The popular Salvia is the Scarlet Sage (S. splendens), which can be seen in any street or park in summer – neat rows of plants about 1 ft high with erect spikes of brilliant red flowers. Pinch out the tips of seedlings to induce bushiness and remember to feed and water when necessary. Red is not the only colour – pink and purple are available.

VARIETIES: There are many red varieties of the half hardy annual S.splendens – favourite ones include ‘Blaze of Fire’, ‘Flare-path’ and ‘Caribiniere’. For a change try ‘Royal Purple’ or the red, pink and purple mixture ‘Dress Parade’. Another half hardy annual is the dark blue S. farinacea and the hardy annual S. horminum isgrown for its brightly-coloured bracts. For the back of the border there is the biennial Clary (S. sclarea) – a cottage garden plant with tall spikes of pale flowers.

SITE AND SOIL: Any reasonable garden soil will do – thrives best in full sun.

PLANT DETAILS: Height 9 in.-1.5 ft.

Spacing: 1 ft.

Flowering period: June-October.

PROPAGATION: Follow the Hardy Annual, Half Hardy Annual or Biennial technique depending on the variety chosen.

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