Sunday, September 2, 2007

Salvia guaranitica

The realization that Salvia guaranitica is hardy in our gardens was a great day for me. Among easily grown garden plants there is nothing like it: the flower color is unique among the easily grown, hardy perennials of late summer. The intense cobalt blue of the flowers is a real treat when seen in combination with many other colors other than most of those called "blue". Right now a big patch of Eupatorium coelestinum is blooming beside some of the salvia: after seeing this, you won't call the Eupatorium blue any more.

Hummingbirds and bumble bees give Salvia guaranitica a real workout.

Impressive as the intense flower color is, it disappears when the plants are viewed from any distance. And it takes a lot of flowers in this color to make much of a splash. But there is a real sense of satisfaction to be had in viewing such a vibrant blue in the garden.

It has taken a while for me to become comfortable with the idea that this is a reliably hardy perennial in our climate. But local gardeners have been growing this plant for at least twenty years that I know of. If we go back to having severe winters, perhaps we'll lose them; but for now, I'm using this plant freely in some of the borders.

The one shown in the image above is the one called 'Black and Blue'. I also grow the form with a green calyx and the same intense cobalt corolla color. The pale blue of 'Argentine Skies' is a lovely color, too, but it does not move me the way the cobalt-colored forms do.

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