Fall in Austin, Texas

When rains break the summer drought, fall is here. Don't look at the thermometer; it will still register in the 90s. A high of 92, which seemed so hot in May, will feel deliciously cool.

Early Fall: Hurricane Rains

photo: rhodophiala bifida

The sudden appearance of the oxblood lilies signal that we've survived another summer and that it is time to be busy again in the garden. Vitality flows again through the garden and the gardener. Self-sown overwintering annuals such as bluebonnets, sweetpeas, and Love-in-a-Mist sprout, as do weeds, especially beggar's tick. Roses set out new leaves and shoots. Lantana and other flowering shrubs, such as 'Yellow Bells', crape myrtle, and ruellia, reawaken from their late summer torpor and bloom as they are meant to bloom. The grass turns green again and wants mowing.

Isn't this the feeling in Northern gardens when the first crocus blooms? knowing they are poised on the cusp of spring, sensing liberation from a cold a dark winter of inactivity, the promise of light and warmth, the first stirrings of life. In the South, we lift our faces to the rain, grateful to have survived the dead heat of summer.

Mid-Fall: First Norther

When the first norther drops temperatures into the 40s, we enter the second phase of Fall. The skies are a deep clear blue and the humidity drops. By now most of the plants have recovered from summer and the garden tidied of what didn't make it.

These are the most pleasant days in the Austin garden. They are also the busiest. Now is the best time to plant trees and shrubs (including roses). This gives the plants time to develop the healthy root systems they need to survive next summer.