Southern California Native White Sage

Written by: Tara Feld -Landscape Designer
Contributor’s website: Tara Feld Design

Enjoying California State Parks this spring season is a fantastic resource for Los Angeles residents who want to observe and learn more about Southern California native plants in their natural habitat.
Thriving in sunny areas, with good air circulation, in well-drained dry soil the Salvia apiana (white sage) grows wild through out the restored native habitat of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, located just southwest of downtown. This is a great destination to see the evergreen perennial White Sage shrub native to Southern California (and Baja California) currently blooming till June. 
The tall stalks of white to lavender colored sage flowers tower over the shrub creating a dramatic place of interest for pollinating bumblebees and humming birds. Wonderful clear, pale and superfine honey is produced from these blossoms. 
The pale silver-green foliage of the white sage shrub is wonderful to touch as the leaves release aromatic oils. Native American tribes use sacred sage for both medicinal and ceremonial purposes. The practice of smudging (burning) dried sage leaves tied in sticks or wands are used in native ceremonies. Smudging is used to purify and a space and or person from any ‘negative’ energy (evil spirits), while also bringing in ‘positive energy’. 
Many native wildflowers are emerging this spring season. This image is of the Dove lupin, one of many native Lupins now blooming through out California. At the Baldwin hills overlook park, the larger and taller blooming variety of Bush lupin is growing all over the hillsides and trails in a beautiful display flowers in pale lavender to sky blue. Contrasting the opalescent purple Bush lupin blooms, the California golden poppy is now just starting to emerge blooming vibrant golden yellow flowers till May. The sight of this landscape of colorful wildflowers, gently moving in the wind, glittering against the lush green background is simply divine to observe. 
 The heavy spring rain this season has encouraged the wild Mustard Seed plants to thrive and tower over the landscape in large lush green patches. Wild Mustard Seed reaches an outstanding height of four feet tall from April to July. Soon many of the early spring wild flowers will be dwarfed and dominated by the tall bright yellow mustard seed flowers. Only at this time a year in early spring can we Californian’s witness the landscape being painted over in such a spectacular yellow hue. Come summertime all of the mustard seed plants will be dry and brown, disguised as brush and a skeleton of the wild display of spring. 
 Exercise by climbing the stairs, or take a hike on the switch back trail to the top of the hill. Enjoy watching children flying kites and photographers capturing the incredible cityscapes at the top of the park overlook.
The breathtaking panoramic views at the top of the overlook trail will be your new favorite spot to bring your partner, family and or friends.
Visit the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook for directions, park hours and parking information.  
Special Thanks to botanical Photographer Crystal Perez for her generous and beautiful photographic contributions to April 2011 TARA FELD DESIGN blogs. If you are interested in viewing more or Crystal Perez’s photography, please contact me, TARA FELD at for information.
Designer Tips of the Day:
Harvesting Wild White Sage :
Be mindful and please resist the urge to harvest white sage from any California State Parks and or Santa Monica Mountain natural habitats. Newly restored native plant habitats are becoming increasingly more vulnerable everyday. Many people carelessly over pick a shrub or sage patch leaving the plants without any leaves or stems. Sadly the white sage shrub then becomes stunted, unable to produce blooms or seeds, and looses its ability to reproduce for another year. It is best to purchase native white sage smudge sticks and wands locally at a farmers market and or retail health store/ market.
Watering New Drought Tolerant Gardens:
Regular watering vs. low watering is recommended for the first year of establishing a new drought tolerant garden. Water is the critical element to developing a native plants root system. However, in the wintertime for instance white sage prefers little to no water when it receives less sun exposure and more seasonal rainfall.
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Contributor’s website: Tara Feld Design

(images credits: Baldwin Hills Overlook Park Sage Garden, Hiking Trails, and White Sage Detail Photography and Images by TARA FELD DESIGN. Dove Lupin, and Wild Mustard Seed Flower Images by Photographer Crystal Perez)

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