This time of year, I always enjoy visits to the New York Botanical Garden, because the gardeners there really know how to push the seasons. Take a stroll through the Ladies Border or the Perennial Garden and you’ll see blooms in all directions. It must still be mid-summer, you think.
On a recent visit, all of the fall-blooming salvias caught my eye, especially one called ‘Phyllis’ Fancy.’ It stood nearly 6 feet tall and was completely covered with purple spikes of fuzzy lavender blooms.
Named for Phyllis Norris, this particularly elegant and long-blooming salvia was recently introduced by the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum. It will start blooming in mid-summer and keep going strong until a hard frost knocks it down.
Like other members of the sage and mint families, salvias are great plants for Hudson Valley gardeners — deer resistant, low maintenance, drought tolerant and very vigorous all summer and fall. Favorites of hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, they prefer full sun but tolerate some shade.
In mild winters, experienced gardeners in the Lower Hudson Valley might get ‘Phyllis’ Fancy’ to survive until next spring, but generally speaking, you should treat it as an annual in our climate. It’s definitely one I’ll be looking for in nurseries next year.
To learn more:
“Splendid Salvias—14 Tender Perennials for Summer and Fall Bloom,”
by Bob Hyland, from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Web site