From Fog to Sun

On this gloppy, drippy, foggy morning, the late-blooming Forsythia sage, Salvia madrensis, appears hesitant in its commitment to yellow.  I took several shots, frustrated that the camera lens wasn’t capturing the proper hue of this plant, even if it rocked a yellow vibe in the garden.  Was the lens as fogged as the air?  Was the photographer as fogged as the lens?  Was more coffee needed, or perhaps, another day’s rest from a bout of flu? (Yes, I did get a flu shot in October.  Alas!)

I neglected to prune the branches of the sage in mid-to-late summer, so the branches are floppy. Notice the rebar which follows the line of the tree? My lame attempt to keep the sage in some form of upright.

A ramble down the pathway and a halt at the plant delivers the answer: at close up view, the plant loses the veiled dullness that the distant shot suggested.  Instead, the foliage is defined and fresh, the masses of late-season, post light-freeze blooms their normal rich butter-yellow.  As long as no fog impedes, either in the atmosphere or in the flu-addled brain of the gardener, the S. madrensis retains its happy demeanor, providing a welcome counterpoint to the dark of winter.

The lush salvia flowers, situated in whirls along the terminal ends of long branches, shout look at us!  In mid-January, with only a few bare frosts under the garden’s belt, there are scattered blooms in my garden; nothing dramatic, just a few pops of red, yellow, and white, but enough to give the honeybees something to snack on during bee-friendly weather.  S. madrensis is bloom royalty this January, granting a sunny focal point in my back garden, and appreciated for its beauty, no matter what the weather conditions.

S. madrensis hits its flowering stride starting in late October, blooming until there is a mid-20s freeze.  Who knows when–or if–that will happen this year.

This cluster of blooms flops toward the pathway, almost–but not quite–impeding a walker.

My cluster of this native to the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico is a passalong from a friend and I’ve grown it for about 5 years.  Its common name, Forsythia sage, is so applied because the clusters of yellow are reminiscent of spring blooming forsythia, a common plant grown in much of North America (and elsewhere), though as far as I’m aware, it’s only in the northern third of Texas where forsythia thrives.  Until I traveled to Oregon to visit my son when he was in college, I’d never seen forsythia in real time–only in photos.

Foliage of S. madrensis is attractive in summer. Where mine is planted, its slightly blue-grey foliage stands unique among its truer green neighbors. I’ve noticed that this sage requires extra water during our hottest time of year (more than most of my plants), but that’s easily remedied because it’s planted along a pathway and situated between several bird baths, so I employ the hose in that area on a weekly basis and extra drinks of water are delivered.

In August, along with some other autumn bloomers, I prune the S. madrensis branches by one-third to one-half, but for whatever reason, this year I didn’t get around to that chore.  As a result, once the blooms burst forward, the branches drooped downward.  I chastised myself with the garden adage that if you have to stake, it’s too late to stake.  But stake I did (which you can see in the first photo) and that’s allowed most, though not all, of the branches to remain at attention (rather than flopping along the ground, annoying other plants) and proudly displaying their sunshine blooms, thus brightening the garden.

The main pollinator of S. madrensis are now dormant for winter: the Horsefly-like Carpenter beeXylocopa tabaniformis.  Interestingly, I don’t recall ever seeing honeybees at these blooms, but I have seen butterflies–just not recently.

Even with our (so far) mild winter, the grey gloom and short days remind me that appreciation of good health and garden beauty are paramount–and the joyful blooms of S. madrensis go along way to make that happen.

In celebration of my Central Texas, zone 8b blooms–and all others–I’m joining in today with Carol of May Dreams Garden and her Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day–I really need to do this more often!   As well, Wednesday is always a good day for garden ditties, so I’m also joining with Anna of Flutter and Hum and her Wednesday Vignette.  Check out both these beautiful blogs for gardening insights.

24 thoughts on “From Fog to Sun

  1. Oh, I love that! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a yellow Salvia before. It’s beautiful!
    Thanks also for the Bloom Day reminder. Might have to put something together for that – it’s a fun meme, and my hellebores will make that task rather easy on this end. They are popping everywhere!


    • Yellow salvia are rare–which is why this one is such a gem! I’ve really enjoyed having it in garden; so glad for gardening friends who share.

      I like Bloom Day too, but it’s been a while since I regularly participated. There are other blooming memes, but I like that I can profile many-or just one. That works nicely for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your Forsythia sage is doing really well. I have had one for many years and it hasn’t bloomed in many years. It is probably in the wrong location and also getting too much water. I grew up with Forsythia and it was a bush that was barely noticed as everyone had one. But, after many years in this part of Texas without them, now I appreciate the bush’s wonderful yellow blooms when I get to see them.


    • It is doing well there. Interestingly, I’ve transplanted other bits (it transplants well by root) and none of the other spots have proved to be the sage’s happy place–except this one spot.

      I remember seeing the forsythia in Oregon, knowing immediately what it was because it’s such an iconic garden plant.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Go Ducks! Journalism/Arabic major/minor. U of O was an odd, but good, choice for him and I LOVED going to Oregon to visit!!

      It’s been an odd bug. I finally saw a doc today, mostly because I thought my ears were getting a secondary infection, but while clogged, there doesn’t seem to be infection. I was given a prescription for the ears and told to keep on, keeping on: fluids, rest, fluids, rest, fluids rest…


      • I was a Duck for a year before seeking sunshine. It’s a beautiful campus with a lot to do (or not do) as you choose. I am glad you got those visits!

        My ears did a weird clog/pop/whoosh thing for a few days on the downhill from the bug. That was a first for me.


      • You’re so right–gorgeous campus. We came VERY close to buying a home there, it was so perfect for us. I got cold feet, though; my dad was still alive and I just couldn’t get my head around being that far away. I regret that decision, but there it is. I still have a realtor in Eugene and I contact her for more info on a house from time-to-time, but realistically, with Sharon next door now, it’s easier and probably more practical to stay here.

        The viruses going around are weird this year. I’m usually healthy, so this has flattened me, but I’m on the mend and so grateful.


    • So true to have color in January, but it’s been a mild one for us so far. I’d like to get at least one really cold, killing freeze.

      I’m feeling better tonight than I felt in a week. Yay!


  3. I’ve never grown a yellow sage before but it’s a beauty. I have mixed results with Salvias but some sources tell me it should viable in my part of the country (zone 11a) even if the sunset guide I usually rely on fail to list it. Best wishes for a speedy recovery from the flu!


    • Kris, it’s a lovely plant, I’ve enjoyed growing it. It grows rangy, if that doesn’t bother you, too much. It wouldn’t be quite so rangy if I’d pruned in in late summer, but, oh well.

      Thanks for your good wishes—I think I’m on the mend!


  4. Oh quite a discovery for me,never seen or heard of Yellow salvia that too such pretty yellow,we only have white,red,purple that as an annual salvias in our region.Happy Blogger blooms day.


    • Arun, I guess I didn’t realize just how rare yellow salvia are–that’s been the majority of comments about the sage. You’re right though, most salvia blooms are all other colors–but yellow!


  5. I’m presuming that beauty requires sun, and probably a lot of it. I still haven’t seen a bit of sunlight creep onto my patio, but by the equinox, I’ll have a better sense of whether I’m going to get any at all. The problem is that by the time the sun moves farther north, the currently barren trees will be getting leaves again, and probably will shade the patio anyway.

    Which is to say: I’d love to be able to grow this. I grew up with forsythia, pussy willows, and flowering almond, and I really miss them all. But I especially miss the forsythia. I see it in the grocery stores from time to time, but it’s sometimes a dollar a stem, which is just too pricey for something that won’t last much more than a week. This would make a great substitute; it’s beautiful.

    And I’m glad you’re feeling better!


    • Linda, mine gets all day dappled light, with maybe some direct sun in late afternoon during the growing season. It’s in my back garden which (if you’ve notice, I’m always whining about being very shady). It’s a little thirstier than I like in a plant, but since I only have one group and it’s easy to get to for watering, I’m okay with that. It blooms really late in the season; it’s actually the last thing in my garden (typically) for blooming. But the foliage is quite pretty. I’ve been very happy with it.

      Thanks–I think I’m over the worst of it. Today is the first day that felt normal to me, though I still have some fatigue. I guess a few more days of some day-time nodding off might be in order. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like a surprisingly tough salvia and such a nice shade of yellow too. Forsythia is a touch too strident for me! Having said that I’ve got a nice patch of winter jasmine opposite the back door which is lighting up my border just now. Thanks for introducing me to a yellow sage!


    • It’s worked for me, at least in the spot it’s in! I love winter jasmines; they really do brighten a dull winter garden. I noticed that my mahonia are setting blooms–another cheery yellow in the near future and my honeybees love those blooms!


    • That’s been the biggest surprise with the post: the number of gardeners who didn’t know a yellow (REAL yellow) salvia exists. I’ve had it long enough, that I’d forgotten that it’s an odd color for salvia. It’s very cheering in the winter!

      Liked by 1 person

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