This is a beautiful and useful plant with bright pink flowers, related to the old Bethel sage (Salvia involucrata 'Bethellii'), which used to grow in many gardens. 'Joan' is a prettier version, with better foliage, a much longer flowering period, and a more agreeable flower colour. It is less likely to spread into a huge clump although it still does creep around a bit. It looks stunning with pale pink flowers, including sasanqua camellias, or lilac blooms such as Buddleja 'Lochinch'; it is also attractive with silver, cerise or dark leaves; or purple or blue flowers. Its rich colour gives depth to pastel schemes of pale pinks, blues and silvers, which otherwise might be a little insipid.
It is just at home in a cottage-style garden with roses and traditional perennials as it is in a more semi-tropical garden. It could also go well in zany tropical colour schemes of orange, scarlet and lime green, for the bolder gardener! It grows 1.5-2 m tall, and is said to do well in sun or semi-shade, where it would combine very well with garden-hardy fuchsias. It flowers for an incredibly long time, from late spring until autumn, and even in winter in mild suburbs. I have seen it grown as an effective informal hedge. It is sensitive to severe frosts. Cut all the old stems back to the ground in late August: the new growth will be seen to be emerging at this time. It will cope reasonably well with drought and cold winters.
This Salvia forms a big, woody base as it gets older. Every few years, it can be a good idea to either chop out some of the base or else start anew with a fresh plant.