Then at the end of winter it`s off with their heads! right back to the ground. A good handful of fertiliser and some fresh mulch then they`re off and away again.

Salvia `Waverly` is a purple and white bi-colour that never stops flowering. I love the crinkly textured foliage of this one.

This lush beauty is Salvia `Anthony Parker` and is one of the other sources of joy to all the little hummingbirds. I can see this one from my family room windows and often sit watching them frolic for sweet nectar.

All these hard working perennials (meaning we cut them back to the ground at the end of winter so they can renew themselves all over again) also play another major roll in my gardens - the endless source of pollen and nectar to my bees. Yes, we have a wonderful beehive in an old tree, way down in the farthest reaches of the garden.
Salvia microphylla `Margaret Arnold` has been growing happily for years in the garden. Quite a substantial plant, very heat hardy with strong upright stems. Like many salvias, it tends to spread by runners - yep, out with the spade when I need to slow its progress.

And these little beauties are this years purchases from the annual Plant Collectors Fair.
Salvia `Medrensis` was given to me by a friend who has a stall there. He promises me this massive growing variety is YELLOW! The other little fellow is Salvia `hians` and looks to be another interesting variety, short and hardy with large lush flowers - we shall see...

Please feel free to leave a comment, I`m always happy to hear from you :)

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