I don’t normally plant annuals in my flower beds. I’d rather invest in perennials that are going to come back year after year. And I splurge on ephemeral annuals for my pots where I can spotlight them in all their delicate and exotic glory. If a plant can’t survive our Southern Ontario winters then it’s exotic in my books. But one plant has changed my mind–Salvia longispicata x farinacea ‘Playin’ The Blues’™.
A new genus for national plant brand Proven Winners and available for the first time in Canada this season (2015), ‘Playin’ The Blues’™ is an annual with attitude. Really great attitude. With its tall spires covered in blue/purple blooms (a real blue when viewed out of direct sunlight) for the entire summer, this plant can zing up a tired garden bed with colour and drama like streaks of blue lightning. That it does this from June right through to the first hard frost, enduring dry spells and heat waves, is mighty handy, too. When I trialled this plant last year, I took several trips away from home during the summer and while other plants were prostrate by the time I got back, this salvia had simply dropped a couple of lower leaves. (If this happens to you, just cut back the plant by about a third and it’ll rev up again to its full glory in no time.)
I can see how this salvia would make a striking choice for a large container–it can grow up to a metre or higher. But I planted four of them along the sunnier side of a bed with a Japanese maple and a mass of glowing red and orange Echinaceas. The contrast was spectacular. ‘Playin’ The Blues’™ won’t self-seed but I almost wish it would. This long, tall stunner is welcome anywhere in my garden.