Spring in Austin is a curious thing with the temperatures, moisture levels and humidity constantly in flux, but all the cacti and perennials are going wild with blooms of every color and size. Some of the sweetest flowers have been blooming in my own neighborhood, so I set out to get to know them.
Coral Yucca from my front garden blooms for months at a time. I love the way the pyramidal blossoms wind up the stalk and come alive one at a time. The seed pods are like little space ships packed with hard black seeds. Eventually they’ll dry out and open up, spilling the seeds in the wind.
White Honeysuckle can be found all along the Greenbelt and near freshwater sources. The delicious scent of sweet citrus precedes these tiny blossoms a mile away.
Nandina Heavenly Bamboo is a sneaky invasive species from the East that isn’t a true bamboo, but is in fact a shrub. I spotted this one on the trail and marvelled at its combination of red berry and white bud, and the spiral nature of the branches and fruits. The old adage runs true – “red berries be wary!” – this Nandina is toxic to humans and animals.
Prickly Pear aka Optunia aka Indian Fig aka Nopales aka Paddle Cactus (wow!) blooms also in a deep magenta color, but I’ve seen only this lemon yellow blossom in Austin. Each flower closes in the evening and reopens in the morning and smells subtly of bitter orange.
Cosmos I had to add the Cosmos, the only wildflower that I’m currently growing in my vegetable garden. These wispy-ferny flowers are the first I’ve successfully grown from seed since moving to Texas almost two years ago, and they just won’t quit! Cosmos are an herbaceous perennial, so even after the stem dies pieces of the plant live on in the soil and propagates the next season. They just keep coming up, flowering, and expanding across the garden, which makes me so happy.