While hiking on a wooded path in the mountains or along a dry, chaparral-covered slope in southern California, you'll likely notice some incredible fragrances along the way. Many of those fragrances come from California native plants commonly sold in nurseries. They can be used to create a beautiful fragrant garden in your yard. While some fragrant native plants are fairly well known, like sage and California lilac, others haven't been discovered yet by gardeners. Be the first on your block to use these less common California native plants in your fragrant garden
This yellow flowering small gray plant isn't much to look at, but the fragrance it produces is amazing. The sweet scent makes you think of some kind of delicate vanilla dessert. Plant brickellbush (Brickellia californica) in a back corner of your yard where it doesn't get a lot of attention, and when it flowers, you will be pleasantly surprised.
These brilliant yellow California lilies are native to the mountains of southern California, where they were once abundant along mountain streams. Unfortunately, their population has dwindled due to people digging them up from the wild for their gardens. So of course, always make sure you buy your native plants from a reputable nursery. These uncommon yellow flowers hang on tall slender stalks when they are in the bud but slowly rise as their petals unfurl and their delicate sweet fragrance emerges. Plant Lemon Lily (Lilium parryi) in a moist, shady spot.
This dryland mint is nothing like the aggressive mints grown for culinary uses. It grows in dry coastal forests where it creeps along the ground under towering oaks and pines. It's great planted between stones in a shaded path or peeking out between steps where it can be crushed under passing feet. Its round, green leaves add a lush, forest-like atmosphere to a dry shade garden.
Fragrant Pitcher Sage doesn't much resemble your typical garden sage. Unlike the slender flowers of Salvia, (Lepechenia fragrans) has fat, tubular flowers large enough for the most rotund bumble bee to enter in search of pollen. These large flowers dangle in masses along the ends of the long branches which are covered in soft, fuzzy green leaves. Plant fragrant pitcher sage along a path where you can gently brush by it in passing.
Photos courtesy of Penny Wilson. Article by Penny Wilson. Penny is garden writer who specializes in California native plants.