(Salvia apiana)

I love earthy fragrances: sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh have been my favorites since childhood and were the first incense I bought with my weekly allowance.  Today those scents are still among my favorites, but their carbon footprint, fair-trade concerns, as well as threatened plant species make acquiring these oils ethically difficult. However, through research and gardening, I have found a sustainable alternative to the wonderfully rich aromatic sensations of the earth in my own back (and front) yard.

Sages, all species, are in the mint family of plants. Their leaves contain fragrant oils, with some sages exuding their aromas whenever the weather changes, and others needing a gentle touch to appreciate their gifts. White sage is the strongest smelling of all the species and contains so much oil that only a slight touch is needed to  awaken the nasal passages.

While not everyone appreciates the pungent aroma of white sage, its highly flammable oils are why it’s the most popular for smudging in and around homes. Did you know it only takes 4 to 5  leaves to complete the ceremony? Smudge sticks are overkill, literally, as entire plants have been uprooted to make these sticks, and the intention of the harvester is unknown.  It is so much better to grow your own sage, harvest with pure intentions, and leave the plant able to grow more leaves, to flower, and continue its journey, too.

I love my diffuser and use it daily, especially upon rising and at bedtime. But growing my own fragrant garden brings other pleasures.  I can relax outside to waft the aromas, I have plantings that wildlife use, and when needed, I can burn leaves of white sage to purify my space or to share with others for theirs.


About the Author:

Kay is a retired school teacher and holds a Certificate in Field and Nature Studies.  She has a passion for botany, native plants and permaculture.