July's plant of the month is the salvia

July's plant of the month is the salvia

July's plant of the month is the salvia, and there can be few plant families which offer more in sheer variety, from brilliantly colourful bedding plants for a quick splash of colour, to exotic-looking beauties and evergreen shrubs with fragrant leaves that make a useful flavouring for the kitchen.

Sample just a few from the fine selection we have in our garden centre here in Ottershaw and you'll see just what this wonderful group of plants is capable of.

If you love your fruit and veg, start with perhaps the easiest salvia of all: Salvia officinalis, or culinary sage. It's a handsome evergreen shrub, with velvety leaves: 'Purpurascens' has smokey purple foliage while 'Icterina' is variegated gold and green.

Equally easy-going are the herbaceous sages: big, robust perennials with spires of deep blue-purple flowers which last most of the summer. Salvia nemorosa is a tried-and-tested favourite, with pink varieties like 'Amethyst' and dark-stemmed 'Caradonna' with deep violet flowers. Bees absolutely love them, so they're perfect for a wildlife garden too.

And for a tropical look, go for hot-coloured Mexican sages. These beauties are only frost hardy in milder areas. Look out for scarlet pineapple sage, the gorgeous red-and-white 'Hot Lips', and cerise pink blackcurrant sage. All are deliciously scented.