Salvias, both annuals and perennials, really earn their keep in the garden. While not my favorite plants, their consistent color makes them worth growing. These annuals, 'Lady in Red', and 'Victoria Blue' are some of the smaller salvias, which can grow as large as 6x6 feet. While salvias tend to be tender plants, 'Victoria Blue' will overwinter as a perennial if the season doesn't get too cold. Salvias are less picky about water retentive soil than penstemon which does not appreciate our long soggy winters. Perhaps because they both have spikes of tubular flowers, the two are often compared. Hummingbirds love the flowers, especially of 'Lady in Red'.
For a long time I had the perennial salvia 'East Friesland'. It was a lovely deep purple and bloomed most of the year but tended to be floppy. When it died, I found this 'May Night' for a good price at the Farmer's Market. This is its first year, so hard to say as it has not bloomed much, but it is supposedly the better plant as it should not flop. Hopefully that proves to be true.