Every September, I’m surprised–and unsurprised–at the overnight emergence of the clusters of Oxblood lily, Rhodophiala bifida, in my gardens.
The September surprise begins with the fleshy stems, which push through newly rained upon soil and which I observe if I’m actually looking for them. But it’s usually the riot of red atop those stems that catches my attention. And how could I miss that scream of scarlet?
These shockingly crimson blooms emerge at the end of our long summers and after the first fall rains. Not native to Texas, these beauties originated in various parts of South America. Oxbloods were brought to Texas by an early Texas botanist, Peter Oberwetter and have naturalized throughout much of the state, gracing lawns, natural areas, and gardens–including my own. The blooms sit only about 12 inches from the ground and last a week or so. Often, though not this year, my various groups pop up and bloom at different times, extending the bloom period to as much as a month. This year, they’ve all burst open at once. Once the blooms are done, slender, striped foliage emerges and remains evergreen throughout winter, disappearing sometime in late spring. The Oxblood lily bulbs hunker down for the hot summer. Smart bulbs!
The strappy leaves you see accompanying the blooms in the photos belong to another plant, the native Texas craglily, Echeandia texensis, which are revving up their autumn blooming, too.
As I sat on the ground to get these shots, several metallic sweat bees buzzed around the blooms, but I couldn’t get more than a smear of bee in any of the photos, so I settled for pure flowers. It’s affirming to see the pollinators active and attracted to these blooms. A little ways from where I sat, a hummingbird worked a different set of red flowers and I’ll bet that after I left the scene, Ms. Hummer came by for a sip.
Surprises in the garden really aren’t surprises, are they? We know the garden is dynamic, we know there’s always something new, something evolving, something different. We just need to pay attention to the somethings.
For more surprises–or not–check out Anna’s Flutter and Hum and Wednesday’s Vignette!