San Antonio Express News
Sunday, March 14, 2004
By Lynn Rawe
I lived in northern Georgia for a couple of years and experienced their springtimes. The Rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurels and dogwoods were spectacular! However, there was something missing. I longed for sunrises, sunsets (too many tall trees), Blue Bell ice cream, Whataburger, and… WILDFLOWERS! This longing for wildflowers soon brought me back home to Texas.
Texas offers such beauty in so many ways during springtime. Gardens await visitors anxious to view the first yellow blooms of daffodils. The roadsides, covered by a carpet of bluebonnets, seize our breath.
Some of these places are very close by, while others are a half-day drive away. Outside of our beautiful city of San Antonio there are places one should not miss in the spring. The Texas Hill Country attracts people from far and wide, anxious to see her beautiful wildflowers. Two places that are a “must see are Wildseed Farms outside of Fredericksburg and LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. Both of these places will provide “eye candy” for any photographer. Wildseed Farms offers one of the most dramatic displays of wildflowers anywhere. The different wildflowers growing there will entice any gardener to try something different. (800/848-0078) LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin is in a wonderful botanical center, where one can learn about native plants and their importance in nature. The wildflower center also offers a wonderful example of water collection and an architecturally artistic aqueduct. (512/292-4100)
Farther to the north is the Dallas Arboretum. The “Dallas Blooms” event is another “must see!” This is their 20th Anniversary! Celebrate with them between March 6 and April 11. More than 300,000 spring-blooming bulbs and over 20,000 azaleas, with thousands of annuals and perennials, will be blooming for your pleasure. (214/515-6500)
While you are in Dallas, zip over to Ft. Worth and take a walk through the Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens. (817/871-7686) Any gardener will enjoy standing at the top of the rose garden (the site of many a wedding!), looking across the hundreds of roses on display. You can’t go to the Ft. Worth Botanical Garden without seeing their Japanese Garden. This tranquil, peaceful place will make you forget your troubles while you observe the simple beauty that surrounds you.
For those of you who prefer the more “native” side of spring, Heard Natural History Museum, in McKinney, is a wonderful treat. The Heard offers natural beauty, with walking trails galore. (972/562-5566)
To the East, Tyler’s Azalea Trail, from March 19 to April 24 will delight your senses with miles of colorful azaleas. (903/592-1661) The Tyler Rose Garden is America’s largest public collection of 30,000+ roses–plus various theme gardens and information on the Texas rose industry. (903/531-1212)
Next, drop on over for Palestine’s “Dogwood Trails” the last two weekends of March and the first weekend of April. (903/729-7275) While in that neck of the woods, take the Texas State Railroad’s 1 1/2 hour trip to Rusk– a trip through the Piney Woods, and take in some of the most beautiful scenery in Texas.
Most people wouldn’t think of going to West Texas to see wildflowers in bloom. But, one of the most memorable sights I have ever seen was in Big Bend one magical April, just a few days after a spring rain. The mountains were the most spectacular color of magenta. This visual display took my breath away as I looked at hillside spreads of strawberry cactus in full bloom. Call Big Bend National Park at 432/477-2251 and ask about the wildflower and cactus blooming time before making the trip.
Visit the Aggie Hort webpage if you need help in identifying a wildflower you may have spotted. This great site includes an index by common name, an index by scientific name, photos and descriptions of the plants listed…
I challenge you to travel Texas, and experience a spring you will never forget. Take pictures and share your memories with your gardening friends. The Texas Department of Transportation’s
wildflower hotline (800-452-9292) gives callers information on the best spots to find wildflowers along the 79,000-mile Texas highway system.
To make it easier to find wildflowers in bloom, callers may request information by seven different regions of the state: Big Bend, Gulf Coast, Hill Country, Panhandle, Piney-Woods (East Texas), Prairies and Lakes (North Central Texas), and Southwest Texas. It is still a little early, but in a bout two weeks you may call daily, between 8AM and 6PM through early May. Visit the website at http://www.dot.state.tx.us/lrd/newsrel/038%2D2003.htm
This article was written by Lynn Rawe, County Extension Agent-Horticulture with Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County.