September 1st, 2006
It’s Official–It’s Fall in Austin

Rhodophiala bifida
I’m cheating a bit because this is a photo from last September…anticipation.

Just as gardeners who I read about in books anxiously look for spring in the first buds of crocuses pushing through the snow, we Austin gardeners look for the first sign of fall in the buds of the oxblood lily (Rhodophiala bifida). Last Sunday (8/27) I noticed some buds in a bed I was watering and thought, “Summer can’t last much longer now.”

And then Tuesday morning (8/29) a front pushed through and it rained. The rain wasn’t much; it barely soaked in a 1/32 of an inch. But when you haven’t had rain in almost two months every drop is glorious. And the temperatures! The high was only in the 80s. The low dropped into the 60s. Oh it really did feel like fall, for a day.

Wednesday morning I looked out my bedroom window and saw the first oxblood lilies in bloom. I jumped up and ran out to look at them. It wasn’t the rain that caused them to flower; it was because they were near some lavender I was watering. (As usual, they flowered for Rantor first, who reported first flower on 8/23–and also that the Spanish name is azucenita roja.)

Never mind that on Thursday Austin was back to 102, Friday 100. This weekend rain is in the forecast. And next week our highs will only be in the 90s. Yep. Fall is here. An oxblood lily told me.

by M Sinclair Stevens

6 Responses to post “It’s Official–It’s Fall in Austin”

  1. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    I join you in fall anticipation by looking every day for signs of my spider lilies. They come up amid my black-eyed Susans after I cut those back at the end of summer. So far, no sign, so I’m still waiting.

  2. From Craig:

    Thank you for your gorgeous picture of beautiful plants. I was never successful growing Rhodophiala but I would have tried harder after seeing your plants. I have to admit enjoying fall blooming bulbs more than the spring ones.

  3. From Hanna in Cleveland:

    Wow. Those are eye catching. I don’t think I have heard of them before but I think I may add them to my list of someday plants.

  4. From Annie in Austin:

    I wonder if the Oxbloods are emerging over at Mayfield, then, too – that’s where I first saw them and fell into floral love.

    You’re right about the air feeling different, and the plants having that faith-in-fall attitude, but at midnight when I went out for the forgotten milk it was still 89 degrees! Maybe the plants are responding to less time standing in the relentless sun as the days grow shorter, rather than any change in the actual temperatures?

    Good point. At least we’re having less actual hours of blazing sunlight. However, as they’ve been reporting all week, August 2006 was the hottest ever on record with daily average temperatures at 88.8 degrees. We didn’t have a lot of record-breaking highs (like in 2000) but it was consistently 100 or above. — mss

  5. From r sorrell (Austin):

    You know what the first sign of fall is for me. The CRICKETS. (Now, if I had any Oxblood lilies, maybe that would be my indicator, but I’m not so fortunate.)

    Ah, but you are. As I promised when we met at Pam’s house, oxblood lilies to all Austin garden bloggers. Wait until we get a real rain and then I’ll have you, and Annie, and Pam over to see them and we’ll dig up some for everyone. — mss

  6. From max (California):

    The Pacific Bulb Society has a nice page on Rhodophiala, including the Texas form of R. bifida.

    Thanks, Max. I found their excellent site several years ago when I was trying to figure out how my supposedly sterile oxblood lilies set seed. However, since then they changed their URL and my links were outdated. I appreciate the update. — mss