Sage is the signature fragrance of the American West, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Emily Green, who writes regularly about dry gardening. Green says it is as essential to a Western garden as lavender is to a French landscape.
Green adds that sages (Salvia spp.) aren't just a symbol of the West's pioneer past, but a 'powerhouse plant of our future' due to the drought tolerance of so many species.
In addition to California native sages, Green enjoys Canary Island Sage (Salvia canariensis), which she describes as the 'star of spring gardens.' She notes that if you are willing to spare some of the plant's buds as habitat for caterpillars, Canary Island Sage still blooms bountifully while acting as a 'butterfly nursery.'
We've grown various kinds of Canary Island Sage at Flowers by the Sea Farm. Our current favorite is Lancelot Wooly Canary Island Sage (S. canariensis 'Lancelot'), which is a shorter, intensely fragrant type with deep lavender flowers and rosy-lavender bracts. We also grow a number of pleasantly aromatic California native Salvias that bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love.