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. It was found in an Australian garden and named by salvia expert Sue Templeton. '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.