This is one in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.
"Smokie" coast rosemary
Westringia fruticosa "Smokie"
Size: 4 to 6 feet tall
Bloom season: Spring, summer, fall
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Pruning needs: Prune to shape; can be sheared into a hedge
Water needs: Once the plant is established, water deeply every two weeks
Snapshot: The thin leaves of this evergreen shrub remind gardeners of rosemary (hence the nickname), but this Australian native loves sunny California. Naturally drought-resistant and long- lived, it forms a dense bush up to 6 feet tall and wide. Tinged with violet, the small, white flowers make it a favorite for beneficial insects. The variegated "Smokie" variety stays more compact than other kinds of coast rosemary. Its distinctive leaves have cream-colored margins, making it a very attractive shrub. It's also hardy down to 20 degrees and can tolerate wind. You can see specimens in the arboretum's Australian collection on the UC Davis campus.
Why it's a Favorite: "This compact variety seems hardier than the others, and its white foliage really shines in light shade," said GATEways horticulturist Ryan Deering, a member of the arboretum's staff.