The Chelsea Plant of the Year competition always reveals some interesting newcomers and this year the top three represent an intriguing mix of different plant types. The winner was a new mulberry, which I discussed in a recent blog, and the runners-up were a hardy perennial in the traditional style and a new kind of patio plant.
In second place came Salvia ‘Crystal Blue’, a new colour break in these dependable hardy perennials. It has all the familiar attributes of its more familiar relations - ‘Blauhugel’ and ‘Mainacht’ for example - but in this lovely new pale blue colour. So ‘Crystal Blue’ is hardy, reliable, tolerates a variety of soils that are not parched or waterlogged and is a good perennial in a variety of sunny situations.
But the flowers of ‘Crystal Blue’ are a unique pale sky blue, the flowers opening in upright, branched candelabra-like sprays set against dark, slightly grey-green foliage.
‘Crystal Blue’ was found on a nursery in Illinois in 2010. A single plant was spotted in a field of thousands of plants of the AGM variety ‘Mainacht’ and was removed to be grown on separately for assessment. Over the next two years it proved reliably distinct, for as well as differing from ‘Mainacht’ in its new pastel colour, the plant develops a noticeably more branching habit.
This looks to be a fine new hardy perennial for sunny borders, and a refreshing addition to the darker blue and purplish forms that we already grow.
You can order Salvia ‘Crystal Blue’ from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants.
Please note: the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS.