Wildflowers and more in bloom at the Wildflower Center


For Garden Bloggers Bloom Day let’s go to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center here in Austin. I visited on Sunday with family who were in town, hoping to see some bluebonnets. We saw a lot more than that, including these beautiful pink flowers that resembled apple blossoms. Does anyone know what native Texas shrub or tree this might be? Update: It’s a Texas crabapple, also known as Blanco crabapple (Malus ioensis var. texana). Thanks for the ID, Linda/Patchwork Garden and James Smith!


Texas bluebonnets spilled through grassy meadows like spring-fed streams.


They also popped up in surprising places, like this green roof atop the admissions booth.


Swagged from the orange-toned stone walls in the entry garden, ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) added its orange trumpets.


In the Hill Country Stream Garden, pink penstemon raised its cerise signal flags.


A closer look


The yuccas were blooming too, sending spears adorned with creamy, bell-shaped flowers into the sky.


At the edge of a woodland garden, scarlet buckeye (Aesculus pavia) was putting on a big show.


A closer look


A wider shot is nice too.


I missed the label for this swath of pale-blue salvia, but the delicate flowers showed up nicely en masse.


Another soft scene, with no flowers to speak of, but I did admire the mixed textures of grass, maidenhair fern, and yucca.


Wild foxglove’s pale flowers (Penstemon cobaea) are held above glossy, green leaves.


And another crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) drapes over a wooden fence in the Texas Mixed Border Homeowner Inspiration Garden.


I love that rich color, and so do hummingbirds.


The Demonstration Garden was abloom with people, checking everything out…


…like fiery orange California poppy.


We climbed to the top of the observation tower, where I saw a green valentine in this bristly prickly pear pad.


Glowing like coals in a banked fire were the extravagant blooms of claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus).


A closer look


Finally it was time to head out. As we walked through the parking lot to our car, I spotted sunny yellow wildflowers at the edge of the lot…


…and completely covering the ground in a water retention basin.


A few Indian paintbrush were scattered throughout as well.

What a beautiful spring scene! To see my paparazzi pics of the great horned owl nesting at the Wildflower Center, which I posted yesterday, click here.

I’m joining other bloggers for the Bloom Day meme with this post. Visit May Dreams Gardens to see what’s blooming in other gardens around the world on this date. And don’t forget to join me tomorrow for Foliage Follow-Up!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Wildflower season in Texas, a magic carpet of color


A red, white, and blue patriotic spring is in full swing in the fields of east-central Texas.


Guessing that the early wildflowers were in full bloom east of Austin, I made a wildflower run right after school dropoff yesterday — a little late for the golden hour of sunrise, but what the heck. You grab a moment when you can find it. And boy am I glad I did.


I headed out Highway 71 to FM 535, southwest of Bastrop near Rockne — about an hour’s drive from central Austin — and found Texas bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush mixing it up in a magic carpet of color.


Not everything is bigger in Texas. How did these diminutive wildflowers come to occupy such a large place in our hearts?


Winter is not onerous here. We don’t really require cheering up after our mild, evergreen winters.


And yet this tapestry of spring color makes our hearts sing. All along the roadsides you’ll see people hunched over to take photos of the wildflowers, recording the beauty of the season.


Yesterday it was me!


Wildflower photography rules to live by in Texas: don’t cross fences or otherwise enter private property; don’t trample a good stand of wildflowers but leave the show for others to enjoy; and watch out for fire ants and snakes. And take time to breathe deeply because a field of bluebonnets smells like heaven.


Just down the road from the Persian carpet of bluebonnets and paintbrush I found an even bigger field of solid bluebonnets — and this water tower smiling as if pleased to see them too.


I gasped to see so many — bluebonnets spreading out to the horizon.


Pure magic! The white tips of the thickly clustered bluebonnets created the illusion of snow-covered ground, at least from certain angles. A few red paintbrush have invaded, but the field is mainly blue, blue, blue.


Along the fence, a few more paintbrush are sprinkled in. But what do I see in the midground?


Pale pink bluebonnets! A little surprise from Mother Nature.

I hope you enjoyed the show. Have a great weekend, and if you live in central Texas, get out there and enjoy those wildflowers.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Texas wildflowers blooming in Brenham


Indian paintbrush and Texas bluebonnets are coloring fields and roadsides between Austin and Houston salmon-red and blue. The paintbrush is spectacular this year, although plenty of bluebonnets are enticing fellow Texans out of their cars to plop babies, dogs, and themselves among the flowers for the annual bluebonnet photo-op.


My friend Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden and I drove to Houston on Friday morning to spend two days touring gardens and visiting nurseries, After oohing and aahing over flowers along Highway 290, we stopped just north of Brenham, on FM 50 near the Antique Rose Emporium, to take these pictures in a field as colorful as a patchwork quilt.

Unfortunately a hazard of Texas wildflower photography — fire ants — got Diana as she was snapping a few photos of her own. The aggressive ants said hello via several painful bites to the feet before she could yank her sandals off to knock them away. So just to remind you, fellow wildflower admirers, when plopping your children down among the bluebonnets, look carefully and put your own foot there first. The ants will kindly let you know if they’d prefer you choose another spot.


Beautiful blues


I had to get one picture with a pickup truck rattling by. This is Texas, after all.


Maybe two


I’d heard reports that this would be a good year for our native wildflowers, thanks to winter rains and even the ice, all of which added necessary moisture to the soil. Austin roadsides are abloom with bluebonnets right now, and since the eastern half of Texas gets considerably more rain than the western half, I expected a pretty show. My advice to you is to go now to see full bloom east of Austin.


West of Austin, in the more rugged and arid Hill Country, the bluebonnet display may be disappointing this year, from reports I’m reading online. They just haven’t gotten the fall and winter rains the bluebonnets need to germinate. I may still make a drive west in a few weeks, just to see.


But for now, central-east Texas is happening. Go see it.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.