Best of Class
Best of Class

Remember in childhood when you received a ribbon for doing a super job on a task or in a competition? It signaled an accomplishment of which others took notice. There are times at Flowers by the Sea when we pause from work and glimpse a plant that is particularly beautiful and reliable. We feel like hanging a colorful county-fair-type ribbon on it to proclaim top achievement. This Best of Class list shares the plants we honor as being winners in many ways. We give them accolades for great garden performance.

Each of our Best of Class plants is marked with a first-place ribbon icon giving a brief explanation of how it is tops. The accolade marks plants that are tops within a specific grouping or species for combinations of characteristics such as adaptability, appearance, cold hardiness, drought resistance, durability, ease of growth, heat tolerance, long bloom time, pest resistance, size and usability in particular circumstances.

Regarding usability, for example, we might recommend one plant as best of class among Salvia groundcovers for dry slopes and another as the best groundcover for damp shade.

This way of identifying fine performers is similar to the kind of "super plant" recommendations that university extension services sometimes offer. We base our Best of Class selections not only on experience with the plants in our gardens but on feedback from customers around the nation. When you call or write to us, we really do pay attention.

Keep in mind that what is best for your garden may not be best in another region with different growing conditions. When selecting plants from our catalog, please read their descriptions carefully to be sure they fit your local climate and any special features of your property. If a Best of Class plant is right for your USDA zone, summer heat, water availability and soil characteristics as well as the size and light level of the planned growing area, then it is one of the best choices you can make.

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(Bee's Bliss Sage) If you are looking for a California native sage to use as a groundcover, Bee's Bliss is a fine choice. Low-growing, widespreading and colorful, it is ideal for choking weeds.

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(Big Swing Sage) With its large, cobalt blue flowers displayed on strong, wiry, branched stems, this eye-catching sage wins the FBTS "best of class" designation for being our top Salvia macrophylla.

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(Elk Bella Rosa Jame Sage) The large, creamy pink and burgundy flowers of this sage are stately in contrast with its deep green, veined, ovate foliage that is pleasantly fragrant. Elk Bella Rosa is as elegant as its name implies. It's also long blooming.

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(Elk Blue Note Sage) In Europe and Australia there is a popular and widely used seed grown Salvia variety called 'Blue Note'. Our offering, 'Elk Blue Note', is the result of several generations of careful breeding and selection.

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(Elk Crème Anglaise Jame Sage) Framed by minty green foliage, the blossoms of Salvia x ‘Elk Crème Anglaise’ transition from dreamy pale pink throats to white skirts. They look delectable.

 

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(Elk Crimson King Jame Sage) Sometimes words fail us when trying to describe a unique new color. Definitely red, but with a clear blue overlay and a blue eye. Featuring masses of flowers that delight pollinators, this FBTS introduction is new for 2017.

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(Elk Lemon Light Jame Sage) We are proud to offer this luminescent, pure yellow Salvia x jamensis -- a color breakthrough from our own breeding program. The bright, light blossoms cool the landscape similar to white flowers, but with colorful impact.  The glossy green leaves are quite small - a very attractive and distinctive characteristic.

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(Elk Morning Sun Jame Sage) Kelly green and black calyxes support the long blooming, creamy white and pale pink flowers of Salvia x ‘Elk Morning Sun’. A waterwise sage, it likes average watering but resists drought.

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(Elk Plum Parfait Jame Sage) It's a toss-up as to which are more dramatic -- the deep purple calyxes so dark they almost look black or the plum-colored flowers with pronounced white beelines. Elk Plum Parfait is a rare treat.

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(Elk Screamin' Scarlet Sage) Wow. No, double wow. This brilliantly colored new variety is nothing short of stunning. The glossy green leaves are the perfect foil for the flowers, which at times are so numerous that the are all you can see.
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(Elk Twilight's Rosy Glow Jame Sage) Rosy red hairs accentuate the upper lip of each dusky, salmon-pink blossom of this cheery Jame Sage. The flowers are tiny but abundant and are supported by bright green calyxes.

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(Ember's Wish Sage) Bright coral-colored, tubular blossoms contrast handsomely with the deep maroon stems, rusty rose calyxes and mid-green foliage of Ember's Wish Sage.

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(Love and Wishes Sage) Deep purple calyxes support the magenta-purple, tubular blossoms of Salvia x 'Love and Wishes'. They contrast handsomely with dark stems and mid-green foliage.

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(Mulberry Jam Roseleaf Sage) Magenta flower buds burst into fuzzy, hot pink blossoms in this hybrid sage from the gardens of Betsy Clebsch, author of The New Book of Salvias.

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(Penny's Smile Hybrid Sage) British Salvia aficionado Robin Middleton, of the indispensable Robin’s Salvias website, developed this lovely and hardy hybrid from a chance seedling he found near the Salvia ‘Silke’s Dream’ in his garden. Heavily textured and hot pink, the 1-inch-long flowers are bright as lipstick.
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(Scarlet Spires Sage) This is a brilliant cross between the sturdy D'Arcy's Sage (Salvia darcyi) and the beautifully colored 'Raspberry Delight' Littleleaf Sage (Salvia microphylla 'Raspberry Delight').

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(Wendy's Wish Sage) A new hybrid Salvia from Australia, Wendy's Wish is absolutely spectacular! Quick to bloom, compact and tidy in habit, we believe this to be one of the finest of all Salvia varieties.

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(California Sunset Hybrid Jame Sage) Entranced is the only word to describe how we felt when we first saw the sunset pastels of this Jame Sage. After growing it for multiple seasons, we are just as impressed by its compact, well-branched form.
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(Dyson's Orangy Pink Hybrid Jame Sage) Many Salvia x jamensis hybrids remind gardeners of sunrise, such as Dyson's Orangy Pink. Light green calyxes faintly striped with red cup its luminous pale salmon pink blossoms with creamy throats.

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(Shell Dancer Sage) So many sages combine resilience and loveliness. This includes Salvia 'Shell Dancer', which withstands heat and drought yet has delicate looking blossoms and lush green foliage.

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(Tangerine Ballet Hybrid Jame Sage) Soft pinkish-orange flowers with contrasting yellow eyes make this Jame Sage look as tasty as sorbet. Hardy to at least 10 degrees F, Tangerine Ballet is also heat tolerant, drought resistant and long blooming-- all marks of Salvias in the closely related Autumn and Mountain Sage group.

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(Scarlet O'Hara Hardy Gloxinia) This plant's  long, tubular, deep pink flowers dangle from apple green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above slightly furry, soft green leaves. This older hybrid of South American gloxinias can handle a bit of winter chill.

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(Shelby Hardy Gloxinia) Shelby's long, tubular, creamy pink flowers dangle from apple green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above slightly furry, soft green leaves. This Suncrest Nurseries hybrid of South American gloxinias can handle a bit of winter chill.

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