Rosmarinus (Salvia) officinalis ‘Portland Violet’

After almost 30 years of selling plants I can say that usually the first plant to go into a garden is Rosemary. And why not? It loves our climate. Its drought tolerant beyond measure and heck its even edible. And that fragrance. One thing you might not think of is winter flowers. This form from an ancient plant that has unique flowers. From September to June it is alight in clouds of soft violet blue flowers. Flowers all winter! Excellent as a specimen or hedge. This cold hardy variety can inhabit the coldest gardens. And my god there is always pork. To 3′ tall x 5′ wide in 10 years. Full sun and average soil that drains. Light to little summer water required. Moderate deer resistance. Salvia rosmarinus

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Rosmarinus (Salvia) officinalis ‘Gorizia’

A really good and kind of rare form of Rosemary that was selected for much broader and larger leaves. Which makes it ideal for culinary use. The intense pine scent that pervades the whole evergreen shrub is delightful. Makes me think of pork. Heh. Upright growing cultivar that easily achieves 4′ x 4′ in 5 years. Pale blue flowers are prolific from September to May- peaking in midwinter. Full sun and average, well drained soil. Light summer water then none when established. Takes very well to pruning. This form is especially cold hardy and survives temperatures down to 0ºF easily. Excellent specimen, winter blooming component to a dry border, or an herb garden. Incredibly tough long lived cultivar. Moderate deer resistance. Syn. Salvia rosmarinus

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Salvia microphylla ‘Royal Bumble’

This is red, no pink, very little orange, true blasting red. Our employee Chris thought we needed it and after observation I heartily agree. Bushy semi-woody perennial to 30″ x 30″ for full sun and rich well drained soil. A slope is best. Blooms unabated from May to frost. It takes a break in temperatures above 97º but resumes blooming with a cool down. This is redder ( with no white) than Hot lips with very large flowers in deeply colored calyxes. We have been impressed with the cold and wet tolerance of Salvia microphylla. Of utmost importance is to refrain from cutting them back until all danger of frost has passed, then you can go for it and regrowth to bloom is rapid. Obviously a hummingbird attractant. They stake them out, they fight and its all good fun. Long blooming Light deer resistance. Drought adapted when established.

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Salvia nutans

Nodding Sage. There is no Salvia quite like this remarkable species from the mid-asian steppes. A basal rosette of large leaves supports towering 4′ stems that erupt from the center of leaves. In May-August each stem hosts multiple nodding clumps of extremely showy blue flowers. Elegant, beautiful and hardy. Forms increasing clumps in rich to average well drained soil in full sun to very light shade. Appreciates good drainage and light consistent summer water. The blue flowers are a magnet for pollinators and they swarm en masse. Excellent and groovy cut flower for large arrangements. Otherwise a stellar perennial for borders, even rock gardens. Completely winter deciduous. Blooms a long time. A Xera Plants favorite perennial.

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Salvia transylvanica

Excellent, cold hardy, easy to grow, showy blue Salvia that can be hard to find. Forms a rosette of large felted deep green leaves and in summer multiple candelabras of rich blue flower spikes appear. They are wonderful for weeks. If you remove spent spikes more will appear. Blooms (re-blooms) until September. Full sun, in rich well drained soil. Rises to 30″ in bloom and forms spreading clumps to as wide in several years. Wonderful border Salvia as it accepts regular water and rich conditions. Completely deciduous in winter. Emerges mid-spring- protect new growth from marauding slugs. Once its up thats much less of a problem. Combine with Lobelia tupa, Kniphofia ‘Lightning Bug’. Easy and spectacular. Loved by hummingbirds and pollinators.

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Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Tanna’

Superb form of Burnet that is compact but supplies masses of deep maroon red lozenge shaped flowers on upright straight stems. The flowers appear from June to October and create a great hazy repetitive texture. Ideal in the front of a border or in a meadow with other plants that do not exceed its compact height. To 12″ tall and forming expanding clumps to several feet wide in time. Rich, moisture retentive soil in full sun is best. Very adaptable to heavy clay soils as long as there is regular summer irrigation. Wonderful combined with the grass Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’. Regular summer water. Blooms turn russet when they are spent but remain vertical. Leaves turn bright yellow in autumn before the whole plant disappears entirely for winter.

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Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna

A superior Christmas box – purple stem Sarcococca is a slight improvement on this useful, fragrant, and durable evergreen shrub. Fine white flowers emit a strong sweet fragrance from late December to March. Slow spreading shrub that travels locally by suckers to form patches. To 2′ tall and up to 4′ wide if soil is rich, well drained and summer irrigation is reliable. Tolerates dense dry shade well. Black/red berries can follow the flowers into spring. Cold hardy to 0ºF. May burn in full sun- best with shade or at least protection from reflected heat- like an open north exposure. A member of the boxwood family that gives it high deer resistance. It can be slow to establish without regular irrigation in the first season. Water well and apply mulch. Though tough it pays to treat this shrub well from the beginning. Cut twigs that are blooming can perfume a room in winter. First and second year stems are deeply blushed purple- very pretty in contrast with the deep green simple leaves. Combines well with native ferns and perennials like Vancouveria and Epimedium. Native to S. central china.

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Sarcococca orientalis

We think this is the best Sarcococca or Christmas box. A nice little 2′ x 2′ slow growing evergreen shrub with a formal air. In January to March relatively large white petal free flowers emit a sweet perfume. Best in part shade and rich, well drained soil. Light summer water when established. Always looks good. Can turn yellowish in full sun. Long lived trouble free shrub that delights in winter. Mass for a great perfume effect during the coldest days of the year. Moderate deer resistance. Long lived and always good looking. Flowers are large for the genus.

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Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon’s Gate’

Graceful and formal at the same time. This low arching form of winter box is wonderful with uniform thin, deep green pointed foliage on arching stems. In mid-winter to early spring the undersides of the stems are clad in fine powerfully FRAGRANT white flowers at every leaf axil. The fragrance spreads for quite a distance on mild winter days. Following the flowers are berries that turn black and arrive at red. Handsome low shrub to 2′ tall and 3′ wide suckering to form patches with time. Moderately fast growing and easy to establish shrub in the BUXACEAE which means that this boxwood relative is also deer resistant. Excellent performance in part shade to shade but not low dense shade. Massed it performs as a large scale ground cover. Light consistent summer H20 for the best looks. Takes dry conditions in shade once established- especially if you apply mulch liberally. Unlike the species it does not lose leaves in bloom which is an important difference. Finds a home under dark stairwells and foundation plantings. Impressive relatively new selection. China.

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Saxafraga x geum ‘Dentata’

Really cool evergreen Saxafrage that has deep green spoon shaped leaves that are strongly serrated. The serrations are remarkably symmetrical and give the plant a very architectural appeal. In late spring wiry stems to 10″ supply clouds of small white flowers. If you look closely each flower is adorned with yellow and red polka dots. Spreads moderately fast to form large, dense colonies in part shade to shade in rich, well drained soil with regular moisture in summer. Avoid blasting sun and dust dry soil. Not hard to grow in a cool position. Very hardy with a great year round appearance. Excellent lining woodland paths or as a pool of cool leaves beneath established shrub. Very good in winter containers. Easy to pick up and move if you need a new patch. Lovely.

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