LA’s New “It” Girl

Hummingbird Sage’s Fresh Look and Scent Enchants Los Angeles

Roses, camellias, and birds of paradise Рall are so frequently seen in California landscapes as to be taken for natural parts of our environment. Episodes of everything from Entourage to Southland firmly plant these blooms into our mental images of the city.  In truth, each were imported and promoted until they reshaped the look of Los Angeles.
Salvia spathacea, aka Hummingbird Sage, California native: While the blooms catch the eye, the foliage of Hummingbird Sage makes an excellent adaptable, slow-spreading ground cover. (Photo: New Look for LA in the Center Circle at Descanso Gardens)

As we look to create outdoor spaces more in keeping with our climate, we have an opportunity to create a truly authentic look and feel for our city through use of plants native to our region. In this climate of authenticity, one bloom emerges as a particularly appealing ingenue.

Like the rose, Hummingbird Sage has a unique and intoxicating smell. While the fragrance of a rose emanates from its temporary bloom, the foliage of Hummingbird Sage carries its scent as well. You can take the fragrance of Hummingbirds Sage with you by simply touching its leaves at any time of year, and a plant or two will fill the air with its perfume.

Just as Birds of Paradise will slowly spread to fill a space, Hummingbird Sage will gently fill the space allowed for it. It thrives in shade or full sun, adapting as it spreads. Its dense, soft leaves provide a lush feel even when it is not in bloom.

While Camellias charm with their open faced blooms, Hummingbird Sage blooms look more like a magic wand with a multiplicity of blooms. We now see the stalks of these blooms add their magic to parkways near the beach, retain slopes in the San Gabriel Valley, and replace rows of annuals in mid-city.

We couldn’t have a better beauty following the lead of Los Angeles’ great, blooming ladies.

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