With spring quickly becoming summer, the foliage of Salvia brandegei joins the deep greens of the garden.
A native of the coastal scrub community of the Channel Islands, where it grows with Rhus integrifolia, Artemisia californica, Aesculus parryi and Melica californica, Salvia brandegei is planted in a neglected corner in our garden.
The little area receives no summer water, and while this salvia can look a bit stressed by the end of the season, it is revived with the first cool days of autumn and the winter rains that bring on the whorls of violet flowers.
Salvia brandegei makes a great specimen shrub in a garden. It can reach up to 5 feet in height and 7 feet in width. Its forest green leaves are linear in shape and heavily textured.
The small white hairs on the undersides are clues to its toughness in the face of drought, wind and sun. If given too much water, Salvia brandegei becomes leggy.
The plant is striking with the contrast of the dark textured foliage against ruby-colored stems and plum-colored calyces. Flowering begins at the end of February and lasts until the heat of summer, when like many natives, it rests until the cooler weather of fall returns.
Salvia brandegei is loved by hummingbirds and bees, makes a wonderful cut flower, is easy to propagate from vegetative cuttings and does not have any pests or diseases. Like many salvias, they do not seem to be bothered by deer, but as all gardeners can attest, deer will try things that are listed as deer-proof.
Maintenance on this salvia is easy. Remove dead flowers after blooming in the early summer, and cut back lightly to shape, removing any dead branches.