Plant of the Moment: Salvia Phyllis Fancy

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There are some plants which worm their way into my heart quite unexpectedly and I become completely obsessed with them.  Melianthus major is one but it is getting tough competition this year from Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’.

Salvias are a family I have toyed with over recent years but they haven’t really grabbed my attention.  I have a couple of hardy shrubby ones, the dark blue Salvia ‘Amistad’ and Salvia involucrata ‘Boutin’. I really like the latter although its hugh Barbie pink flowers on gangly rangy stems can be hard to accommodate in the border.  However, Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy is a far more elegant affair, a real lady of the border.

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Her elegant stems tower above the foliage with the flower stems gracefully bending downwards.  In the photograph above they are towering over the favoured Melianthus so you can see how much height they can bring to the border.  This plant is a two year old cutting and has really put on substantial growth this year. It is a taller form of Salvia ‘Waverly’, which is a leucantha hybrid.


The glaucous blue foliage adds a nice contrast to other plants in the border and the leaves are sufficiently large enough to have their own presence.

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In my opinion the flowers of Salvia Phyllis Fancy outstrip Salvia Armistad by a long way and I really can’t understand why it is not more popular. The combination of the lilac white flowers with deep lilac calyxes remains me of an elegant piece of 1920s costume jewellery.  The pale flowers show up in the border, twinkling in the sunshine unlike Armistad whose dark blue flowers in my garden create a dull dark spot in the border.

As with the other more exotic looking salvias, Salvia Phyllis Fancy is frost hardy so  here in the UK I will be taking measures to protect it over winter.  I think I will heavily mulch the larger of my two plants and lift the smaller one.  I have also taken cuttings which I hope are rooting well in the greenhouse.

I was lucky enough to acquire my original plant from my local HPS group where it had been introduced by Olive Mason, a real plants woman, but I know it is available from a number of nurseries including Ashwood Nursery near Birmingham.

GBBD – July 08

This is my favourite flower in the garden at the moment. Its a form of Salvia which I grew from some seed last year but as ever I have mislaid the label – any ideas?  My garden is going through a colour pallette transition at the moment.  We are moving away from the soft pastels of early summer and spring such this annual Phlox Leopoldii

This plant is new to me and I cant decide whether I will grow it again or not.  It is providing quite good ground cover for areas where I have gaps – but in my mind eye the Lobelia and Phlox would merge together to cover the ground and create a tapestry of underplanting – oh well best laid plans.

Pale undertones are provided in the garden by lots of hostas such as the one above and this Astilbe.  I hadnt realised how good these pale flowers are for lighting up areas which are patially shady.

Then the colours start to brighten.  A typical example is this Pacific Giant Delphinium – however this ‘Gaint’ is only 2ft tall.  It was grown from late last year and I am thrilled to have got it this far, this is the best I have done with growing Delphiniums from seed. 


There is a growing yellow theme in the garden as well at the moment, provided mainly by Inula hookeri (which I havent got a photo of) and these Centaurea macrocephala (yellow thistles).  I also love the plant on the left which I cant remember the name of.  May be I should rename this blog to ‘The forgetful gardener’!


The Fuschia above was given to me by a friend of my mother and had been growing in her garden for years and therefore she didnt know what variety it was and I havent tried to find out, after all I would only forget!  I love the Lychnis, which again I grew from seed last year.  I have far too many of them and they are completely taking over in some areas but I will thin them out for next year and then I can plant something else with them.

I was initially pleased with the Ammi majus above – this is very easy to grow from seed and is a great cut flower.  However I dont think it is sturdy enough for my garden as it has been blown all over the place by the recent winds.  It has also attracted alot of blackfly.

This is the best year so far for this Clematis viticella Etoile Violette (see I do know some names!)

These two Dahlia buds are on the same plant but seem to be very different which is strange and I seem to remember the Dahlia being more white than yellow – ha ho!  It is very attractive though.

So there you have a cross section of the flowers in my garden this month – there is much more but these are the ones that particularly took my eye today.

Off to let Carol at May Day Dreams know I have done my post.



Colour in the garden – what a challenge!  I have been a fan of Christopher Lloyd for a few years now and my copy of Colour for adventurous gardeners is well thumbed  However, getting it right isn’t that easy and what is right anyway?!  As Chistopher says in his introduction many gardeners worry about colour and about getting it right so it is easier to go for something harmonious and be seen as having good taste.  In my garden, which I only really started to plant up 2 years ago, there is one bit which I am quite pleased with but I suspect it falls into the category of safe

I like this area as it is firstly lush with a mixture of foilage and the colours are subtle, shades of purple, going through into pale yellow with the reddish Knautia lifting everything.  There are sea hollies to appear yet and more yellows.

But I also have some brightly coloured flowers in the garden and sadly I find myself looking at them and not feeling the same way.




The three pictures above show some of my louder plants at the moment.  The orange in the top right and the bottom picture is from Geums.  These are nice enough but sprawl around alot and flop over over things so are begging to be pull out!  In the top right the tall plant behind the Geum is an Inula hookeri which is meant to have yellow daisy flowers.  I havent grown this before so I’m not too sure what the flowers will be like.  Just out of the photo to the right is a Ligularia with beautiful bronze foilage, which will have orangey yellow flowers in a month or two.  I like the strong foilage but there is something wrong in this border and I wonder if its the Salvia which is too pastel and detracts from the others, its abit like a full stop.  I am toying with pulling it up (I have others in the garden) and maybe moving the Galliardia (top left) into its place but then this may cause the other oranges, red and yellow to become too bland, maybe I need a strong purple instead of the pale Salvia.  I really dont know. I also wonder if it is the time of the year.  In spring it is refreshing and uplifting to see the bright tulips and daffodils.  We often see red, yellows, oranges etc all together and because these are the first real flowers of the year we are pleased to see them and their merriness lifts our spirits and we look forward to the summer.  However now in June, maybe the eye needs something more soothing, restful and I suppose if we ever had any heat the cooler colours would make the garden feel more cooling.

There is part of me that wants to rip out all the bright colours and play safe but there is part of me that enjoys the challenge. I think I am beginning to develop a taste and style that suits me, up until now I have been so enthusiastic about growing things, particularly from seed, that I have grown everything and anything …………….

and then wondered where to put them.  Now having acquired a greenhouse and with improved success rates I am beginning to find myself becoming more choosey about what I grow.  I am really interested in contrasting foilage and trying to have interest from this more than the flowers.  I do like the flowers, dont get me wrong, but I think deep down in side no matter how brave I like to think I am I actually prefer the purples, blues, pale yellows etc. 

I love the pictures in Christopher Lloyds book and also Sarah Raven’s garden but I do wonder if the scale of their plantings helps to carry off the colour as well.  It is more successful to do strong contrasts where you can plant in bold groups than one of this and one of that.  Well I will mull this over during the summer and decide what to do – maybe this is just an excuse to acquire more plants!!!





Focal point!!


Had a good day out in the garden planting out some of my seedlings.  I have put this urn in the border that surrounds the pond to try and create a focal point – not very good at this design stuff.  The reddy/burgandy leaves are Lobelia Cardinalis, I am hoping that they will provide a good contrast with the urn and they pick up on the burgandy tinges in the Salvia.

 The scrubby mess in the background is a large shrub I need to dig up but I’m going to have to use a mattock to get through the roots.