Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blooms from Autumn Rains

So we finally got a good, long, soaking wet. We've apparently received in the vicinity of 4 inches over the past two weeks. And when it hasn't rained, it's been overcast, which is wonderful too--highs in the 80s! I think it may really be Autumn (thank heaven!).

And suddenly, there are interesting plants all over the place. Pecans, it seems, are not the only ones to thrive on adversity.

Oxblood Fest
The most wonderful are the oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida). Most of the oxbloods in my yard bloomed a week or two ago, presumably in response to the new watering system. But feral oxbloods around town seem to have been waiting for a proper rain, and now that they've got it, they're blooming with breathtaking ferocity. This is the best display I've seen since moving to Elgin. Actually, I think it's the best year for oxbloods that I've ever witnessed. I'm guessing it required the drought to retard the blooms and then a really good, long soak to make them all pop out at once.

The funny thing about oxbloods is that they are so long-lived and so retiring when not in bloom that people tend to forget they're there. So long after houses, flower beds, and walkways have been knocked down or moved, the oxbloods remain, faithfully marking those old features. And since most the houses in Elgin are old, you see a lot of oxbloods around, often rather haphazardly sprinkled around properties that were once very differently configured.

Older Elgin homes with scatterings of oxblood lilies
Mr. M's Oxbloods
One of the most impressive displays of oxbloods in Elgin (perhaps the second most impressive--the very best is on the eastern leg of Main Street, very near that yummy taco shack I mentioned a few posts back) is in our next door neighbor's yard. And they ought to be, I suppose; he's 90 years old. He's had time to let them grow and multiply.

Look at that lovely smear of scarlet. You'd think they were Dutch tulips, wouldn't you? I still think oxbloods should be planted in puddles and banks, not in straight lines, but for sheer volume and intensity of color, this is pretty impressive.

Mr. M's oxbloods

Look at that jubilant red!

Oxblood closeup

Mr. M's oxbloods (again)

Copper Lilies
For some reason, it is also a particularly good year for copper lilies (Habranthus tubispathus var. texensis), an orangy-gold rain lily. In our yard, we've have a number pop up all individually in the middle of the lawn, but other people have great drifts of them, like these folks below.

A drift of copper lilies

For a good closeup, check out this pic at Bayou City Heirloom Bulbs. They're shy, modest little flowers, but with very interesting coloring.

Or here's wikipedia's pic of a solitary specimen:*

Wikipedia's copper lily

And here's a nice little bank of them right opposite Meyer's BBQ.

Copper lilies on Hwy 290

Other Blooms
We've had some other very nice blooms in our yard lately. Here's another picture of that passionflower that I find so entrancing. I think it pairs very nicely with the deep pink of the "Maggie" rose, don't you?

'Dark Purple' passionflower and "Maggie" rose

And 'Buff Beauty' is blooming and growing all over the place. Finally. After two years of sulks. I do love these colors, though, so the wait was worth it.

'Buff Beauty'

*Come to think of it, I actually originally wrote that article on copper lilies in wikipedia. For some reason, the whole rain lily group was sadly underrepresented. But someone else supplied the image

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I have some of those oxbloods coming up in the flower bed off the back porch. I thought I had transfered some of the spider lily that mysteriously came up last year in a hanging pot.


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