Spring in Austin, Texas

Early Spring

photo: Mexican Plum

An Austin spring begins when the redbud blooms, generally around Valentine's Day and ends when the larkspur has faded, toward the end of April. Depending on the winter rains, bluebonnets can bloom throughout these three months. The earliest bluebonnet I've ever seen was on February 5th. But they are reliably in force by Spring Break in mid-March.

More than any other season, spring brings heartbreak with its joys. We have balmy days in the 80s, even in January, which entice gardeners and plants alike into premature action. We can't wait. We set out summer annuals. We start our tomatoes. Peach buds swell. Then, a killing frost on St Patrick's Day sets us back.

Or you pamper a rose, pruning it in January, watching it in February as the buds stock swells, checking it daily, twice daily, for hints of the first bloom. The day comes when the sepals fall back, the first little rosebud opens at dawn, is full at noon, and in the sudden 98 degree heat in March, wilts and fades by 3PM.

In the spring, I cut all the flowers I want to enjoy for more than one day and bring them inside, sheltered from the sun and the bugs.

Mid Spring

The cedar elms leaf out in brilliant chartreuse and sheets of bluebonnets cover the slopes along the Mopac. After waiting and waiting for something to happen in the garden, it seems to happen all at once. But gardeners are much too busy to sit back and notice. Our last frost date is behind us and it's time to get serious about the summer vegetable garden.

Late Spring

Bluebonnets fade unnoticed as the larkspur, irises, roses, and nigella burst into bloom.