Plant a blast of colour!
What we plant now must give us the typical look of summer, and should continue with a striking floral performance until the end of autumn. It should also hold up to heat without needing to be continuously pampered with an open hosepipe.
Go for Salvias
Salvias have a great reputation as a water-wise family that thrive in sunshine and dry soils with very little maintenance required. But some of them are not suited to smaller gardens.
Salvia ‘Heatwave’ was introduced as a direct response to the hot and dry climate that faces local gardeners. It is a compact range in comparison to many other salvias that have a tendency to spread and become leggy. The overall package (about 60cm x 60cm) is neat with bright green foliage setting off masses of flowers.
‘Heatwave Sizzle’ has clear pink flowers, and ‘Heatwave Blast’ has lovely salmon flowers. Both are fantastic for borders and mass planting and thrive in hot and dry weather. They are also cold and frost hardy.
Salvia ‘Wish’ has dark green foliage and maroon stems. ‘Ember’s Wish’ has lovely tubular flowers in bright coral and ‘Wendy’s Wish’ has vivid magenta pink flowers. Back up with cool blue.
What goes well in the background with the pretty and tough salvias, and has the same growth requirements? The vivid-blue phlox-like flowers of the all- time favourite Plumbago ‘Royal Cape’, of course! This is an excellent background or hedge plant with a compact growth form of about 1.5m x 1.5m. From spring to autumn, it is seldom not in flower.
Quick fact: It is also a great pick if you are looking for something nice and easy to care for in large containers on a patio that gets a little shade during the day. ‘Royal Cape’ won’t mind that at all, and for the short while when it is not in flower, you will enjoy a cascade of fresh green foliage.
Hot and fiery finery in front When you load up your trolley with plumbago and salvias, think about finishing off in the foreground with colourful annuals and you will have a whole show-off garden in just one flower bed.
Suggestions here are:
• Marigold ‘Malanseuns Giant Yellow’, with the large butter-yellow pom-pom flowers, will be perfect before the salvias.
• Scarlet sage is a bedding salvia grown as a long-flowering annual with upright spikes of brilliant scarlet flowers.
• More marigolds – next plant up a border of dwarf marigolds. Go for ‘Malanseuns Bi-colour’ with yellow-and-red bi-coloured flowers or ‘Malanseuns Sunshine Drops’ with small yellow flowers.