In the fall, the long lasting, spiky blooms of Red Firespike, Odontonema strictum, and Forsythia Sage, Salvia madrensis, tower above the rest of the shade garden. Their graceful spires beckon all the flying, flitting and buzzing creatures to come sample their nectar.
Planting the yellow and red blossoms together was purely happenstance. Next spring more of this combination will be used around the garden. Both of these plants root easily from cuttings and both are root-hardy in winter.
The bright yellow blooms of Forsythia Sage show up really well in the shady corner. But the square-shaped stems are not quite sturdy enough to keep those spikes aloft without being staked. This plant will root readily where the stems touch the ground and it sends out suckers from the roots. A small cutting can turn into quite a large clump by the next season after planting.
When brushed against, the foliage releases a very unpleasant odor. The scent is reminiscent of fish emulsion fertilizer. Because of it's height, this is a back of the border plant so it isn't often that anyone other than the gardener would notice the less than delightful fragrance.
The original Red Firespike is planted with Stromanthe sanguinea 'Tricolor'. This grouping was purposefully planted. Since the Stromanthe multiplies nicely and makes it through winter with just minor leaf damage, there are plans for moving divisions of it around the garden in the future.
These red blooms began showing up in August and now, in November new ones are still blossoming. The yellow blooms made a late showing beginning late October and should persist for six weeks or so.