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.

Diggin’ In

The little honeybee was all in as she worked the center of the Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.  Surrounded by glorious orange walls, with an extended garden of grey-green, she exhibited single-mindedness toward her important pollination work.

As I watched, she crawled around the pollen-laden center of the bloom, oblivious to me and anything else that might disrupt her concentrated efforts.  Her movements were frenzied, focused solely on the pistils of the flower.

Eventually, she worked her way out of her orange office, flew to another bloom, pollen grains speckled on her various parts.

Celebrating her dedication to task, I’m joining in with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.  Check out her beautiful Flutter and Hum for musings of various sorts.

The Wall

A couple of nights ago, I attended a showing of Ay Mariposa.  It’s a lovely film which tells the story of a Mexican immigrant, Zulema Hernandez, who crossed the Rio Grand to live, work, and raise her family in the southernmost valley of Texas.   It’s also the story of the National Butterfly Center and its director, Marianna Treviño Wright, and her battle against the building of the wall along the southern border between the United States and Mexico.

The film focuses on how expansion of the wall is obliterating the remaining natural habitat of one of the most diverse ecological regions in all of North America, while also reminding viewers of the humanity of the people who cross the border seeking only a better life and adding their gifts to our culture and economy.

Another award winning film that I saw some time ago is The River and the Wall.  This gorgeous film profiles a group of scientists and adventurers who travel–by bicycle, on horseback, by foot, and in canoes–from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico which is the entire 1200 miles of the Texas/Mexico border.   The viewer travels with the team observing stunning landscapes and meeting wonderful people.  Through that experience, one appreciates the absurdity of building a wall alongside this beautiful, demanding river border.

If you want to see either or both films, or learn more about the people involved, the history of the wall, or how you can help prevent the destruction of long-standing communities and rare, remarkable habitat, check out these links:

https://www.aymariposafilm.com/

https://theriverandthewall.com/

Both websites have a short summary of their respective films and instructions on purchasing a DVD or download, or viewing a screening near you.

Male Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) nectaring on Frostweed (Verbesina virginica)

Shoreacres of The Task at Hand and Lagniappe, graciously posted in her comment this pertinent and sweet song from Texas “Environmental Troubadour” Bill Oliverhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2osbIZyaPg&feature=youtu.be

In working for change, I’m joining in with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.  Check out her beautiful Flutter and Hum for musings of various sorts.