Having just returned from a vacation in California, I am so jealous to have seen a wonderful flowering specimen of S. madrensis at Cabrillo College. For years I have grown this architecturally splendid Salvia. Flower buds appear in the UK late September,only to be destroyed by the first frost, usually mid-October, when the plant is too large to bring under glass! Grrr!
In fact, just about every Salvia at Cabrillo was stunning. With differing climates, there are some Salvias that perform better in England, but there are many more that are superior in California. A prime example is S. 'Phyllis' Fancy'. My plants are good, started to flower a month ago, but those in California are to die for!
Stunning Salvias in the UK currently are S. gilliesii, S. sagittata, S. semiatrata, S. splendens(huge species), S. concolor, all the involucratas and guaraniticas, S. oxyphora, S. darcyi, and many others. All the greggii/microphylla types are even better than in early spring.
The unusually warm and moist Autumn has encouraged monstrous growth on the winter-flowering species which I have to remove to frost-free conditions under glass in the next 3 weeks. Help! I don't have enough space!