Caterpillar gallery by David Berman
The good news is that the butterflies that hatch will have plenty of nectar available to fuel their travels and reproductive escapades once they take flight. Spring wildflowers are showing their many colors in grand form.
According to the experts at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we’re moving from the early to the middle of wildflower season in South and Central Texas. “If it’s bluebonnets in Central Texas you’re looking for, they’re still going strong, but on the downturn from their peak about two weeks ago,” said Andrea DeLong-Amaya, horticulture director at the Center.
Last weekend’s dramatic storm system, which dropped four inches of rain in San Antonio, has precipitated a massive Indian paintbrush bloom, great displays of Indian blanket and winecup. They should be going for a while, said DeLong-Amaya. “Horse mint will be coming on soon, too.”
Temperatures and rainfall determine the length of the wildflower season. If a dry heat wave hits, the flowers won’t last as long.
Texas Department of Transportation has been planting native wildflowers along Texas Highways for more than 80 years. The department hired Jac Gubbels, its first landscape architect, in 1932, to maintain, preserve and encourage wildflowers and other native plants along rights of way, according to the TXDOT website.
Lady Bird Johnson, born in East Texas, evangelized for native plants and wildflowers, bringing the blooms’ special charms to the public’s attention during her tenure as First Lady of the United States during the Lyndon Johnson administration. Her legacy lives on every spring when wildflowers bloom on public lands across the country.
Indian paintbrush and Huisache daisies stole the show on IH10 west of Kerrville this week. Photo by Monika Maeckle
Safety first if you pull over to take pictures. Don’t disrupt traffic on busy or narrow roads, wear bright clothing (David Berman wears an orange safety vest), watch children and pets closely, and avoid dusk and evening photo outings. Better yet, find an area that is off-road.
Etiquette for appreciating wildflowers includes avoiding trampling, excessive picking or otherwise damaging plants. Heavy foot traffic kills plants and destroys their capacity to fuel pollinators like monarchs or produce seeds for birds. It also reduces the display for others to enjoy. “Generally, we encourage plant lovers to be respectful,” said Lee Clippard of the Wildflower Center.
For tips on what’s blooming now, check the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Wildflower Central website. The page offers general wildflower information, a Top 20 Bloomers list–even directions for regional drives that tout the showiest wildflower displays.
TOP PHOTO: Canine correspondent Brisket Rivard enjoys an offroad wildflower outing in Kimball County, Texas. Photo by Monika Maeckle
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