Thank you, Mother Nature for making your presence known here in South Central Texas with some beautiful fall sights. We may not have breathtaking views of autumn leaves, but for those of us fortunate enough to live close to the land, fall is all around us.
Schoolhouse Lilies may have earned their name by returning each fall to the sites of former schoolyards and long abandoned home sites. Also called Oxblood Lilies, they are truly a gardener’s friend. Once these hardy heirloom perennial bulbs take root, they need no special care.
In fact, I forget where I’ve planted clumps in the yard because when the foliage dies back, they are hidden. What a delight it is in late September to look out and see their radiant faces once more.
Resembling tiny amaryllis, Schoolhouse Lilies naturalize. When bulbs appear to elbow their way above the soil, it’s time to pick them up and replant them in a new location. Better yet, I think I’ll pass some along to a friend.
When the persimmons on our tree turn golden, they are not yet ripe. However, they are worth watching because birds will be keeping an eye on them, too.
I’ve learned the hard way to pick my persimmons when they are still firm to the touch. Then I sit back and watch for their skins to sag. When they appear wizened, you might think they are rotting but far from it. That’s the stage when the skin tastes like crystalized sugar and a persimmon’s deep orange fruit is as sweet as nectar.
Be warned, however. Novices may attempt to eat a persimmon before it’s ripe at their own peril. Bitter, astringent and nasty are some of the negative reviews they’ve received.
Poor misunderstood persimmons!
Texas summers can be long and hot here, and the one we’ve just lived through was long, hot and very dry. Despite these challenges, we are rewarded with warm, rich light in the morning and evening in the fall.
Also, KR Bluestem Grass, like the hardy Schoolhouse Lilies, makes a command appearance. One day it’s nowhere to be seen and the next, it’s drifting back and forth in the breeze on the hillsides of our farm. We can count on this grasses’ faithful return despite the summer’s heat and drought.
In other parts of the U.S. and Canada, many farmers and ranchers are selling their calves in preparation for winter. However, we are just beginning to welcome our 2022 calf crop. With any luck, the little ones will be a good size by the time the first Northers begin dipping into our region. It’s always good to see them grow like crazy, thriving during our typically moderate winters.
This spider didn’t come from the $1 store wrapped in plastic. I found him this morning hard at work building a web on the outside of our bathroom window. He’s a big guy out there toiling away during the fall in Central Texas!
I don’t know where he’s been all summer, but Mr. Spider is another sign of fall. Before long, when I take my morning walks, I’ll be treated to delicate spider-crochet suspended on barbed wire fences along the way. That said, looking at Mr. Spider through the glass is as close as I care to get.
We’ve had more hummingbird visitors this year than ever before as they plotted their migration south for the winter. For a few weeks, dozens of the tiny birds guzzled four to six cups of sugar water a day from our red feeders. That was in addition to dining on the nectar from all the blooming plants in the yard.
However, Mother Nature must have blown the whistle around Sept. 22, the fall equinox, because the majority of our tiny guests flew away without saying goodbye. Several hummingbirds spent the entire summer here, so we are curious to see if they leave, too. Perhaps living at our place is so pleasant for these particular hummingbirds that they see no reason to migrate.
As long as they stay, I’ll faithfully replenish sugar water in at least one hummingbird feeder.
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These sights and thoughts comprise an overview of our South Central Texas fall spectacular! Thank you, Mother Nature. Now, readers, it’s your turn. What’s Mother Nature offering you these days?
More of my stories featuring Mother Nature’s inspiration:
- The Old Philosopher of New Dubina - March 10, 2023
- Farewell to the Farm - February 17, 2023
- Feeding Winston’s Cows in 1973 - January 20, 2023
Excellent observations. kind of a stop and smell the roses kinda thing…..
Yes, that’s a good way of describing the gentle arrival of fall around here. I’ll put some Schoolhouse Lilies aside for you!
My favorite time of year!!
Yes, my hummers are leaving a little at a time. Now if the sticker burrs would do the same I would be so happy!
Happy Fall Y’all!!!
Observing hummingbirds is fascinating! I can’t imagine a living thing that small that has the tenacity to migrate. As for your sticker burrs, there are so many weeds flourishing in these drought conditions that it makes me shake my head. Talk about tough!
Here in B.C.’s lower mainland, some hummingbirds stay all year round. You just have to be careful to keep changing the water or put it in a heated feeder on those rare occasions when the temperature does drop below freezing!
Fall here means foggy mornings and, most years, the beginning of the rainy season. This year’s been unusually dry, which also means the wildfire season isn’t over yet as it would be most years.
Nancy, thanks for giving us a glimpse of fall in your neighborhood. If you offer hummingbirds a heated feeder when they need it most, you must be very, very high on the list of ‘best places for hummingbirds to live.’ Your dry conditions resonate with us in Central Texas. It has been a grueling summer with extreme heat and little rain. Strangely enough, the showers that have fallen seemed to slip into a pattern and return to the same places. Let’s hope for moisture all over, although no hurricanes are needed to deliver it.
Thank you for sharing your farm scenes, Elaine. I’ve seen clumps of the schoolhouse lilies in our COLUMBUS neighborhood- they ARE striking! What an exciting surprise when they appear again!
Glad you enjoyed the tour, Betsy. Don’t you love plants that take care of themselves? They are like forever-friends! BTW, welcome home.
As always, your story kept me reading and reminiscing to the end. We fed loads of hummers here and keep one feeder going all year. Hope all is well with you and yours.
Emil is convinced that hummingbirds have a communication system to let others know where there’s ample food, comparable to the hobos we heard about marking the back fences of houses where they could count on a handout in the 1930s. If that’s the case, you and David are high up on the ‘preferred’ list! Thank you for writing!
I did so enjoy your welcome to fall, my favorite season also. I would be delighted to have a few of your schoolhouse bulbs if you find you have a surplus. We haven’t had many signs of fall yet. After our first cool spell my red oaks will turn a beautiful red. I can’t wait.
How nice to have a red oak whose leaves will change color. We’ve tried a couple of trees that had fall color but had no luck with them. We have pampered a little peach tree that we planted in January and are hopeful it will make it. It has been a tough year on all plants in the landscape. I will be happy to share some Schoolhouse Lilies with you!
After our summer heat with little rain, I am welcoming the beginning of fall! I loved looking at your pictures and reading your descriptions, Elaine.
Thanks, Denise. Yes, the beginning of fall feels wonderful. Now for some of that rain – slow, drenching rain. No high water covering your bridge, though!
Loved your piece, Elaine, as always. Fall is wonderful. I’ll trade you some of my spider lilies for some schoolhouse lilies. Mine came originally from my mom’s house in Encino, Texas.
Thanks, Chris. I’d love some spider lilies that originated in Encino. Talk about a story! I’ll email you.