The First Sign of Autumn

It’s the first week in September and still hitting the upper 90s every day.  There may be a “not so hot” front coming this weekend, but we have a good bit of summer left on the Texas Gulf Coast.

But autumn is coming.  Really.  This morning the first hurricane lily opened in my front yard.

I’m not much of a botanist, or even a gardener.  I mow the lawn, prune a few low hanging branches, do a little weeding, but I don’t grow flowers, not on purpose anyway. For many years I knew these flowers by the name my gardener neighbor calls them, naked ladies, because they pop up and bloom on bare stalks, with the folliage coming up later.  Then a year or two ago I saw an article in the Houston Chronicle identifying them as hurricane lilies.  That makes sense.  They reach their peak around the middle of September, as does the hurricane season here on the Gulf Coast.

Last year was extremely dry, and the lilies, which grow in a wide strip across my front yard near the street, put up a rather meager display.  This year we had a decent amount of rain through the late spring and summer, so I’m hoping they’ll do better.  There have been years when they were so thick that people stopped to take pictures, and others when they barely appeared.  Hurricane Rita blew them down a few years ago, even though she made landfall well to the east of Houston.  Hurricane Ike came right up Galveston Bay and smashed the flowers flat.

The hurricane lilies are survivors.  Their bulbs were in the yard when we moved into this house in 1976.  I have no idea how bulbs propagate, whether the flower I photographed this morning sprang from a forty-year-old bulb or a seventeenth-generation descendant.  They’re not buried very deeply, and I’ve never done a thing to them–except run my lawn mower over them.  Yet year after year they reappear, splashing my yard with red every September.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere, but I’m not going to look for it.   For the next couple of weeks, I’m just going to go out in the morning and admire the flowers.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer Stuart
    Sep 06, 2012 @ 22:20:04

    They are quite beautiful! I do want to visit the Galveston area someday. I just moved to Austin..I wonder if any of the lillies will bloom up here? I’ll keep an eye on people’s yards! 🙂

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  2. Lark Howard
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 11:06:42

    I’ll trust you on the autumn declaration, Kay, but I’m still wearing white jeans and sandals.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Sep 07, 2012 @ 11:21:06

      I have white jeans and sneakers on today myself, Lark. Jack used to say he could feel the change to autumn in the air and see it in the sky, but I haven’t noticed those yet. I’m definitely turning my porch light on a little earlier every evening.

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