Bluebonnet Bonanza

Because the Bluebonnet season is so short, any time a Texan sees a field of them, it’s an obligation to stop.  Usually, it’s necessary to turn around and find a safe place to park on the side of the highway.

This season is the time to beware of red tail lights in front of you because natives and tourists alike will come to a screeking halt and hop out for photographs.

As we were returning home yesterday from College Station, it was raining and the temperature dropping.  But I couldn’t resist tromping around in the mud to get a few shots.

There are actually four different varieties of Bluebonnets, but the Lupinus texensis is the one seen most often.  Dramatic sweeps in fields along the roadsides of Central Texas make an impressive sight.

A few Indian Paintbrushes were scattered around.  There are also several varieties of Castilleja.  Some have deeper color.  I don’t know which one this is.

Bastard Cabbage is an invasive that ranchers hate in their fields.  But the yellow made a nice contrast to the blue.

Bluebonnets like rocky, uncultivated soil and need good drainage.  That’s why they’re often seen like water flowing down a hillside.

The foliage of Bluebonnets show up nicely here.  Just as the winter is ending, these distinctive little leaves lie close to the ground before it’s bloom time.

The wind was whipping around chilling me to the bone.  Even close to the ground, it was pushing these Pink Primroses (Oenothera speciosa) sideways.

The wind blurred this, but it’s the only one near me where the inside of the flower was open.

Prairie Verbenas (Glandularia bipinnatifida) are also blooming.  They will last a long time, until late fall.  Loved by many because they survive the hot, dry summers.

A wet, misty day, but lovely.

“Life’s like bluebonnets in the spring.  We’re only here for a little while.  It’s beautiful and bitter sweet.”  Aaron Watson

Hill Country in Bloom

Springtime lures us to the open road.  There are several worthwhile drives where wildflowers are plentiful.  Central Texas Driving Routes is a good site to check out.

hwy16cHighway 16 both north and south of Llano is stunning with miles and miles of Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) and Indian Paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa).  The large sweeps of color takes one’s breath away.

hwy16bThe only disappointment was that there are very few places to pull over because the shoulders of the road are very narrow.

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hwy16fThe entrance to this old cemetery had a nice wide open area to park.  The name of the cemetery is a little disconcerting, but surely ‘Head’ is a family name.

hwy16gMore flowers inside the cemetery.

hwy16hPretty little flowers that I think are Vinca Majors.

hwy16iA Wine Cup (Callirhoe involucrata) flutters in the chilly wind.  These flowers close each evening and remain permanently shut after pollination. The heat of summer causes the entire plant to die back.  This hardy Texas native will return in the spring and sometimes again in the fall.  It prefers full sun in either gravelly or sandy soils.

hwy16jWhile I was taking photos of the wildflowers, my husband walked around reading headstones.

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hwy16lButtercups are in the large family of Ranunculus.  They usually bloom in April and May, but they may bloom all summer when conditions are right.

hwy16mThe light faded out the colors of the Indian Paintbrushes.

hwy16aThe drive is all about the stunning displays of wildflowers.  There are other places of interest, but we only took time for lunch and viewing the flowers.

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” Steve Jobs

They’re Back

It’s that time when wildflowers start to pop up along the roadsides. Texans’ pride puff up.  What a joyous sight.

springwildflowersNothing says Texas wildflower like the native Bluebonnets.  Five species of Lupinus grow in Texas, and all have been designated as the state flower. The most common species is Lupinus texensis, the Texas bluebonnet, which starts flowering in mid-March.

springwildflowers3 As historian Jack Maguire so aptly wrote, “It’s not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat.  The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.”

springwildflowers1Another Texas native, Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) has not fully opened yet, but the pink among the Bluebonnets is iconic.

Further up the slope is the lavender colored Prairie Verbena.

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springwildflowers4Then, there are the many varieties of yellow flowers that cover the fields and bar ditches.  A reader suggests that these are Four Nerve Daisies

springwildflowers7Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) is a compact small plant that grows in hard soil.
springwildflowers8It doesn’t need or want much water, or do well in flowerbeds that receive TLC.

springwildflowers9As I’ve stated before on this blog, I need a primer course on native yellow flowers of Texas.  They’ve everywhere.

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springwildflowerscI’ve heard this shrubby plant called Bee Bush.  But I’m not labeling it with any certainty.  It tends to grow along fence lines.

springwildflowers5Another mystery – the yellow flower covered fields in our area.  A group of us at Garden Club were discussing them.  No one knew their name.  Someone thought they might be a type of mustard, but someone else disagreed.

springwildflowers6The Midland-Odessa area in far West Texas labels itself the ‘Land of the Big Sky.’  To me, that title also belongs to us.

Can any Texas name any of the yellow wildflowers shown in this blog?

springwildflowersbThe shape of this small tree against the sky fascinated me.  Spring is all about new growth and savoring the world around us.

“I must say as to what I have seen of Texas, it is the garden spot of the world. The best land and best prospects for health I ever saw and I do so believe it is a fortune to any man to come here.” Davy Crockett

Springtime in Texas

Nothing is better than early spring in Texas.  The weather is cool, the trees and fields turn green, seemingly overnight, and the wildflowers are spectacular.

So I’m going to interrupt the posts about Costa Rica again because this subject is current.

springroadThe color of the Texas Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)  is stunning.

springroad1Can’t remember what this bush next to the Redbud is.  I think it’s in the blackberry family.

springroad2Beautiful.  Sadly, they’re a flash in the pan.

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springroad4This flowerbed of Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) in front of the library in Mason has a wow factor.

springroad5Unfortunately, all my pictures from this day have a blurry spot from a fingerprint smudge on my camera lens.  I didn’t notice it until I saw the pictures on my computer.  Sorry.  I hope it isn’t too off putting.

springroad6The author of Old Yeller, published in 1956, was written by a Mason native, Fred Gipson.  The book won a Newbery, a national award for children’s books, and was made into a very popular Disney film.

springroad7South of Mason, the fields and roadsides were a patchwork quilt of colors.

springroad9Here Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, and a variety of Verbena dot the landscape.

springroadaTexas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) is the variety of paintbrush familiar to most Texans.

springroadbOf course, Bluebonnets are the star of the show every year, although they are short lived.

springroaddYellow flowers abound everywhere.  As I’ve mentioned before, there are so many different ones that it’s hard for me to identify them.

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springroadhPaper Daisy or Slender-stem Bitterweed (Hymenoxys scaposa)

springroadjMaybe a Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa)

springroadkDowny Paintbrush (Castilleja sessiliflora), like other paintbrushes, is almost impossible to dig up and transplant because it is semiparasitic on other plants.  It must be started from seeds.

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bluebonnetfieldA picture from the internet that shows a vast coverage of Bluebonnets.  I’ve never seen a sight like this one.

Just loving these days before the summer heat arrives.

“Why are cowboy hats turned up on the sides?  So that three people can fit in the pickup.  Unknown

Native Plant Sale

Every spring in April the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a plant sale.  Friday is members day.  We shop then because the crowd is somewhat smaller and the supplies are plentiful.

LBJjThe eager shoppers line up at least an hour before opening.  Most bring their own wagons to carry home their treasures.  The center has a few carts but recommend that people bring their own.  As they wait, people get acquainted and swap plant advice.

LBJkThe line continues even further past the archway.  The prices of the plants are okay but not fantastic.  The real draw is that only natives are sold.  Believe it or not, it’s difficult to find natives in nurseries.  Local nurseries have some but much less than here.

LBJWhile my husband holds our spot in the line, I wander around enjoying the plants.  The above Columbine is the only native one to Texas.  A solid yellow one had adapted and grows very well here.

LBJl The shape of Wild Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) flowers are unique among Texas natives and is basically a woodland plant.

LBJmThe Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) is in full bloom.  I’m told that it’s a very dependable showstopper.  Just love it.

LBJfI really appreciate public parks and gardens that label the trees, shrubs, and other plants.  This one also provides other useful information.

LBJeAlthough I didn’t find a label for this one, I’m pretty sure that it’s California Poppy, also known as the Golden Poppy.

LBJdMore Cross Vine.  I’m got to get me one of these.  Just need something for it to grow on.  And it needs to be big, because they grow and grow up to 50 ft. long.

It blooms from March through May in full sun or part shade and has low water needs. A friend told me that they are evergreen.   Of course, butterflies and hummingbirds love the tubular flowers.

LBJcOthers also enjoy this area of sunny plants in raised beds.

LBJaThis Eve’s Necklace (Styphnolobium affine) is larger than any that I’ve seen.  Mine was planted two years ago and is now two feet tall .  But they can grow as large as 15 to 30 feet tall and can live on limestone slopes.

LBJbThe seeds look just like they’ve been strung on a cord.  I can hear Glenn Miller’s “String of Pearls” in my head.  But the seeds are said to be poisonous.

LBJ6Noontime is not the best time to take pictures.  Even in this partly shaded area, the strong sun is washing out the pictures.

LBJ5Red buckeye (Aesculus pavis var. pavia) blooms from March through May along streams and creeks or in moist woodlands.

LBJ7This is not what I had pictured as Bunch Grass (Nolina texana) from the Lily Family.  But I’m sure the botanists here know.  It grows in rocky soil from Central Texas into Northern Mexico.

LBJ8The sign says it all.

LBJ9A Maidenhair Fern in a natural type setting.

LBJ2Even a fire hydrant is dressed up with Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis).

LBJ1 It’s impossible to live in Texas and not love the native flowers.  They define spring here.  Sure, most are short lived, but boy, do they fill the land with gorgeous beauty.

Thankfully, there are also some summer wildflowers that can endure the heat.

LBJiThe light is diffusing the blossoms on this tree.

LBJhThe Crab Apple (Malus angustifolia) flowers show up a little better here.  Fruit follows the flowers on this Texas native.  The wildlife enjoy the fruit, but it’s messy in a yard.

LBJgA semi-shady nook as a calm retreat.

LBJ4As we walk out the center, the areas around the parking lots are filled with more wildflowers.

LBJ3It’s easy to see why Lady Bird loved Central Texas and the wildflowers.

LBJnThe name Indian Paintbrushes always confuses me.  I guess they look like brushes dipped in paint, but so do other flowers.  Texas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) is native to Texas and Oklahoma.

It also is a spring bloomer and grows among grasses and other plants.  Their roots invade the roots of other plants to obtain a portion of their needed nutrients.

This time of the year brings special joy to all who enjoy native plants and especially, flowers.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”  Robert Louis Stevenson