Oxblood lilies popping up after Hurricane Harvey


Hurricane Harvey dumped nearly 10 inches of rain on my garden between last Friday and Sunday, and high winds littered the ground with leaves, twigs, and ball moss. A Texas mountain laurel fell over in the sodden soil, and we lost power for 6 hours. A weather event, but nothing compared to the walloping that Houston, our neighbor to the southeast, is still enduring. My thoughts have been with friends and family there, some of whom narrowly escaped having floodwater in their homes.

The first fall rains usually come in September and coax oxblood lilies and hurricane lilies out of the ground, to bloom in a sudden dash of red. Although the rains came early this year, sure enough the first oxblood lily opened yesterday, springing out of the sedge lawn just 24 hours after the rain stopped.


This is a stray that remained in the front garden after I dug the rest out and moved them to the back. Deer enjoyed snacking on them, you see. This one will probably be a munched stem the next time I look.


But others are popping up in the back garden, and I look forward to the big show.


Here’s the Texas mountain laurel that toppled over after the storm, one of several fallen mountain laurels I saw around town. The drought-tolerant, smaller trees like this one seem most dismayed by the heavy rains. My son helped me stake it yesterday, and I hope it’ll recover its balance. The inland sea oats at its feet are dressed for fall, their tan oats dangling like fish on a line.


The waterlilies don’t mind the rain, of course.


Peachy pink ‘Colorado’ is always blooming.


I found this dead cicada on a waterlily pad in the pond, perhaps a casualty of the storm. It’s been a big year for cicadas in Austin.


Very much alive and enjoying dinner was this argiope spider in the front garden. I’ve seen a number of these this summer, although some have disappeared, leaving behind torn webs — victims, perhaps, of bigger and hungrier creatures. Such is the circle of life.


Before the rains, I was enjoying a nightly show of datura blossoms.


On a recent night there were at least 25 white trumpets glowing by moonlight.


Beautiful and fragrant


I was away on a road trip from early to mid-August. Right before I left I took a few photos that I didn’t have time to post, so here they are, better late than never. This is a collection of sun-loving cacti and succulents on my deck. The galvanized potting table from Target goes well with the galvanized cattle panel railing on the new deck. On the bottom shelf, shaded somewhat from the Death Star’s high-beam, are my Moby spawn, aka pups from my dearly departed whale’s tongue agave. They’ve grown quite a bit this summer.


I wait all summer to see my pond crinum bloom, and I nearly missed it — but not quite! It started blooming the day before we left, and I enjoyed it for 24 hours and then came home to a wilted flower stalk lying in the water.


And in the side garden that I don’t visit every day, a ‘Purple Pillar’ rose of Sharon, a trial plant from Proven Winners, was putting on a good show too. Maybe the Harvey rains will encourage a rebloom.

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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

The Austin Cactus & Succulent Society hosts its Fall Show and Sale on September 2 & 3, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, at Zilker Botanical Garden (2220 Barton Springs Road). Come see rare and beautiful cacti and succulents and shop for plants and handcrafted pottery. Admission is free with paid entry to Zilker Botanical Garden ($2 adults, $1 children and seniors).

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14 Responses

  1. Susie says:

    Pam, glad you fared relatively well during the storm. The scenes from flooding are tragic. The oxblood lily seems especially welcome I would imagine. I had a couple of spider lilies (hurricane lilies) open this year for the first time since I planted them 3 years ago. Great surprise.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Those hurricane (spider) lilies are well named, aren’t they? And they are persnickety about blooming only after they’ve been in the ground a while, so I’m not surprised to hear it took them three years. I’m still waiting for mine this year. —Pam

  2. WOW, 10″ of rain is amazing. The most we have had here at one time ever was 6″. The oxblood lily is really pretty. I like the unusual bloom of the Pond Crinum, glad you got to see it before it dropped. I love the first picture of the datura. Those blooms are so gorgeous I wish they would bloom all day too. I hope you are dried out now.

  3. Susan says:

    Was so glad to hear that the rains hadn’t done in your garden. I am east of Dallas and have lost many dry loving plants over the past 2 years of more rain in this area. I hope we all continue to pray for those affected by Harvey. They will need our help long after the water has receded.

  4. Kris P says:

    Ten inches of rain in one fell shot is almost unimaginable for me, and the deluge impacting Houston and the surrounding area is tragic. I’m glad you weren’t seriously affected by Harvey. I was concerned but I figured that the appearance of regular posts signified that you were safe. I love your oxblood lilies. Amazingly, my rain lilies (Zephyranthus) bloomed last week even though we haven’t had a drop of rain since April and none is expected for at least the next 60 days.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Ten inches is a big deal here too, although we do tend to get deluges when it rains. Deluges plus hills equals our region’s nickname of Flash Flood Alley. Luckily, except for the usual low-water crossings, Austin didn’t experience widespread flooding this time.

      It’s funny that your rain lilies suddenly decided to bloom, even with no rain. I guess they got tired of waiting. —Pam

  5. Rebecca says:

    Glad to hear your garden made it through the rain okay! We had oxblood lollies at our old house, but have gotten any for this garden. I asked for Christmas last year, but alas, they didn’t make it into my stocking.

  6. Glad you escaped the brunt of the storm. We’re debating a big commercial stainless table as a potting bench. Love the look of yours. Rebooting fixed my FB problem.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I like the one from Target, and the price was right. The only downside is the top needs a little more support in the middle, and it tends to sag under the weight of the pots. Not a big deal until it rains and water collects under my dry-loving plants. I usually blow it off or tip the table an inch or so to get rid of the water. During Harvey, I took these plants into the garage to keep them dry. —Pam

  7. To think I’m impressed with .50″ of rain, especially 2″ in 24 hours. Those datura(s) look heavenly, and other than the headaches I got with them 20+ years ago with some planted under my bedroom windows (open at night), they were worth the trouble of removing all the volunteers!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      The rain was impressive but thankfully not destructive. As for the datura, I’ve heard that their fragrance can cause headaches in close quarters. I bet you had some weird dreams! —Pam

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