All Salvias are what I would call good value for money and I am a massive fan of pretty much all salvias available to grow in the UK, whether shrubby or perennial. They have a long flowering season, have great vibrant flowers, in abundance, and require little attention. Some are hardier than others and all prefer a drier soil however I have found that some of the less hardy species will come through the winter on heavy clay if planted in the right spot. This spot would be south facing with access to as much sun as possible, a heavy mulch of organic matter also helps to protect the crown of the plant through the winter too.
Salvia Amistad has got be right up in my top 5 of all salvias. Although it’s not the hardiest it is easy to propagate from cuttings so you can always ensure that you have more available for next year if the mother plant doesn’t make it through the winter. ‘Amistad’, known as the Friendship Sage, is a medium size semi-shrubby perennial with fast growth in the summer season to reach 4/5ft. From early summer until the autumn it rewards you with rich royal purple flowers emerging from near black dark bracts that rise well above and out from the foliage. It’s great for mass planting or containers and has the added benefit of attracting the wildlife as well as the gardener too.
The plant was discovered by Rolando Uria, an agronomy professor at the University of Buenos Aires who, who found it at a plant sale in Argentina in 2005 and gave it to Robin Middleton. The patent was processed by Rodney Richards of New World Plants who was successfully able to market it worldwide. Rolando Uria published in his garden blog his wish that this plant be freely shared with everybody and this was why he named it Amistad, which in Spanish means “friendship”.
All shrubby Salvia plants should be left to overwinter, then pruned back to new growth in early April. Plants in the garden need no feeding but if planted in containers, add a little tomato feed if leaves turn yellow. Liable to be overwhelmed by large blowsy plants, salvias look great in bed with grasses, sedums, lavenders and Verbena. Try planting this salvia with Rosa Cornelia in a more traditional summer flowering combination or if you want the winter to arrive with a blast try a planting scheme that also includes: Dahlia Bishop of Landalf, Penisetum Tall Tails, Helenium Moerheim Beauty, Verbena bonariensis, Sedum Autumn Joy, Aster frikartii Monch and Penstemon Garnett.