Kicking around the Texas Hill Country, looking for bluebonnets


After my talk at Backbone Valley Nursery in Marble Falls last Saturday, we headed southwest to cruise the Willow City Loop, a series of ranch roads leading through rugged, hilly country where wildflowers are typically thick—as thick as the traffic on a wildflower-peeping Saturday in spring. On this day, however, we saw few other cars and even fewer bluebonnets. (So unlike our wildflower safari in bluebonnet-rich 2010.)


Oh, we saw some bluebonnets here and there, along with smatterings of fiery Indian paintbrush. However, the flowers were not only few but unusually low-growing due to the ongoing drought. The parched ground just hasn’t inspired many wildflowers to return this year.


We did spot quite a lot of hymenoxys, or four-nerve daisy.


Disappointed, we left the Loop to the weekend Harley riders and headed back to Austin through Sandy, where we spotted dozens of old boots turned upside down on the cedar posts of a barbed-wire fence…


…all carefully pointed the same way.


Finally, a decent patch of bluebonnets! I asked my husband to pull over, and after making sure no fire ants or rattlesnakes lurked on the roadside, I got down on hands and knees to frame a lush-looking photo. Don’t be fooled—the roadsides are not thick with bluebonnets this year. But if you look carefully, you’ll still find a few patches of the iconic wildflower of Texas.

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

11 Responses

  1. Anna says:

    Yes, sadly there are fewer wildflowers this year. However, i have been seeing some out East of Austin toward Webberville.

    Good to know! We also saw some nice patches near Marble Falls that morning. —Pam

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a hoot with the boots. Someone had a good idea to protect their posts. Love seeing even a smattering of blooms what with our new blanket of snow slowing down spring here.

    More snow, eh? We’re dancing close to freezing tonight, which is surprisingly to many an Austin gardener, including myself, who felt that our recent 90-degree days were a sign that winter was long over. —Pam

  3. Hilary McDaniel says:

    Pam, we did Antique Rose Emp. Then 290 to Austin. We saw quite a few patches on 390 to Independence from 77. Once we were south of Caldwell they started getting long patches to see. Also FM 50 had quite a few. 290 to Austin was pretty, too. We don’t even have a shabby showing here north of Waco. Quite a shame as that’s our claim to fame in the spring. All the bikers really love their rides in the spring. BTW, we got to 31 last night, saying 27 tonight. I’ve lived in Texas forever and have NEVER seen mesquite trees fooled. Ours leafed out 10 days ago, so I was sure no more freeze. Our garden looks like one big row cover this morning. Really crazy weather.

    The mesquites were fooled and so were many gardeners, myself included! I’m still hoping my garden will escape an actual freeze tonight, though I know it will be close. —Pam

  4. KimH says:

    Thanks for this update… Im heading to North Texas next Tuesday from Ohio to visit family, my brand new granddaughter, & take a side trip to either East Texas or the Austin area to look for wildflowers.. and Bluebonnets were heading the list of flowers to find.. sigh..
    They just dont do wildflowers here in Ohio like they do in Texas. Sounds like they’re not doing too great there either..
    Thanks for the update!

    I hope a few more will be in bloom by the time you get here, Kim. You’ll see plenty of yellows this year, even if bluebonnets are sadly lacking. —Pam

  5. Jenny says:

    You made a fun day of it after work was over. Interesting fence-post toppers. So Texas. As to the wildflowers: what a disappointing year it is. I was at the WFC twice this week, giving tours, and we had visitors from California. They loved the place but there were so few flowers. Only one decent patch of bluebonnets. They are far behind my garden.

    Yes, it’s a poor year for them—a shame. Well, it makes us appreciate them all the more when they put on a good show. —Pam

  6. ricki says:

    I truly hope this dearth of wildflowers is not a sign of things to come. Better hang on to that swell photo.

    The bluebonnets have made it through many a long drought before. Many seeds will just lie dormant until conditions are right again. Eternally hopeful! —Pam

  7. cheryl says:

    Those boots don’t look so old to me. the heels aren’t worn down and the soles on a couple look brand new.MY boots look worse than those. LOL

    I wonder if they may have picked them up on sale at Goodwill? You’re right—they don’t look very worn. —Pam

  8. I do so enjoy wildflowers. Sadly each year is a little different in what blooms. It does make the more prolific years all that more beautiful.

    Yes, I definitely appreciate the big years now that I know what the lean years are like. —Pam

  9. commonweeder says:

    three or four years ago, while visiting our daughter near Houston, we went hunting for bluebonnets. We had to drive a long way to the Bluebonnet festival. It was cold and when we finally found a patch of bluebonnets to sit in and take photos poor Kate sat on a red ant hill. Searched for a drugstore to find something soothing. Unforgettable trip. The bluebonnets were beautiful.

    I bet that was unforgettable, especially for Kate. Ouch! I’m glad you saw good bluebonnets that year. —Pam

  10. Nelson says:

    Glad to know that there are still some bluebonnets. This beautiful flower sometimes called as buffalo clover and wolf flower. Mexicans refer to this flower as el conejo. The most common variety has flowers that are vivid royal blue, while the topmost florets have white tips.

    Texas bluebonnets are lovely no matter which name they’re known by, aren’t they? —Pam

  11. Not too many bluebonnets around here either…put you did find the boots – and that is super cool!!!!! :)

    Yeah, the boots were pretty cool. But now I’ve got “These boots were made for walkin’” song going through my head. —Pam