This year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show saw Hopleys Plants launch a novelty, Salvia ‘Ruby Star’. Over the years, the nursery has introduced a huge number of fine plants including new varieties of Diascia, Lavatera, Osteospermum and Penstemon. Many still remember the first scarlet-flowered shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla ‘Red Ace’. It was such a breakthrough when launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1976, a uniformed security guard was on hand!
This colourful shrubby salvia flowers prolifically from May until late November and features large, ruby red flowers. But its unique feature is the white eye that sparks the rich colouring of each flower. Ruby red is a lovely colour, but it's the white eye that marks it out as special.
Aubrey Barker of Hopleys Plants told me how the plant arose: “Pamela Martin, who's worked for me for over 25 years and who's met thousands of our customers at numerous shows, found this new salvia last year in a batch of Salvia ‘Hot Lips’, one of our most popular salvias in recent years. She put it aside because it was obviously different." Stocks were bulked up and it was so appealing it sold out on its first outing at the June flower show.
With S. ‘Hot Lips’, the bicoloured effect of red and white disappears in hot summer weather leaving the flowers entirely red. One notable feature of S. ‘Ruby Star’ is that although the white colouring is less dramatic, it never fades away.
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