August 5, 2010

Favorite Combination: Blue Salvia and Yellow Coreopsis

Coreopsis Big Bang™ 'Redshift'
and salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue'

Blue and yellow blooms partner well for a delightful color combination, especially in the heat of the summer. Finding the right shades can be a challenge. Many yellow flowers look gold and many blue flowers look purple. This section of my garden was another makeover in the fall of 2009. I rearranged plants and added a few new ones.

Coreopsis Big Bang™ 'Redshift'
begins blooming in July
At the "core" of my yellow, blue and burgundy garden area is Coreopsis Big Bang™ 'Redshift'. I adore this tall, hardy coreopsis. It begins blooming in midsummer for my zone 7b garden, but it doesn't stop until after a few frosts.

'Redshift' starts out a lovely butter yellow with a burgundy eye. As the weather cools in autumn, the burgundy slowly bleeds into the yellow for a peach-yellow to burgundy bloom. I like the shifting colors, but the fresh yellow blooms are at their loveliest right now.

I purchased gallon pots of this coreopsis in 2009 to skip ahead to a mature mass planting. Sometimes, I have no patience! I bought all that the nursery had at the time (four pots), but there are so many blooms, I ignored the "plant in odd numbers" rule. I planted all four in a square that looks like one big mass of yellow when in bloom.

Grow this coreopsis in zones 4-8 in full sun and well-drained soil. My plants are easily 36" high. This coreopsis almost resented the supplemental water that I provided during the worst of the dry heatwave this summer. Tough perennial! There has been no deer or bunny browsing.

I really wanted to use salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' as a companion. I grow so many clumps of this salvia and had planned to transplant, but they emerged so late (almost June), that I lost patience (and hope), purchasing salvia 'Victoria Blue' instead. I have now marked a large clump of 'Black & Blue' to divide in the cottage garden to transplant in spring 2011.

I also added a salvia guaranitica 'Omaha Gold' behind the coreopsis. That one has variegated foliage and dark blue blooms, but it isn't large enough at this point to be noticeable. I bought only one 'Omaha Gold' until I see if it overwinters.

Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue'
Back to 'Victoria Blue'. I will never be without this salvia again! Although it may not overwinter here since it is rated for zones 7b-11, I have a good source from a greenhouse grower where I can buy it in large flats at a great price. It took this salvia awhile (June) to start blooming since I purchased small plants.

Although the deer and rabbits haven't eaten any of the blooms, some gardeners report that it may be munched when food is scarce.

'Victoria Blue' is a great height (18 inches) to use in front of taller perennials. My advice is to plant the salvia close together, about 6-8 inches apart for the best look. They don't seem to mind, and the results are far better than the recommended spacing of 12 inches.

If you are inclined to add burgundy to the color scheme, I'm using purple fountain grass and gaillardia 'Burgundy'. The gaillardia is unfortunately planted in the shade of the coreopsis! I am going to have to do some rearranging to get more blooms on the gaillardia. The fountain grass, an annual here, is a fabulous companion. I used just one to try the look and have decided that it is "the" best to go with the coreopsis and salvia, given the midsummer peak blooms that last well into fall.

Note the purple fountain grass on the left side
to add a touch of burgundy. The volunteer orange
cosmos has been pulled after seeing it in this photo!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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