Salvia's stunning bloom



Salvias come in many different shades but the exceptional, brilliant flower colour of ‘Aztec Blue’ has to be seen to be believed, says Judith Sleijpen.

Originally from the province of Sinaloa in Mexico, ‘Aztec Blue’ (Salvia Sinaloensis) is a hardy perennial reaching a height of about 30 centimetres and spreading up to 40 centimetres wide.

From spring to autumn, this delightful, low-growing plant displays abundant flowers of the most intense, vibrant blue.

Grow ‘Aztec Blue’ in a sunny spot in organic-enriched, well-draining soil. It slowly spreads via underground runners to form a very attractive groundcover that’s non-invasive.

In full sun, the young, ornamental leaves are a plum colour as they emerge, gradually changing to olive green as they age but always retaining a bronze tinge. When planted in light shade, the foliage is mid-green.

To appreciate its delightful form in the garden, plant ‘Aztec Blue’ in the front of a perennial border. Its fabulous flowers combine well with other blooms in shades of soft pink or yellow.

In a decorative container on a balcony or courtyard, the outstanding flower colour adds a magnetic charm.

Salvias are easy to maintain, simply remove old flower stems to encourage further floral displays, cut the plant back by half during the winter months and apply some slow-release fertiliser in spring.

Top gardening tips for September

  • Divide or repot crowded cymbidium orchids when they have finished flowering and fertilise them to encourage vigorous growth.
  • Feed spring-flowering bulbs as soon as the flowers have faded. To help the bulbs produce blooms next year, regularly apply a water-soluble fertiliser over the foliage.
  • Don’t be tempted to remove the leaves for several weeks. Let them die down naturally before removing them.
  • Group sun-loving herbs together. Thyme, oregano, marjoram and rosemary prefer to be kept on the dry side; basil, parsley, chives and dill require more water and fertiliser; and mint is best kept by itself in a damp, semi-shaded spot.
  • Smother weeds by spreading newspaper over the garden. 

What’s on?

Backyard Beekeeping Course: Learn everything you need to know about bees, the equipment needed and how much honey you can expect. Honey tasting and comprehensive notes are provided and numbers are limited. 10am to 4pm, Sunday, 19 September, Northern Beaches Community College, (9970 1000).

Garden Design for Large and Small Spaces Course: Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping an existing area, you’ll enjoy learning how to transform an open space into a haven for relaxed living. Comprehensive notes are provided and bookings are essential. 10am to 4pm, Sunday, 26 September, Northern Beaches Community College, (9970 1000).

Judith Sleijpen is an experienced horticulturist, columnist and garden designer, advising clients on all aspects of their gardens. For more information, phone 9907 6460.

Judith Sleijpen, Contributor, Peninsula Living Magazine

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