Through the Keyhole

On 29th September Harriet and I attended a Garden Media Guild Event in Surrey.

The car ride should have taken 2 hours from door to door, and so when we were faced with clusters of red brake lights on numerous occasions, it was doubtful we would make it to the event full stop, let alone on time.

Somehow, miraculously we entered the county of Surrey with a few minutes to spare, and turned into a quiet suburban road. We walked up the driveway to a lovely looking property and were met by a group of friendly faces.

Who had we come to visit? What was it that we intended to see? Who lives in a house like this?

I can imagine the suspense is killing you - Am I right?

We were at Robin Middleton's private abode, about to take a peek into his magnificent Salvia Garden. This is a collection accumulated over 20 years, producing one of the largest collections of Salvia in the UK.

If you are not familiar with Robin, please take a look at his website to read a little more about him and to look at the extensive gallery of Salvia he has carefully nurtured over the years:

Robin was the most gracious and accommodating host, kindly inviting us into his private home and garden. There was even a beautiful array of freshly baked cake and refreshments.

As we walked to the back doors and stepped outside, the vision presented before us was exquisite. You could almost hear the intake of breath as we gasped at the beauty, elegance and sheer volume of Salvia packed into this wonderful space.

The first glimpse of Robin Middleton's spectacular Salvia Garden 

A beautiful concoction of colour, texture and structure

As we moved deeper into the garden, another divine quality was the fantastic fragrance which followed us around the patio, meandering along the flower beds and back path, all the way to the boundary fence.

Salvia greeted us along the path right up to the back fence 

The day was rather grey at first with a short outburst of rain which was so disheartening. I felt desperately sorry for Robin as I am sure he would have rather showcased his glorious creation in brilliant sunshine. With that said, the sun did break through the clouds later on and we were able to have a thorough tour minus umbrellas, hoods and soggy notebooks.

As a Salvia novice, it was lovely to see so much colour and so many varieties working alongside one another with spectacular results. It provided reams of inspiration and has prompted me to buy a collection in the new year.

I was truly taken aback by the boldness of colour in some of the flower beds:

Salvia Hybrid of S. sagittata x S. cacaliifolia

Salvia Madrensis

Salvia 'Lemon Light'
Salvia 'Joan'

Salvia splendens 'Giant'
Salvia 'Stephanie'
A lucky shot - unnamed seedling. 
Salvia 'James Curry'
Salvia 'Sebastian' - a temporary name
Salvia splendens 'Peach'
 Salvia curviflora
Salvia 'Mystic Spires'

Salvia 'Phyllis Fancy'
Salvia fulgens from Mt.Popocatapetl

 Salvia 'Jeremy' (to be released next year). - Sister to 'Hot Lips'

Salvia 'Amistad'

Robin Middleton kindly offering cuttings

Although Robin's garden consists predominantly of Salvia, he has found space for other complimentary and stunning blooms:

Another fine feature of elegance and stunning colour

Dahlia 'Weston Spanish Dancer'

Unknown Dahlia - perhaps you can identify it?

Cleome Senorita carolina


I hope that Robin has inspired you as much as he inspired us!

Salvia provide delicate structure without imposing disruptively to companion plants and are available in a wide range of colour and form. This makes them suitable to a range of garden styles and themes, alongside being appropriate for both large and small gardens, within flower beds, borders and containers.

What is there not to love?

Do you have Salvia growing in your gardens? I would love to see and hear about the varieties you love and nurture! 


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