Date(s) - 13/07/2018
Kilmington Village Hall
Foxplants is a local plant nursery specialising in salvias, based in Axminster, and Jo is its enthusiastic founder. With a background of horticultural training and hands-on experience at Cothay Manor, her interest in salvias was sparked by holidays in Central America where these exotic flowers are part of the natural landscape. Back home in Axminster, Jo was offered a second-hand 30 metre greenhouse for £10 which gave her a base from where to fulfil her dream of propagating salvias.
Salvias are a huge genus with over 1000 species of shrubs and perennials of which Foxplants currently stocks about 230. Although the majority come from the Americas, other species are also found in Asia and the Mediterranean. Diversity is one of their main attractions, all colours, all sizes, different shapes and all of them fragrant. In addition to the spectacular sequence of slides used to illustrate individual species, Jo had brought many plants to show examples of the enormous range available. Majestic Salvia confertiflora has huge leaves and spikes of tiny red flowers. At the other end of the scale, super-fragrant Salvia namiensis is diminutive, tiny-leaved and lemon-scented. The colour range is mainly red/pink/white and blue/mauve/purple although there are some yellows. Leaves are similarly diverse in size and form with colours ranging from dark green through grey to silver.
Jo offered us many tips on growing salvias. Propagation is mainly by cuttings, taken in mid to late summer; herbaceous perennials should be cut back in October and shrubby types in spring, pruning back to the first sign of new growth. Taller perennials also respond well to the ‘Chelsea chop’. Given good drainage, salvias require little attention and reward the gardener with long months of flower. It was not surprising that members crowded round the sales bench after such an inspiring talk.