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A good bloomer and tough plant, Salvia’s best asset is its colour

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Plant of the week

Salvia 'Sensation Deep Rose Improved'

Why you should plant it

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Salvia is one tough plant. It is a long-living herb from the same family as sage and this particular variety will put up with a lot of abuse (that is, too much sun or too little water). The growers are raving about it and when they describe something as "floriferous," you know it's going to be a good bloomer. The plant grows to 40 centimetres tall and 55 centimetres wide and stays in a nice, tight clump. The colour, which looks rosy in full sun but in other types of light appears purple, is its best asset.

Where to plant it

Good drainage and lots of sunlight are necessary, though it tolerates light shade. Keep it well-deadheaded (cut off the blooms the minute they look sad) and it will continue delivering fresh colour. The surrounding soil should allow water to percolate through it steadily. To test this, dig a good-sized hole, pour a bucket of water into it and see how quickly the puddle disappears. If it drains too slowly or too quickly, add compost. (Zone 3 is the coldest area where this plant will grow.)

What it offers

Its brilliant pink flowers will burst out in early summer and remain much the same until late summer. This plant is so striking that you should pair it with something soft; stay away from gold-leafed plants and lean toward silvers instead. Plant it in front of Russian Sage, or Perovskia atriplicifolia, for example, for a fantastic combination.

Source and cost

It is available for $15.95 through gardenimport.com, a fine plant-catalogue house that is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

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Visit marjorieharris.com for more plant and gardening information.

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