Marking the First Day of Spring

Monthalia, Texas ~ Spring, 2019

Nothing says ‘spring’ in Texas like our bluebonnets, and they’ve been celebrating the turn toward this new season for some time. While everyone loves to see them overspreading the fields, it’s fun to find them hanging out with their friends as well. At the Rockport cemetery on March 7, several delightful pairings presented themselves.

Tucked among the Indian blankets (Gaillardia pulchella)
Backed by pink phlox (Phlox spp.)
Paired with woolly globe mallow (Sphaeralcea lindeimeri)
Complementing my favorite white prickly poppy (Argemone albiflora)


Comments always are welcome.
Click any image for greater size and more detail.

57 thoughts on “Marking the First Day of Spring

  1. Your good closeup of the bluebonnet lets people see the little hairs that characterize these plants.

    I’m wondering if at least some of the Gaillardia might be G. amblyodon, which is marked for Gonzales County on the USDA map and which I seem to remember seeing in Cost last year. You can compare the pictures in the Wildflower Center database and see what you think.

    1. I wondered about that myself, but finally decided on G. pulchella, given that the color variation among them was substantial, and there were many with yellow and orange in their ray flowers. After I got home, I compared my photos with those from the Willow City loop last year, and decided to stick with G. pulchella. Of course, there could have been a mix of the species.

      It was interesting to see that the photo you linked to came from Willow City. They were thick up there last year, and impressive as could be. In fact, I was intent on photographing some of them the day I stepped on the snake. Another memorable moment in my personal annals of photography.

    1. I’m so sorry. I’d been hoping to make a trip that direction, too, but some places I wanted to go would require an overnight stay. Hotels are out just now, and I don’t want to stay with an older friend, either. Time will tell how things will work out.

  2. Lovely photos! Seems early for bluebonnets this year. We saw quite a bit at our hike at Lake Somerville last weekend. Agree that your gaillardia could be the other species—I looked for them at Lake Somerville which is where I’ve seen them before. No luck this time.

    1. I looked in my files, and the last three years bluebonnets have been out by mid-to-late March, so I guess “seems” is the operative word. It’s been such an odd spring, and it’s hard to believe that so many are blooming already, even though they’re on their usual schedule. It’s really hard to know that I’ll miss so many of the trips I was looking forward to this year.

    1. I like the combination of blue and orange/red, too. I grew up thinking of pastels as spring colors, and then I moved to Texas and discovered a different sort of spring.

  3. gorgeous photos. much better than my attempts at the bluebonnets in my yard which are at peak right now. and I love the white prickly poppies. I wish I could get them established here.

    1. It’s funny that you can’t get the poppies established, since they’re pretty common in your part of the country. The best stands I’ve ever seen were along Highway 71 in Colorado County. Do you think you might be a little wet for them? Every place I find them tends to be a little sandy, or at least poorer soil. They’re tough, no question about that.

      Lucky you, to have those bluebonnets! We’re starting to see lots of pink evening primrose now, too, and a second flush of Indian paintbrush.

    1. I suppose it would be possible to think only of the current unpleasantness 24/7, but I’m not certain what good purpose that would serve. There’s room in my life for hand-washing and pretty flowers both, and these were absolute treats to find!

  4. Spring has different markers in different regions, but I have to admit, Linda, that your spring in Texas is exceptionally beautiful. The first shot above takes my breath away. Oh to be immersed in it all, and to hear the sounds of the birds and the insect pollinators. Miriam and I heard our first Eastern Meadowlarks singing this morning and that’s a darn good sign of spring for me.

    1. Spring is a wonderful season here. Apart from the plants, there are the migrations, as well. The swallows are back now, and one serenaded me at work today. Their chirps and twitters are absolutely smile-producing, and we’re always glad to see them swooping around, helping to thin the mosquitoes that are becoming an annoyance again.

      I’ve not yet heard a meadowlark this spring, but the red-winged blackbirds are trilling, and the grackles are beginning to strut their stuff. It won’t be that long before we have those silly grackle babies trailing their parents, begging for food!

  5. My calendar says spring starts the 20th but I’m more than happy to push it a day earlier, especially when it’s so beautiful. Each photo makes me smile — I just love the contrast of the bright colors!

    1. This year, today is the first day of spring. I’ve always thought of it as the 20th or 21st, but this year it arrived on the 19th. There’s an entertaining explanation here. The good news is that the flowers don’t need a calendar; they’re happy to arrive when conditions are right — and aren’t we glad?

  6. Your photos are spring, to be sure. I’m seeing bluebonnets along MoPac and in gardens, so we’re in the blue now. I’ve always loved the white poppies, though here in Austin, they’re scarce.

    1. I laughed at your mention of MoPac; it reminded me that there’s a hashtag on Twitter called #EvilMoPac. I take it the traffic there can be devilish from time to time. At least it has bluebonnets as a consolation prize!

      In my experience, the poppies are pretty widely spread; I’ve seen them along the bay in Palacios and on the Willow City loop, as well as all over Colorado county. But they don’t seem to like urban areas or our part of the coast. One thing’s certain — every time I come across them, I’m pleased.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them, Pete. Each of our seasons has lovely flowers, but spring is the highlight for me. So many of my favorites will be in bloom now for a month or so, and I do hope I can manage to find more within range of home.

  7. Such a HAPPY sight — thank you, Linda! It’s easy to get depressed over the news these days (and being “isolated” isn’t fun for anybody!) but Texas Bluebonnets have a way of perking me right up!

    1. You’re right that the news isn’t exactly cheerful: quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. But, there’s no harm in turning it off for a bit, and enjoying the season, especially if there’s a little sunshine and color to soothe our souls.

  8. Hard to pick a favorite. The middle 3 pictures are so stunning. The Indian Blankets around the bluebonnet is elegant – but you manage to catch such fuzzy texture with the other two, they almost look like you could actually touch and feel them. Yes, these definitely perk us up.

    1. Those woolly globe mallows are a kick. They really are as fuzzy as they look; remember those 1950s toys that had that textured “fur” all over them? That’s what they feel like. I found them at Rockport last year, and sure enough — when I got there this year, I went over to the grave where I’d found them, and there they were. In fact, there were more than last year. By next year, they should have spread even more.

  9. What a fantastic meadow of flowers, Linda. Gets the juices flowing for our floral return still weeks away and nowhere near as bountiful. They are all lovely images and I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite.

    1. I think the phrase “embarassment of riches” might apply. One tree I really enjoyed last year was gone, but it was a true tropical and may have been taken out by a freeze. On the other hand, there was a lovely Cape honeysuckle I didn’t remember from last year: not native, but still pretty. There was enough to hold my attention for an entire day, that’s for sure.

  10. As I am a fan of blue and white, the blue bonnet is a big fav. A family friend and her family used to live in a converted cowboy bunkhouse outside of a nearby town, and her front lawn was a wildflower meadow, which her husband didn’t have to mow and she didn’t have to weed. Mother nature did all the work. I suspect it looked a lot like that top picture some years.

    1. That sounds like the best of all worlds: no mowing or weeding. It’s always interesting to see what pops up from year to year, too. Not knowing exactly what’s going to appear, or when, is part of the fun. And in lean years, when our favorites aren’t quite as prolific, they still put on quite a show. When it comes to the bluebonnet, that’s especially worth celebrating.

    1. It’s interesting that the media keeps talking about ‘distance’ and ‘isolation’ rather than solitude. I suppose that makes sense, given that distance (six feet or so) is a useful marker for staying healthy. Still: there are ways to enjoy the beauties of the season, and crowds aren’t necessary — thank goodness!

  11. Such wonderful, happy photographs! Thank you for sharing your beautiful flowers – they’re a joy.

    1. I certainly was happy during the whole of my day with the flowers. Not having a garden, I have to seek out my flowers, and I certainly was rewarded on this trip. I’m glad you found them pleasing; we certainly need all the joy we can find at this point.

    1. I’ve certainly admired your English bluebells and other spring flowers that fill the woods, but when our bluebonnets and other wildflowers come out, envy goes out the window. They’re such spirit lifters, and utterly beautiful.

    1. I was so pleased with the way the photos came out, particularly since it was quite a cloudy, even gloomy, day, and windy as well. Of course, the globe mallows — in fact, everything but the prickly poppy — were closer to the ground, which helped with the wind. The color of the mallows is just wonderful. I always think of it as similar to the color of a good orange sherbet.

    1. It’s drizzly and gloomy here, too. Sometimes I go back and look at my own photos, just to remember how beautiful it’s going to be when the sun shines again. Tomorrow, maybe!

    1. What a kind thing to say! One thing that I’m sure helped with this set of photos was the light. It was a cloudy but not gloomy day, and the light was very even. I’ve often found photographing wildflowers harder in bright, strong sunlight, and I think I lucked out here.

    1. Thanks, Judy! Things are finally settling down here a bit, although an edge of panic still is palpable in places. It looks like Sunday is going to be sunny and nice, and I’m hoping to get out for a bit more photography. If golfing and running in the parks are acceptable activities, who could fuss at an isolated photographer?

      1. Absolutely!! Many of the natural areas around here are closed….so no trips to the rookery during this time…sad too as its prime nesting season still….so will examine existing images more thoughtfully and tempted to work on some still life ideas. I don’t have much control of time lately though. I don’t sense panic around here other than the continued shortages of paper goods. Although employees of some companies ,like restaurants ,laid off must be panicking on getting the rent paid. I think the most affected areas seem to be destination areas for travelers….like us in Dade or Broward counties.

        Sure hope you can get out to the park though for some welcome respite.

        1. We just took a real hit this week. Tilman Fertitta, he of the casino/restaurant/entertainment venue empire, furloughed 40,000 workers. Oh, my. And Galveston Island is taking extreme measures to get the tourists off the island, partly to maintain supplies for island residents. The people who earn their living by renting out properties aren’t happy, but at least they’re allowing people with long-term rentals to stay: particularly people from the north who come down to spend the winter.

          Our refuges are open, as are some of the lesser-known spots for birding, where crowds aren’t ever a problem. My general preference for solitude even in ordinary times means that even now I can find places to go. In fact, yesterday afternoon, while I was waiting for some varnish to dry, I made a quick check of a colony of bluestars along a county road, and one of our game wardens happened by and stopped to chat. We know each other from previous encounters, and it was nice to see him. Best of all, his advice was to enjoy the day, and have a good time. Clearly, gray-haired old ladies with cameras self-isolating in the country are acceptable.

          There’s other news, including the saga of a friend in the hill country, but I’ll tell you about that later.

          1. Hopefully this will all go away with the end of the cold/flu season and the advent of summer. Viruses don’t tend to like UV so enjoy the sun!!

            Perhaps I need to be more creative and find some natural places not actually parks that might be closed. Frustrating part is the closed beaches and not being able to do shore birds or simply stroll or even get in the salt water generally considered a healthy thing to do. My husband took our boat to the yard and had to run off some gas first. So he saws lots of boats out and I imagine that’s the best way to get into the ocean now if you want to.

            This weekend I’ll most likely visit nature via some computer image work to prepare for a submission. Spring cleaning maybe???

            Times like this do make us even more grateful for the technology that lets us still chat with friends all over the globe via communities like WordPress.

  12. Lovely shots. Clearly, when they were called for their close ups, they were ready. Isn’t is nice how macro, in addition to the obvious beauty everyone sees, also shows all that cool fine detail and texture? It adds a whole ‘nother level to the composition.

    1. Getting my macro lens was one of the best decisions I’ve made. At the time, I waffled because of the price, but I did it anyway, and it’s paid me back a thousand-fold or more. For one thing, it’s made buds and seed pods much more interesting — and then, there are all those insects I never suspected. Sometimes I don’t even see them in real life; they only appear once I’m at the computer, looking at the images and saying, “Well, gosh darn! Look at that!”

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