Los Fresnos News

Spring Into Fall

Norma Cruz , Cameron County Master Gardener & Friends of Los Fresnos Nature Park

Norma Cruz

Cool weather, comfy blankets, pumpkin-spiced lattes, and a good book are usually on my mind at this time of year, but one other thing is as well, spring.

Spring? Really? Yes, there are a number of things you can do in the fall to make your spring gardens beautiful. With the cooler temperatures arriving this season, it’s much more enjoyable to work on your garden for a delightful look now and an even better one in the spring. Audrey Hepburn quoted, “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” so let’s plan today for a garden you’ll love in the spring.

One sure sign of spring is the sight of colorful flowering bulbs. Bulbs are shortened, compressed, underground stems surrounded by fleshy scales (leaves) that envelop a central bud at the tip of the stem. (Texas Master Gardener Handbook, pg. 34-35) Many bulbs must be exposed to low temperatures for a period before they begin to send up the new plant. Therefore, you need to choose bulbs that are best used in our area. Since our winters are rather warm and mild, we need to choose bulbs that originate from warmer climates and do not require much if any cooling. There are a number of bulbs to choose from – early, mid, and late season bulbs. This will provide a succession of blooms to enjoy in your garden.

The optimum time to plant is October 1 st through December 31 st . Many garden stores and nurseries sell bulbs for all types of gardens – full sun, shade, butterfly and hummingbird, xeriscape, containers, and more. Be sure to plan accordingly to make sure you purchase the correct bulbs for your garden to burst with color.

Some varieties known to do well in our area are:

  • Anemones,
  • Narcissus family,
  • Amaryllis
  • Lilies.

Viewing wildflowers on the sides of Texas highways is a sight to see…more like a sea of flowers. We can thank Lady Bird Johnson for popularizing these picturesque scenes on our travels through Texas. However, it is not only for the highways because you can have your own wildflower garden at home too.
You don’t need a large area to create one, just a little corner or stretch of land on your property. Fall is a great time to plant wildflower seeds to enjoy an abundance of colors in the spring because wildflowers are cool-weather plants that germinate when temperatures drop below 70 degrees. According to “Texas Highways” magazine article, “Wildflower Growing 101,” Daniel Blue Tyx states, “most Texas gardeners should plant around September or October although those in tropical South Texas might wait until November or December.” Therefore, we have plenty of time this fall to create our own wildflower garden.
As with all gardening projects, do your research for best results, but following these steps will help you get a great start.

  1. Prepare the ground for your wildflower garden by clearing the area of grass and weeds.
  2. Buy native seeds from reputable sources, mix them with sand or potting soil for even distribution. Scatter the mixture on top of the soil to make good contact and walking across the patch will help press the seeds into the soil.
  3. Give the area a good soaking and keep it moist for germination to occur. That’s when the magic begins.
  4. Ask the experts for information – local nurseries, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, wildseedfarms.com and seedsource.com
    Some of the best wildflower species are Indian Blanket, Purple Coneflower, Golden Eye Daisy, Phlox varieties, Arroyo Lupine, Black Eyed Susan, Wild Cosmos, and many more. Not only will you benefit the beauty of colors and fragrances of your wildflower garden, but it will become a pollinator paradise for birds, butterflies, and bees filling your garden with a buzz of activity.
    Join the Los Fresnos Nature Park Facebook page to see updates of our wildflower garden which we will begin to work on in the upcoming weeks. You can always come volunteer on Saturday mornings from 7:30-10:00 and learn as you work with us.
    Therefore, plan, work, and enjoy this fall season. Plan your spring gardens with a little bit of work and enjoy what is and what will be. Enjoy your pumpkin-spiced lattes while reading your favorite book under the warmth of a comfy blanket, knowing your garden is already preparing for a grand performance in springtime. I know I will.