Summer’s Mixed Bouquets

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) & horsemint (Monarda citriodora)
Matagorda County

As much as I enjoy fields overspread with blocks of single floral colors or the detailed portraits of individual flowers, there’s something about a mix of wild summer blooms that always makes me smile.

Each of these photos was taken within twenty feet of a Texas farm-to-market road — proof that native wildflowers can be as accessible as they are beautiful.

Engelmann’s daisy (Engelmannia peristenia) & Maroon fire-wheel (Gaillardia amblyodon)
Gillespie County
Texas bluebell (Eustoma exaltatum) & Hooker’s eryngo (Eryngium hookeri)
Brazoria County
Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) & Maroon fire-wheel (Gaillardia amblyodon)
Kerr county
Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) & American basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus)
Galveston County


Comments always are welcome.


49 thoughts on “Summer’s Mixed Bouquets

  1. What a beautiful display. As you point out most wildflowers are pretty resilient and will grow just about anywhere as long as the soil and other conditions are favourable.

    1. Despite our annual frustrations with county mowing crews, it’s also true that Texas is generally pretty good about letting wildflowers bloom and go to seed before cutting them down. Especially in more rural and out-of-the-way areas, a drive in the country can be pure delight.

    1. And did you notice that I included our eryngo? It still tickles me that you have a species in your garden. I suspect yours might be sea holly (Eryngium maritimum), but it was fun to see it, whatever the species.

      Here’s a fun tidbit: In Act 5, scene v of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff declaims:

      “Let the sky rain potatoes;
      let it thunder to the tune of Green-sleeves,
      hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes,
      let there come a tempest of provocation…”

  2. Very nice wildflower shots of two of my favorite flowers. I want to try growing some of the horse mint since it’s so attractive to bees. I grew tomatillos too this year which have produced but not nearly as they should have and I am thinking that I need to attract more bees. I hardly saw any bees this year. I know that bees are on the decline but none the less I suppose I can hope and dream for more bees.

    1. I think I read that native bees are more effective pollinators than honey bees. I can’t swear to that, but you might want to take a look at this Xerces site to see if there are some tips there you can use. I know I’m seeing more native bees than usual, although it’s entirely possible that’s only because I’m more aware of them.

      I thought this article about tomatillos was interesting, too.You may know everything it includes, but since I’m no gardener at all, I’m always finding information that intrigues me.

  3. That’s one very clean and tidy black-eyed Susan.

    Your title invokes summer, so I’m assuming some of these pictures date back to pretty early summer. Either that, or you’ve been blessed with some late-season prodigies.

    1. I’d say the black-eyed Susan is the best photo of the group, although the one showing the eryngo and bluebell is my favorite.

      All of these were taken in May or June. I grew up thinking of June, July, and August as summer, but when wildflowers begin appearing in February and really take off in March and April, it’s hard not to think of summer as May, June, and July.

      January is winter, of course, and August… well, we all know about August. It’s not a season, it’s an endurance challenge.

    1. It is, indeed. The kids are back in school, the Halloween decorations already are in the stores, and I caught a wiff of smoke in the air: can autumn be far behind? It occurred to me I needed to share a few of these summer beauties before the migrating birds start wheeling in.

  4. Such a gorgeous array of wildflowers and so beautiful captured. That’s a field I’d like to walk through any day.

    1. I love finding places where a variety of species bloom at the same time. It’s not only pleasing to the eye, it seems to be pleasing to the pollinators. There’s something for everyone on this floral buffet table, and they take full advantage of it.

      It’s fun to see different species in different areas of the state, too. A ‘retrospective’ like this brings into focus the fact that what I see ‘here’ isn’t necessarily going to show up ‘there.’ It helps to make ‘ecoregion’ more than a dry category in a scientific article.

  5. All so beautiful, and wonderful that Texas allows this wild spirit to continue still in places. The blues really capture me and then I imagine walking through the horsemint and I’m lost in fragrance….. .

    1. Between the heat and work obligations, I’ve not been out and about in these areas for quite some time. I’m hoping to re-visit them in September, to catch the emergence of fall flowers. Many of my photos of those were taken two or three years ago, and I’d like to replace them with better images. Let’s just say a quick run through the archives can serve as a reminder of just how bad some of those early photos were. I don’t mind that; it’s a reminder, too, of progress made.

  6. I love that delicate little halo of yellow in the center of the black-eyed susan in the first photograph. And I’d also like about 10 yards of cotton crepe fabric in that bluebell blue, too, please.

    1. That’s definitely the best photo, but I thought it deserved to have some companions to help convey the richness of these summer blooms. I thought about you when I choose the bluebell/eryngo combo. Knowing how much you like that family of colors, I’m not surprised it appeals. I’ll get that fabric right out to you.

    1. I’ve seen beautiful sights in other parts of the country, especially in Arkansas and Missouri, but I must say our variety is something to behold. Steve Schwartzman mentioned that on their recent trip to the NE the most common and widespread wildflower was Queen Anne’s lace: pretty, but not even native.

    1. Sometimes it’s nice to look back and remember how varied and delightful the season has been, Pete. It was pure pleasure sorting through my photos, and I’m glad you enjoyed these.

  7. These are beautiful, Linda — thank you! Mother Nature doesn’t need much help from us in making things pretty, does she? And it’s an added bonus that these blooms pop up where we can enjoy them for free — without having to hunker down and weed, ha!

    1. That’s right — just like you got your black-eyed Susans in your yard without any effort at all.

      In truth, less human intervention is better. One of the tricks to nurturing wildflowers is a willingness not to mow them down until they’ve finished blooming and have put on seed. No seed, no flowers next year! Raggedy plants at the end of their life cycle may seem untidy, but that untidiness is part of the deal if we want the beauty.

  8. Another recurved black-eyed susan. I’ve never seen one before and now both you and Steve have shared examples. Lucky youse.
    Your images are filled with Nature’s largess. So much beauty in, apparently, so many places there in Texas.

    1. That may be the prettiest black-eyed Susan I’ve ever seen. It certainly was as nearly perfect a specimen as I’ve come across. Doesn’t the center look like a birthday cake with a ring of candles around it?

      One of the frustrations of living here is trying to cover it all in a season. While I was trotting around east Texas this summer, I was missing a good bit in my usual favorite places. So it goes. But it’s nice to look back. I’ll be doing a bit more of that, because I still have photos from the hill country from last fall and spring that haven’t been posted. I keep telling myself that winter’s coming, and I’ll have more time to sort, process, and post. Right now, it’s time to be out looking around, at least as much as I can.

    1. Those flowers are two of my favorites, and when I found a large patch of them blooming together, I couldn’t have been happier. Now and then I like the tangle of naturally-composed arrangements, and that one — complete with a pollinator — was perfect.

      1. ‘Flower gardens’ are fairly common along the High Sierra trails I wander, Linda. Almost anywhere you find water. And always an occasion for breaking out my camera. Yours were quite special.

    1. Depending on which list you’re consulting, Texas has ten or twelve ecoregions, and I’ve spent the majority of my time exploring only three of them, although I’ve traveled through at least eight. Imagine the variety I could have added had I traveled a little farther afield! That’s a goal for the coming year. I ought to be able to add at least one or two more.

  9. With August almost about to end I can assume that you have endured the challenge, yet again. Well done. And well done and thank you for these beautiful wildflower photos. I love mixed bouquets both in vases and in fields.

    1. I always enjoy your bouquets, because you do combine flowers so beautifully. They always have a natural feel; some arrangements aren’t as appealing to me because they seem so — arranged.

      It’s a bit early to stop enduring, but, a la Faulkner, I believe we will prevail. We do have a three-day holiday weekend coming up, and hot or not, I’ll find some way to make use of it — with one eye cocked toward Hurricane Dorian. Even if it crosses Florida and makes it into the Gulf, it won’t mar the weekend here, but I see the intensity forecast’s changing. It’s time to pay attention again.

      1. Thank you, Linda. I used to find flower arranging very hard until I realised that the way the flowers arranged themselves in a garden was an excellent method to follow. Enjoy the weekend and whatever you have planned for it.

    1. Thanks! This is the first year I’ve seen such spreads of the maroon blanket flower. It really surprised me to learn that it’s a separate species; it’s the most glorious color. Mixed with the bluebonnets, it’s even more impressive than the Indian paintbrush: at least, to my taste.

    1. This was a wonderful — nay, spectacular — spring and summer when it came to wildflower displays. It seemed as though every road was trying to outdo the next, and I loved every minute of it.

    1. You can see why we Texans look forward to “wildflower season.” Some years are better than others, of course, but even in the less spectacular years, there’s plenty of vibrant color to enjoy.

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