Martyn Falconer, the AELTC Head Gardener, knows all about seeds, blossoming talent and rampant climbers. In this series, he nominates his Plant of the Day.
New in 2015, the Salvia Amistad returns this year with defending champion status in the Wimbledon horticultural rankings. With its ink-black sepals and regal violet petals, this particular salvia is rated as an absolute show-stealer. Strikingly pretty, hardy and a reliable flowerer, it is greatly valued by Head Gardener Martyn Falconer.
“The Salvia Amistad are really nice tall structured plants in a glorious deep purple,” Martyn says, pointing to the spire-like flower shoots and glossy green leaves which work so well with the other colours in the All England Club palette.
Salvia Amistad’s size, shape and colour make it a winner in SW19. Its size ensures rich splashes of purple above the base-level foliage cover. The shape pays homage to the landmark spire of St Mary’s Church on the hill of Wimbledon village, which pierces the horizon in all the iconic panorama shots of the ground. And its colour sees it hailed beyond the boundaries of the All England Club as the most beautiful salvia to ever hit the market.
You can’t fault a flower with a name of such lovely associations. Salvia derives from the Latin salvere ("to feel well and in good health "), referring to the herb's healing properties. ‘Amistad’ means friendship in Spanish.
Nor one that is special for the number of bees it attracts, thanks to an unusual pollination mechanism too complex to go into here. (It's all to do with staminal levers...).
The genus ‘Salvia’ is the largest of plants in the mint family, and commonly referred to as sage. Many of the species are used as herbs, as ornamental plants and as aromatic additions to a flower bed.
The Amistad is technically a Salvia guaranitica or anise sage and is said to have magical anti-fungal qualities when planted under susceptible roses.
Question: What is the connection between the Hill and Mount Vesuvius?
Answer: Salvia Amistad.
Wimbledon is big on history. So it is particularly thrilling to report that the Salvia gives the 130th edition of The Championships a direction connection with the ancient world. The plant was first described by Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist and philosopher, who died in AD79 on a ship while attempting to rescue his family and friends from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.