The Balkan clary or woodland sage, Salvia nemorosa is a plant that has really realised its full potential in recent years. A slew of longer-flowering hybrids of compact habit and elegant form have become the signature plant of garden designers, catapulting them to public attention.
Being in the sage family, Lamiceae, the clump of grey to sea-green foliage is strongly aromatic. In summer, spires of blue, blue-purple or white flowers appear from darker calyces (sepals). The flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies, so ideal if you want to attract pollinating insects.
The Balkan clary grows throughout central Europe into Western Asia, growing in well-drained soil in open, sparse grassland and other open spaces. Variable in the wild and easily crossed with other related species, it's no wonder that new, improved forms are constantly being introduced.
They need moist, but well-drained soil in sun. Overall, they're easily grown and perform reliably, flowering over the summer months. They can be cut back in autumn or the seed heads left on for decorative effect. They can be nibbled by slugs and snails, which will need controlling before new spring growth is damaged.