Explosion of oxblood lilies and datura

September 07, 2022

I’ve made the transition from the Texas heat of the past week to the dry, cool, high-desert climate of Santa Fe. It was a great trip, but the whole time I was away I was bummed that I was missing one of my late summer favorites at home: the eruption of oxblood lilies that pop up practically overnight after a late summer rain. As soon as we got back I rushed out and saw dozens of flaming red trumpets in the soapy water. Perfect timing!

oxblood lily (Rhodophiala bifida) is an Argentine bulb that thrives in Austin’s warm, humid subtropical climate. It lies dormant all summer until the days get shorter and a triggering rain comes and then boom – They have.

Like Texas bluebonnets, they are small in size but pack a punch when massed together.

You can increase your number of bulbs by digging them up and dividing them in late fall or winter, after they have flowered but before the green leaves (which later sprout) have disappeared. However, I never think of sharing mine. They are now growing under the thorny aloe arms, so that discourages me too. They don’t think so. Trumpets have been blowing for years. I am glad to see them, these heralds of fall.

Datura also responds to the rain with its giant white trumpet, which wafts a sweet fragrance through the garden at night.

After exploring Georgia O’Keefe’s country in New Mexico, her paintings of datura reconnected me to that majestic landscape. I have pictures for you soon.

For now I’m luxuriating — like the garden — in summer’s gradual regret. It ain’t over till it’s over. But it’s a start.

The hummingbirds that visit my garden every day must appreciate the grace of the reawakened flowers. We made it through.

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All material © 2022 by Pam Penick for Excavation. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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