Most hardy perennial salvias are blue or purplish. A few are white or pink but very few are bicolours – the tall and late flowering Salvia uliginosa
comes to mind but nothing much in a smaller, more adaptable style with a really bright contrast between the colours.
Now the garden designer and plant breeder Piet Oudolf has come up with a sparkling new salvia hybrid which, after very limited mail order availability last year, will be available in garden centres soon.
Reaching about 2ft high/60cm high and about 20in/50cm wide, Salvia
‘Madeline’ features tall branching spikes carrying clusters of flowers from June and July - deadheading will prolong the display. Each flower has a violet blue hood and a white lip delicately edged in the same violet blue as the hood and also features a long white, blue-tipped stigma stretching out of the flower. The plants are self supporting, even in windy conditions, and the foliage is aromatic.
‘Madeline’ is the result of a chance cross between Salvia hians
and another unknown salvia in the summer of 1999 at Piet Oudolf’s nursery in The Netherlands. Having sown the seed from S. hians
he picked out this plant from the resulting seedlings in 2000. It is sometimes, wrongly, listed as a form of S. pratensis
As is clear, the plant was assessed for some years before being made available and it proves to be a strong and vigorous, with a compact and upright plant habit and it flowers freely. ‘Madeline’ enjoys sun and any reasonable well-drained soil.Salvia
‘Madeline’ is available from Southon Plants
and also, in April, from Squires Garden Centres