It's the first day of autumn and we made it through a particularly brutal summer here in San Antonio, so time to look for seasonal changes in the plants. The traditional fall colors so common in northern climates are rare in South Texas. After a few days of rain a "cold front" blew in and dropped our daytime highs all the way down to 91F/33C. I've been outside several hours each day planting and transplanting to take advantage of the beautiful weather. While we do have a few pockets of maples and a several other plants which will change color this season, our weather typically remains quite warm right up until the calendar says winter.
That doesn't mean we don't have our own signs of fall.
One sign is the ripening of the Tunas or prickly pear fruit of the Opuntia cactus. In the arroyo across the creek behind the house these are bright red.
These opuntia fruits are turning purple just on the edge of the back yard.
A few weeks ago these same fruits were more red while the opuntia fruits in the arroyo are still quite red.
These pale fruits are from a bright orange bloom which is less common than the more typical yellow blooms.
Since they are different colors when ripe the best way to know is to wait until the
fruits begin to drop before picking. The fruits are edible after the tiny spine bunches are removed and produce a tasty jelly or I might pick a few for margaritas
this year if I can get to them before the wildlife does.
Time to dust off the table on the deck because we'll be using it a lot more until next June. It's what we call the payoff and, having lived everywhere from Southern California to New England, we think it's worth it.