Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ was a chance seedling in the garden of Wendy Smith in Victoria, Australia. As she is an enthusiastic salvia grower there were several candidates which might have been the parents but a Salvia buchananii x Salvia splendens cross seems the most likely, the first contributing the deep magenta colour and the latter the dramatic calyxes.
Salvia specialist Sue Templeton recognised that it was an outstanding plant and suggested to Wendy that she have the plant patented, a process which was handled for her by Plants Management Australia, a licensing and marketing company which manages the protection and introduction of new plant varieties across the globe. This arrangement ensured that a portion of the proceeds of each sale returned to Wendy Smith and she arranged that it be donated to the Australian Make-a-Wish Foundation, an organisation which makes wishes come true for children with life-threatening, chronic illnesses.
Gardeners worldwide fell in love with Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ and the reaction to its philanthropic aspect inspired Plants Management Australia to repeat it with two subsequent cultivars.
A sport with bright coral-coloured flowers arose on a plant of Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ in one of Plant Grower’s Australia’s nurseries. They wished to continue the contributions to Make-a-Wish Australia but also added to the publicity – and very significantly to the income – by auctioning the rights to name this new plant. Paul and Lyn Shegog, from Tasmania, won the auction and named the plant in memory of their teenage children Emma and Brett who had died from an incurable genetic condition – Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’.
The third in the series came as a result of the deliberate breeding efforts of John Fisher who lives in Orange, New South Wales, Australia. He sought to produce salvias in new colours and used ‘Wendy’s Wish’ as one of his parent plants. He was also enthusiastic about the support which Plants Management Australia gave to the Make-a-Wish Foundation; named the plant Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ and contributed a portion of the proceeds from sales to the foundation also.
While we can enjoy these salvias in our gardens it adds to the pleasure that they also support a very worthy cause.