April means wildflowers are blooming in Texas

bluebonnets in TexasApril is the beginning of wildflower season in Texas–where the annual burst of blooms provides a spectacular display of Nature’s handiwork.  Bluebonnets, the state flower, are just starting to emerge, especially in the Hill Country of central Texas.

By mid-April a large variety of wildflowers should be in full glory, thanks in large part to the late Lady Bird Johnson, who promoted beautification of Texas highways through spreading of wildflower seeds.  As a result, many of the wildflower meadows today are manmade with seeds sown and allowed to grow undisturbed in fields, parks, and along roadways.

Last fall the Texas Department of Transportation distributed more than 100 acres of wildflower seeds at popular spots in and around Travis County–along Loop 1 in Austin, Interstate 35, U.S. 183, Texas 29, and U.S. 79–as well as scattered points across the state.  Visitors come to marvel at spectacular displays that these efforts help Mother Nature produce.wildflowers

In the spring, fields of typically rocky soil dotted with prickly cacti–and an occasional steer or two—will turn into a sea of colorful blooms waving in the breeze: pink spiderwort and evening primrose, red Indian paintbrush, burgundy claret cup, purple prairie verbena, yellow daisy, and white prickly poppy. Indian blanket, coneflowers, and Mexican hat add yellow-tipped red petals while Texas lantana grows wild in a rainbow of hues.

In 2010 weather conditions were perfect for the most outstanding show in a decade. Although predictions indicate it may not be as awesome in 2011, there will still be plenty to admire. So plan a day trip through the Hill Country and soak in the pageantry at your own pace.

wildflowersJust outside Marble Falls, a gorgeous roadside display of red, blue, yellow, and pink flowers catches your attention. Plot your next stop over a cup of coffee and slice of homemade pie at the Bluebonnet Café, a favorite hang-out for locals since 1929.  Then head to nearby Lake LBJ and Horseshoe Bay to see showy fields of yellow flowers surrounding huge oak trees.

Bluebonnets decorate Park Road 4 leading to Longhorn Caverns, a cool cave to visit if you have time.  Other popular sightings include Canyon of the Eagles and fields around Llano. Chase away any lingering hunger at Cooper’s Old-Time Pit Barbeque, where the smoky aroma of meal grilling is too tempting to resist.

On the way to Fredericksburg, stop at the Prairie Mountain schoolhouse to see gorgeous fields of pink and yellow flowers.  Just outside the city, the road to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area provides a lovely array of blue and red blooms.prickly poppy

Willow City Loop is famous for abundant bluebonnets, but keep in mind that the road goes through private property, so stopping for photographs is discouraged.  Contrary to popular belief, it is not against the law to pick bluebonnets—but it is against the law to trespass, so tread carefully.

wildflowersIf you really want an Easter photo of the kids surrounded by bluebonnets, head to Lady Bird Wildflower Center in Austin where specific spots are designated for taking pictures. Or dress up the kiddos and head to bluebonnet-covered hillsides around Brenham in Washington County, south of Austin. Sweet Berry Farm to the north and San Antonio to the west are other favorite destinations that should yield plenty of great photo opps.

Daily wildflower sightings are listed at several web sites including Wildflower.org and Wildflower Sightings.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

Read more about wildflowers and other destinations at Going on Adventures and Austin Adventure Travel

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Also read Texas Hill Country in Spring