x-Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'
Salvia nemerosa 'Caradonna' is a jaw dropping plant, with its deep indigo-violet spikes a vivid haze of blue from June until the first frosts in October. It is hardy, unlike many of its relatives, and needs a light, open spot.
Do not try to grow this in shade, it will not reward you, and will struggle if conditions are not right. But give it free draining ground and an airy position in a border and it will thrive. Once established it is drought tolerant and the perfect choice for a gravel garden or areas where water is short. Remove flowering spikes as soon as they start to fade to encourage further flowering and give plants an annual mulch around the base in spring with garden compost. Divide overcrowded clumps in spring and plant elsewhere in the garden.
'Caradonna' has an upright, bushy habit and like its much loved culinary cousin, sage, has musky scented grey-green foliage that form an attractive mound below the vertical flower spikes, but what really makes this plant stand out are its flower stems that are a startling inky- black. It is a compact plant, ideal for adding impact to the front of a border and is the perfect contrast to so many brighter and lighter plants at the height of summer. Stunning planted in drifts with contrasting flower shapes such as the flat heads of achillea or the round pin cushions of knautia, or combine with similar slender blooms, like veronica, penstemmons, even other salvias, for architectural effect. Plant close to a seating area and appreciate the glowing blooms at dusk, when this shade of blue takes on a magical quality. This sensational plant is also a magnet for butterflies and bees, which flit amongst its spires all summer long.