It is almost the end of all things flowering in a concentrated way. There will still be the odd rose, the odd mixed-up plant that mistakes autumn for spring, but, apart from the Salvias, mostly everything is winding down and packing up for the winter. Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’ is a last-minute late star. It is a tall, rangy plant with elongated, slender leaves and is not a busy plant- it languidly droops rather than gets on with anything. But the flowers are so-strokable, the word ‘velvet’ isn’t in the name for nothing, and with a heavy dew, it almost feels like a damp flannel. I had a shot at some cuttings earlier in the autumn, and nothing worked, but as it is only flowering now, I will have another go.
I was given a happy cutting of Salvia elegans in May, and it has rocketed away, forming a bright green, determined plant of Im across and high. Yes, the pineapple smell is adorable, but really it is the licking flames of the flowers that captivate me, and they even conquer the background of last week’s washing on the line behind it. I know it is on the tender side, so, in a couple of weeks assuming no frost, I will let it dry out, give it a trim and put it into the open barn, where it will get sun, but protection from wind and rain. All I need to do is to remember to water it very sparingly occasionally.
This Salvia miniata, now in its third year, is another rangy soul, pairs of bright green glossy leaves arrange themselves neatly on the stems, and it has been flowering non-stop since June. It has a fairly upright habit, and flowers in short bursts, but with something of the same velvet feel to each scarlet trumpet. Another pot Salvia, as it also needs the open barn treatment and freedom from frost and rain.
This Salvia ‘Anthony Parker’ is a giant. Even with the heat and dryness this year, it is a good 1.25m high and wide, and last year it put on another 30 cms at least all round. It’s a very thirsty customer in the summer, with elegant leaves and a good bush shape. Just as well, as you have a long wait for the flowers- they burst out while we were away in the middle of October as Tostat had yet another hot spell. The buds are greyer than the eventual flowers, which are a lovely deep amethyst colour. Cuttings have taken well and so, as usual, I have a host of small pots to keep watching over the winter. This Salvia will get the open barn, and the cuttings will come in to a sunny windowsill.
An early October flowerer, ‘Mulberry Jam’ is a gorgeous pink with strong stemmed flowers- which can, however, be brittle and broken by passing dogs and cats. But I adore the colour, nothing wimpy about it, and a good, strong grower too, with dark green foliage. This one is not hardy either, so they are going to be queuing up in the barn.
The award for ‘surprisingly tough’ goes to Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ which has been flowering all month beautifully, and is new to what was a shadier part of the garden. I say ‘was’ as last week Andy attacked the wisteria, which had become indomitable, so maybe the Eupatorium will not be feeling so chirpy next autumn. Ah well.