September 16th, 2004
Week 37: 9/10 – 9/16

photo: oxblood lily
Oxblood lilies, the soul of Zanthan Gardens. 2004-09-16. Austin, Texas.

Dateline: 2004
If fall is the South’s spring, then oxblood lilies are our daffodils.

About three inches of rain which fell the other day have brought out the oxblood lilies en masse. A few had bloomed earlier when I watered the lawn near them. But those were just teasers. The garlic chives have been blooming since August 12. The hyacinth bean vines are flowering. I think they do best in the fall. The sago palm is putting out new fronds. I’m relieved since this is the first time since I transplanted it into the garden. Mostly I’m working inside the house right now, and just admiring the garden from within.

It’s in the 90s and muggy again this week after some cool dry weather last week. So it doesn’t feel like fall anymore. But we really needed the rain in the city. The last few storm systems to the northwest (which dumped 10 inches around Marble Falls) didn’t bring us any rain.

Dateline: 2003
My notes for this year are almost the same as last, except that the four o’clocks are all grown up now and have put out a new, vigorous flush of flowers crowding out everything else for a square yard or so.

photo: oxblood lily
Oxblood lilies. 2003-09-17. Austin, Texas.

Dateline: 2002
Fall does not announce itself here in a blaze of colored foliage and falling leaves, but with rejuvenating rains. Last week the oxblood lilies responded by blooming en masse. They have never been more beautiful. Imagine the yellow daffodils covering the fells in the Lake District; then, adjust the hue so that the yellow becomes a deep brilliant red. The blooms last only two or three days, the moment made precious by its transience.

That’s just to get our attention. The days that follow are cooler (highs only in the 80s) and their light more golden. Summer’s survivors shake themselves out of their heat-induced lethargy. The squirrels go crazy stealing pecans and digging holes in the lawn and flower beds to stash their treasures. The roses begin blooming again. The chili and tomato plants start producing new flowers and setting fruit. Bluebonnets are sprouting.

The Pandorea ricasoliana finally bloomed. The Datura inoxia is covered with new white blossoms. The 4 o-clocks will flower for the first time tomorrow. I’m dividing irises and cleaning up potted plants. And, last week I began work on a new garden–a little courtyard garden to make the entryway off the driveway more pleasant.

by M Sinclair Stevens

2 Responses to post “Week 37: 9/10 – 9/16”

  1. From Margaret (UK):

    I really enjoy reading about the progress of the garden in Austin. Living in an area of North western U.K. with too much rain and heavy clay soil, I sometimes envy you your sunshine. Datura grown here can only survive iindoors – a conservatory?sunroom is good – but oxblood lilies I have never seen. The Lakeland daffodils in Spring time are old friends. I look forward to your next update.

  2. From M2 (Austin):

    I was surprised to see that my own oxblood lilies bloomed. I’d planted them beside the walk to my front door, where I thought I’d never miss them, but instead I tend to drive directly into the garage and enter from the interior door.

    They do not mind the neglect and just carry on with their task of welcoming autumn. The vibrant red, combined with their habit of facing directly out — not upward much at all — make them look very serious about what they do. Not “girly” flowers, these oxblood lilies, not one bit.

    Of course, mine are a gift from a friend, so I would be unhappy to miss their tour of duty.