We're still enjoying temperatures in the nineties each day, but the plants show signs that it is fall. One proof - the hummingbird garden has gone completely Red.
Tall white hardy Hibiscus, Shasta daisies and blue salvias dominate this area from May to September. I saw a few Texas Star Hibiscus flowers in summer along with the off-and-on red of the short-lived Hummingbird sage - probably Salvia coccinea. It blooms, sets seed, the original plant dies, and another pops up nearby.
The largest red-bloomer hasn't done much since last fall, but look what's happened to the Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans in the last few days:
Its flowers appear when the days and nights are close in length. This can happen in a mild spring when the plant is not frozen back, but is more usual in fall. Most salvias are useful in deer-resistent gardens, but not our deliciously-scented Pineapple Sage! We kept it in deck containers at our previous house.
The Chili pequin [Capsicum annuum, according to the Wildflower Center] still has lots of tiny peppers. Philo hasn't tried it yet, but one of the Divas told me her husband Warren pickles large quantities of the fiery little fruit each year.
Autumn wears a purple hat with her red dress in the photo above. 'Bat-faced' Cuphea llaevea has produced red/purple flowers since early summer.
A few purple berries remain uneaten by mockingbirds on the Callicarpa americana/Beautyberry below.
My attempts to make vines bloom in a crepe myrtle has had mixed results - no new Passionflowers to photograph, and the Hyacinth bean/Dolichos lab-lab is all pods now, dangling ten feet up in the tree.
One of the surest signs of autumn in my garden is the flowering of Barleria cristata, the Philippine Violet. Some sites say this is a native of India, not the Philippines, and not in the violet family, but belonging to Acanthus.The plant below started out as a 3-inch rooted cutting in March, and it's now about two-feet tall in partial shade. The flowering seems to be triggered by the shortening of the days as the Autumnal Equinox approaches.
Those of who garden in the Northern Hemisphere celebrated the autumnal equinox on September 23rd-- and now our blogs record and share what happens as fall arrives. It might mean cooler, shorter days, changing leaves and that slanting, autumn light.
In my mind the term autumnal equinox meant that the days and nights were of equal length, so it surprised me when Philo pointed out that here in Austin, our day & night actually became equal on the 27th, and our descent into winter didn't really begin until the 28th.
I'd already noticed the startling variation in the longest days of summer for the different places friends and family lived - just one of those things that color our individual relationship with our spot on the globe. Philo used Naval Observatory tables to chart a few US cities for me, arranged by latitude, North to South, so we can see how things change as you move toward the equator. He adjusted to Daylight time for summer and this data is for 2007.
This may be the point where you jump ship, but I enjoy mildly geeky statistics and bet some of you do, too:
The days and nights in Anchorage, Alaska reached equal length on September 25th. Seattle, Washington also had equal days and nights on September 25th.
San Francisco, California took another day to even up its days and nights as did
Chicago, Illinois - both had equal days and nights on the 26th.
Austin, Texas and Miami, Florida waited until September 27th.
Kona, Hawaii was a day later than the others, on the 28th.
That's pretty interesting, but this is the part that really gets me - day length variation:
In Anchorage [latitude N61º 13'] on the shortest day in winter, the sun rises at 10:14 AM and sets at 3:41 PM. On the longest day in summer, the sun rises at 4:20 in the morning, and stays up until 11:42 PM - so the difference in the shortest day and longest day is a whopping 13 hours and 55 minutes.
Seattle [latitude N47º 38'] sees sunrise on the shortest day of winter at 7:55 AM, with sunset at 4:20 in the afternoon; go to the opposite season and the sun rises at 5:11 in the morning, setting at 9:11 at night... what a nice long day for gardening, and the glow at twilight makes it seem even longer. Seattle has a difference of 7 hours 35 minutes between the longest and shortest days.
Chicago [latitude N41º 51'] has a 6 hour, 6 minute variation from longest to shortest days, with winter sunrise at 7:15 AM, winter sunset 4:23 PM, summer sunrise 5:16 AM, summer sunset 8:30 PM.
San Francisco [latitude N37º 46'] comes next, with a 5 hour, 14 minute variation from summer to winter; the sun rises at the winter solstice at 7:21 AM, sets at 4:54 PM. The sun rises on the longest day at 5:48 AM and sets at 8:35 PM that evening.
Day length in Austin [latitude N30º 17'] varies only 3 hours and 54 minutes from shortest day of winter to longest day of summer. Our winter sun rises at 7:23 in the morning, setting at 5:35 that night, not so bad for school buses. At the summer solstice, the sun rises at 6:29 AM, setting at 8:36.
Miami [latitude N25º 47'] daylength varies even less - only 3 hours and 13 minutes separate longest and shortest days. The sun comes up at 7:03 AM in winter, setting at 5:35 PM on the winter solstice. In summer the sun appears only a half-hour earlier, rising at 6:30 AM and setting at 8:15 PM.
If you're in the city of Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, [latitude N21º 19'] there isn't a lot of difference in winter and summer: only 2 hours and 36 minutes. This part of Hawaii has sunrise on the shortest day at 7: 04 AM, and the sun sets at 5:55 PM. The sun will rise only a quarter of an hour earlier on the longest day, at 6:50 AM, and the residents will get the extra 2+ hours at the end of their longest day - with sunset at 8:16 PM.
While these numbers were interesting in themselves, since we read blogs by people who garden in different places we might think about how day length affects humans and their gardens.
Back in Illinois the crows started cawing as the sun began to glow - waking us at 5 in the morning. Northern friends could rise early and fit in an hour on a vegetable plot before dressing for work. When we moved to Austin it was a surprise when it was still quite dark at 6 AM in midsummer, and we were often awake before the birds made a sound. [It was also a surprise to see Turkey vultures rather than crows!]
The people in the North get earlier frosts and shorter summers, but they also get used to having many more hours of daylight during the summer. Kona, Hawaii may miss out on the pleasant glow of long summer evenings, but those folks won't need headlights at 4 PM in December.
Do you think the variation in your shortest and longest daylength affects you?
2016 – APRIL ANNIE’S GARDEN DAY
1 week ago