Shining bright despite the weather

Every morning I always take the time to carry out a quick lap of the Queen Mother's Garden here at RHS Garden Hyde Hall...

...This is just to make sure that nothing untoward has taken place since the night before. This gives me the chance to plan the jobs for the morning and make sure that everything is safe for the visitors come opening time.

Salvia confertifloraOn this particular morning, the rain was hammering down and the wind was whipping autumn leaves around like a mini hurricane. Not particularly pleasant, but one thing caught my eye through the downpour - the salvia border.

The salvia border is long skinny bed that runs the length of the Queen Mother's Garden and is planted predominately with both hardy and tender salvias. Now is the time of year where the more tender varieties start to shine.

Salvia curvifloraA few of the varieties that caught my eye on that wet and windy morning were Salvia confertiflora (Red Velvet Sage) towering 1.8 metres (nearly 6ft) on chunky square stems topped with small, deep red buds opening to brilliant orange flowers. A bit further along is the small but still equally bright Salvia elegans 'Scarlet Pineapple', placed right by the path so that visitors can enjoy the pineapple scent from the leaves when brushing against it. Next up is the Salvia curviflora (Pink Tehaucan Sage) - another tall species with shocking pink flowers.

Salvia leucanthaHalfway along the border sits a large oak tree (Quercus robur), and after this the salvia border takes on the transition of hot colours into the more pastel shades as the Queen Mother's Garden opens out to views of the wider estate. Here we have used Salvia ‘Amistad’ which has the blackest flower buds opening out to inky blue flowers. Below this and quite easy to miss sits Salvia ‘Valerie’ with graceful pastel mauve flowers. Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage) is a tall species with narrow woolly foliage, reminiscent of a miniature buddleia. Rounding off the border is the muted Salvia ‘Clotted Cream’ which, as the name suggests, produces the palest yellow flowers.

It’s not all been a roaring success though. The Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ - which elsewhere in the garden has topped 2.1 metres (6.8ft) - is a little lax and sad looking, so that will have to be relocated to a new position within the border.

On balance, despite only being planted for a short time, the salvia border is off to a flying start and with careful tweaking we have created an area that is bound to please whatever the weather.

Take a look at a gallery of images of the beauty of RHS Garden Hyde Hall in October.

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