Salvia – Full Frontal or Close Up

We discovered this plant just a few years ago, salvia greggii. We bought one at a plant sale, a red one, having never seen it before. The flowers are small, not really showy. It was planted out on the slope, near some caryopteris ‘Worchester Gold’. The splash of red with the yellow leaves and blue flowers of the caryopteris really caught the eye while looking up the hill from the house. It bloomed all season, ending with the hard frost in November. To our delight, it returned the next year and was bigger and better than before. We bought more, whenever we saw one for sale. They now line the upper and lower terraces of the slope behind the house. A few are scattered in other parts of the garden as well. They respond well to a good haircut after all frost danger is past to remove any damaged stems. We don’t prune them again until the next year, although maybe we should, for they get a little straggly. But we like the way the stragglers weave into their surroundings. Trying to take photos for a picture show has proved daunting. The flowers are difficult to capture for some reason. It has been decided to show the full frontal shot, and the close up, for comparison.


Shown above, S.
Rose Queen’, the uncropped shot with the pond, maple, some dianthus and a few pansies in the background. I always like a blend of gauzy color as a background.

The close up cropped shot of the same photo as above. Out of focus, not as good a candidate for posting as the full frontal.

With the penstemon ‘Husker Red’, this one is a more pinky colored salvia. Some sedum and an evening primrose to the right are its neighbors, along with some dying daffodil foliage.

Water from the hose, not rain unfortunately, enhances the cropped shot. This one looks better than the full frontal.

The shed, dianthus and cerastium look appealing as background to S. ‘Hot Lips’.

She looks pretty kissable in the cropped shot too.

A nice dark red with some hellebores and pansies behind.

The close up shows the fuzziness of the top part of the flower along with the curlique.

Cerastium, red dianthus and hellebore foliage back this S. ‘Navaho Purple’.

The cropped close up is awful.

More dianthus, salvia ‘Caradonna’, the dark purple to the right and the concrete swan planter are the backups here.

The close up of the porous concrete makes this shot worthwhile.

Not much going on here, the ferny nigella foliage to the right looks nice.

Hot Lips are the stars here.

Not a salvia, but a good example of full frontal versus cropped. The stony path makes a perfect backdrop for the dianthus ‘Frosty Fire’. The scattered small weeds even look good. Very rugged looking.

Not sure, but the full frontal Frosty Fire had more going for it with the rocky top ground in evidence. What is your opinion?

This entry was posted in Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Salvia – Full Frontal or Close Up

  1. Gail says:


    I have also discovered and soon loved the Salvias a few years ago. You have some saucy girls and the purple is really pretty. I was trying to get a few shots of mine for Bloom Day and couldn’t get good closeups either.

    Your garden is looking wonderful, I peaked behind the Salvias!

    Raining here, how about in your garden?


  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, I like seeing both shots of flowers. The one of them in situ and the close ups.

    I just love salvia because the hummers like them so well. Your post reminds me that I need to get some and get them into the ground.

    I haven’t seen any in the nurseries around here. The salvias die here during winter but a few reseed themselves.

  3. Frances, says:

    Hi Gail, no rain yet, but it’s a’comin’. I have a couple of dirty jobs to do this morning, digging out a rose that I thought was a good one, turned out to be multiflora, and stacking branches from a tree cut down by the financier, that is another story. The salvias are great, it is fun to watch the hummers go from bush to bush.

    Hi Lisa, they seem to be the favorite of the hummers here too. We grow S. coccinea that is an annual here, it seeds itself but flowers later so we buy some too. I like both shots too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The ‘Hot Lips’ have been one of my favorites to look at in the flower magazines, but never made my wish list. They have now made my wish list. I love them, they are striking.

    Much Love, CP

  5. Dave says:

    I think both shots looked good! They may not have many flowers but those red salvias are kind of like little firecrackers going off above your garden. I think I need to get a list of perennials that you have in your garden. You have so many interesting plants!

    I’ve got some of the ‘Caradonna’ Salvia also. It performs very well here too.

  6. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Frances, I don’t think it’s just you… after expressing my frustration capturing certain flowers, I was told by someone who should know that one of the downfalls of most digital cameras is an inability to capture red colors well. Since my digital is an older one, I’m sticking to that theory!

    Your salvias are beautiful, and I so wish some of the pretty red ones would be perennial here. I do have and love that ‘Caradonna’ though. In fact, I gave away all of my ‘May Night’ once I discovered ‘Caradonna,’ fickle gardener that I am.

    I vote for the rocky dianthus shot, too, for the record. 🙂

  7. garden girl says:

    beautiful salvias Frances. Love the huskers red, and have it in a sunnier spot in my garden – wish the foliage would stay that color all season. I like both shots of the dianthus, the cropped one best.

  8. Frances, says:

    Chickenpoet, so noted that Hot Lips is on your list. I have not been able to propagate the greggiis, though have tried several times. But will keep an eye out for them at the nurseries for you, they are one of the best, and tallest. love.

    Hi Dave, those reds really draw the eye well, and Caradonna has been a winner. More of those too. Thanks for visiting.

    Hi Kim , thanks for the camera info. Light and wind are my biggest factors here. When there is no wind, early in the morning, the light is too low and the flash goes off, the colors are not as sharp. When the light is good, there is nearly always wind, hard to take a good shot with those limitations. Before blogging, I thought all my shots were good. LOL

  9. tina says:

    I think I like both shots. It is nice to see the flower in its spot as well as up close. I don’t think I grow salvia greggii but I will put it on my list. It is lovely and I like reds-and yellows and oranges…sigh. I like them all! As long as they bloom for a long time.

  10. Frances, says:

    Hi Linda, hmmm, the husker red we have does stay that color all season, in full add day sun though. We started with one plant and now have hundreds, some seedlings do have better color that others, and some even have more pink to the flowers. We have red rocks and sour grapes that have partied with husker to produce those pinker flowers, I select them out, when they are moved and in flower. It was several years before I even noticed the color. Thanks for your input about the dianthus, when the photos were loading that one jumped out at me.

    Tina, I agree, length of bloom is important and these greggiis are good from early spring until November, hard to beat that. Good drainage is required. Sometimes these are called autumn sage, but they bloom much longer.

  11. Nancy J. Bond says:

    Your red salvia is quite different from that which I’ve ever planted, but certainly no less beautiful. The ‘Frosty Fire’ dianthus is very striking!

  12. Frances, says:

    Nancy J., you may have been planting the annual salvia with the larger trumpet shaped flowers. Frosty Fire is the tiniest little dianthus, it gets lost in with bath’s pink and firewitch, it needs a place of it’s own so it can shine. Thanks for visiting.

  13. Pam/Digging says:

    Salvia greggii is a stalwart performer here in Austin. I like the red too, but I ended up with the hot pink in my garden. In back I have the ‘Hot Lips’ too—so cute.

    You’re right, S. greggii is hard to get a good picture of. If you have a custom setting on your camera, you may be able to get a cooler image that tones down the red and brings out the detail.

  14. Frances, says:

    Hi Pam, I first saw greggii in a nursery in Houston with the tag autumn sage, it looked pretty ho hum on the shelf and I passed it by. It is one of the workhorses here now, and blooms much longer than its autumn tag would indicate. I can’t do anything manual on my camera, maybe someday. Thanks for visiting.

  15. Lisa says:

    I love salvia and yours are beautiful!

  16. Frances, says:

    Hi Lisa, thanks, salvias are getting some good press lately with their drought tolerance, long color season and insect resistance. Hard to beat those qualities.

  17. Amy says:

    Well, now I just have to find myself some salvia when I go plant shopping 🙂

  18. Frances, says:

    Hi Amy, keep looking, they may not be offered for sale until they are blooming or you have a nursery that grows their own stock. They are getting more popular, so maybe they will be easier to find, good luck and thanks for stopping by.

  19. Karen Hall says:

    Hi Frances,
    I have a soft spot for salvia’s – but I particularly like your S. hot lips.

  20. Frances, says:

    Hi Karen, I should have mentioned that Hot Lips has many personalities. Some of her flowers are solid white, the church lady wearing no lipstick, some are solid red, the floozy, and some are different areas of red and white, Ms. Lips. BTW, it was sold as *red* salvia. When it started blooming with the white, I didn’t know what to think, until later found out the cultivar name. A lucky find.

  21. Kate says:

    Lovely, lovely photos! ‘Tis always a joy to visit your site and see what’s blooming in a kinder climate. – k

  22. Frances, says:

    Hi Kate, glad you came by for a look. Our climate is kind as long as no tornadoes come our way!

  23. Annie in Austin says:

    As you may have guessed, I never met a salvia I didn’t like, Frances, and I think you did well at taking their photos.
    We had an overnight storm so mine are a little beat up but will recover…

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  24. Frances, says:

    Hi Annie, I thought of you singing your salvia song so wonderfully as this was being written. Your storm is coming our way, we are getting the front edge of light rain now, with the heavy stuff to come in a bit. Thanks for the kind words. Some flowers are easy, some are difficult to capture their true beauty, or is it the colors? Hope your salvias are standing tall again by now.

  25. Becca says:

    Hi Frances, I have had one of these lovely salvia for several years now. It has been transplanted, cut down and organically treated to within an inch of its hardy life and still it sticks with me! Just last night, two hummingbirds were flitting about it.

  26. Frances, says:

    Hi,Becca,thanks for stopping by. So glad you have had good luck with your salvias too. The hummers are wild for them here also. So wonderful!

Comments are closed.