Pre-Freeze Pastels

Despite our current freezing temperatures, a new season is ready to spring forth across the Texas coast. On the last weekend of January, these delicate but familiar beauties already had appeared: a welcomed sign of things to come.

Along a Brazoria County road, one of several species of Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) was flowering in small patches. A member of the Iris family, its blooms eventually will fill ditches and cover roadsides.

Several Oxalis species are found in Texas. Some are native; others, like this Oxalis debilis blooming at a local nature center, have arrived from the tropics and made themselves at home. Often found at woodland edges, its flowers regularly host a variety of bees and flies.

Less toxic than the Celery-leaved Buttercup, Early Buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis) can appear seemingly overnight, filling pastures and vacant city lots with its pleasant glow. Favored by bees, a variety of flies, and butterflies, they bloom in numbers capable of attracting human attention as well.

While each of these may have been set back by ice and cold, a bit of sunshine and warming temperatures will be all that’s needed to encourage them back into bloom.

Comments always are welcome.

70 thoughts on “Pre-Freeze Pastels

  1. It is so wonderful to see signs of spring, even if Texas is going through a cold snap right this moment. Here in Northern Virginia, we were spared by this recent snowstorm, but we have quite a ways to go before spring arrives. It was particularly nice to see your shot of a hoverfly. I can’t wait for it to be warm enough for the bees, butterflies, and dragonflies to reappear.

    1. We have quite a few butterflies now, and the same weekend I found these pretties I saw a dragonfly. There was only one, and it took me a minute to even realize that’s what I’d seen: but it was. Of course, the pleasure right now is the lack of mosquitoes, but I’ll gladly deal with those in exchange for some warmer weather.

  2. I’m getting rather hungry for flowers, but I’ll have a long wait for Sisyrinchiums here. You’re weeks ahead of us, although 2022 has started off so mild, that our flowers are appearing ahead of schedule.

    1. I’m eager to check the long-flowering bougainvillea in my neighborhood that’s held flowers all the way through the winter. By last week they were fairly sparse, but still there; it will be interesting to see if any linger after this cold spell. It’s an interesting time of year, since some of last summer’s flowers still are lingering, even as the first spring flowers appear.

    1. I think Oxalis is lovely. We have a native species that’s yellow, with larger flowers and red markings. It’s more of an east Texas flower, but I’m hoping to find some this year.

    1. Even down here, we get eager for spring flowers. A few dandelions are nice, and the anemones are pretty, but when the ‘mixed bouquets’ start showing up, everyone smiles. I noticed a couple of sunflowers by a fence the other day, and meant to go back to take their photo, but didn’t. Their friends should be here before long.

    1. Those are exactly the conditions we have: blue skies, sunshine, and 43. By noon, it will be really nice, and the coming week looks perfectly suited for more flowers. I hope yours bloom soon!

    1. Yes, but you have those lovely frosty flowers; when we get true cold, our blooms tend to shrivel rather than sparkle like yours. Out of curiosity, what’s your latitude? I’m at 29°N, give or take, while the top of the Texas Panhandle is 36°N. My friend in Tywyn, Wales, is at 52°N, which makes for quite a difference. Even here in Texas, spring arrives over a period of several weeks; that’s why people ‘follow’ the wildflower bloom from one part of the state to another.

      1. Here in Suffolk, we’re almost exactly the same as your friend in Wales, but with a very much drier climate than there. (The west side of the UK gets a lot more rain than the east.) I can imagine that over a large state, the spring will arrive in some areas earlier. That’s true over the UK, but our individual counties are small, so the differences are more at country level.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how much difference a hundred miles can make? I’ve been otherwise occupied today and haven’t been out to see how things fared, but I suspect they’re just fine. There may be some burn and nipped buds, but south of Clear Lake stayed at freezing or just above, with a touch of wind chill to make things interesting. It looks like we’ll have a lovely week ahead, and then it’s mid-February, and then we ought to be in the clear — unless we get a March blizzard, of course!

  3. We really inhabit different worlds at the moment. Last week you were out recording insects and wildflowers; I just got back from a second morning photographing icicles. What a difference 200 miles makes, most of it not even north-south.

    1. The moderating effect of water makes for some of that difference. Galveston Island’s always a few degrees warmer than I am, and in turn my south side of Clear Lake, near the Bay, stays a bit warmer than the north side. We never had ice, except for a few overpasses, while anyone heading out 290 had a real mess to contend with. Even people heading straight west ran into bad conditions fairly quickly; it’s amazing to watch things develop.

  4. Spring is getting ready to ‘sprung,’ Linda. Here it has been behaving like that for the past two weeks. The cold nights remind us that it is still a month and a half away. The leaves on the shooting stars are coming up, however, soon they will be blooming. –Curt

    1. My dad always teased me with the old verse: “Spring is sprung, the grass is riz; I wonders where the flowers iz?” I’ve made my February 1 trip down to Walden West, and am working on that post today. Flowers aside, I’ve learned three new trees; I presume it won’t be long until they start producing buds, catkins, or flowers. I’ll have to spend some time studying photos of what to expect, since it seems that some of the produce flowers that aren’t quite as dramatic or noticeable as these.

      1. Sorry this took so long, Linda. We have been a bit tied up in selling the house and moving, to say the least. I first heard the verse from one of my college professors as we watched young couples disappearing into the woods I spring. –Curt

        1. Perfectly understandable, Curt. Selling a house is one thing — moving is another. Combine them? There’s bound to be a thing or two falling through the cracks, and it might as well be blogging! I hope all’s going well. I was sure you’d surface in time, and I’m just as sure you’ll not have any problem selling in this market. Perhaps you already have!

            1. As the old saying has it, time flies when you’re having fun! Now that you’ve got that selling, packing, crating, dispersing, and decision-making done, it’s time to move on down the road. You know me: there’s always a song, and my new fav from Rodney Crowell seems like the perfect moving on song for you and Peggy.

            2. Good song, Linda. Peggy listened to it with me. (It’s hard not to share everything in our tiny home. ) I’ve always had a weakness for wandering songs. –Curt

    1. Absolutely! Do you remember Montucky? He used to post photos of his Montana buttercups blooming in the snow; they didn’t care one whit about the cold. The blue-eyed grass, being in the iris family, shrugs off cold, too. It’s great to see them emerging.

        1. He still posts to Flickr from time to time; that’s where I follow him now. His photos of the Montana lakes and mountains–especially the larch trees in fall–always make me want to head to Montana right away.

    1. Nature’s garden is beginning to bloom! We’re already warming — no freezing temperatures here tonight, and we’ll be back to the 50s tomorrow. I’ll sweep the patio, haul the plants back outside, have a second cup of coffee, and find something to do in the sunshine!

  5. After these last two days, the few flowers I had are kaput! But they’ll return soon, I hope. Love your little spring beauties and that hoverfly shot is wonderful.

    1. It must be frustrating to lose those first flowers, although I suppose we can count as a blessing that we missed a repeat of last year. With a full week of increasing warmth ahead, I’d be surprised if you didn’t see a quick recovery; I hope you do. The cold-loving natives will be fine, and our strawberry farm will open for picking tomorrow of Monday. Nature may have been slowed, but she wasn’t stopped!

  6. I discovered blue eyed grass, growing in the gravel beside the road just down from me, last summer. I was able to dig some up (it would have been mowed down by the county at some point) and planted it in the gravel, along the path to my back door, where it seemed to grow quite well for the rest of the year. Hoping for some of those blue flowers in a few months – after the feet of snow covering them now melts away.

    1. All of the species seem to be tolerant of a wide variety of conditions. I’ve seen ours growing in gravel, too. In fact, one year a huge patch took over the ground at one of those electric substations. It was funny to see all the machinery, chainlink fence, and warning signs surrounded by pretty blue flowers. I’m glad yours thrived for you. I’ve come to consider the flowers a nice substitute for the wild violets we don’t have.

    1. One nice thing about all the blue-eyed grass species is that their color can vary from very light blue to nearly — well, whatever that pure, dark lavender-blue is called. Even a single patch of them can remind me of yarn that has various shades in the same skein.

    1. Thanks, Derrick. The landscaping flowers around town (pansies, snapdragons, and so on) have carried on nicely, but it’s still fun to see the natives beginning to appear.

  7. Thank you for a reminder that Nature’s calendar will always be right on schedule, no matter what we humans might think.

    Small, colorful precursors to Spring! Beautifully photographed.
    We’re starting to see similar bright spots indicating our “brown season” will soon be bursting with color!

    Looks like your coming week will be cool but pleasant. Glad the really cold stuff didn’t last long.

    1. The freeze cloth’s been folded and put away. With luck, it won’t come out again until next winter. While I’m more than ready for these spring flowers, I found a good bit of interest on my February 1 visit to ‘Walden West’ (published soon). The absence of colorful flowers that draw the eye help trees and vines take center stage — not to mention tiny creatures that lurk around even in the cold. It’s akin to driving through Kansas, or the Texas Panhandle: no matter what we think, there’s always something to see.

  8. What gorgeous colors!! Your plants are so fortunate to be on the cusp of Spring. Contrast that with ours, which are in deep hibernation for several more months. People, too, I suppose, are starting to get out and about while we’ve been house-bound for much of this week. It makes sense to me to choose wisely where one lives, especially in this age of working remotely!

    1. Well — unless a person doesn’t work remotely. It would be darned hard for me to make a living varnishing boats in the middle of Nebraska: or so it seems. Still, I take your point, and so do the thousands of people who have been heading to Florida, Texas, and Arizona. There’s more reason than weather for that, of course. Suffice it to say I’m very glad to live where I do; the flowers are lagniappe!

    1. I’d not noticed the pinwheel resemblance, but there it is. Good eye! I suspect you also had the experience of making pinwheels from construction paper and dowel rods. Those were the days of hands-on fun, like mosaics made with differently-colored beans. Let’s see: bean artistry, or isolation behind a headset with Zuck and friends setting the agenda? I’ll take reality every time — including these entirely real flowers.

  9. Thanks for posting something to lighten up the gloom we’re having here at the moment. It’s grey, it’s wet, it’s windy and it’s cold. Well, chilly, temperature-wise (44F) but the wet and wind make it feel much colder.

    Those early spring blossoms really lift the spirits!

    1. Our roller-coaster weather’s in full force. These were out just before our recent freeze. I’m not sure how they’d be looking now, but on the other hand, we were back into the 60s today (!) with full sunshine, and it’s projected to be that way the rest of the week. I suspect there will be a quick recovery. I did haul the plants back outside, and I’m thinking of giving them their spring pruning. They’d be safe the rest of this week for sure, and post-pruning they’d be easier to get inside again if it was necessary.

      1. We’re still grey today and sitting on 48F.

        I hauled my potted plants back outside this past weekend. I am crossing my fingers I don’t have to haul them back in again, before it’s all said and done.

        While in the house for the cold, my jade plant bloomed! I’ve never seen one bloom before. It still has clusters of tiny white flowers all over.

        1. I’ve never seen a Jade plant bloom. In fact, I only learned a couple of months ago that they could produce those masses of flowers. Lucky you!

          I thought of you today when I was putting together my February ‘Walden West’ post. It’s got some nice palmetto photos, and the cutest photo ever of a green frog on one of the plants.

  10. I’m looking forward to your Spring as we meander through a few more months of winter (yes meteorological Spring is March 1, and the calendar says its March 20th, but winter weather continues through March and occasionally into April. I’ve made a few snowy images in he first month of Spring. So your imminent image harvest has me envious.

    1. I’m sure looking forward to sharing my February 1 “Walden West” post. There were a couple of wonderful discoveries — neither of which was a flower. (I found a frog at last!) It was such a relief to be able to work today without layers and layers of clothing. There’s something flat discouraging about putting long underwear over long underwear, and I’m just not as productive when I have to force myself to stay out. Sometimes, I don’t — but that affects the bottom line, so I try to tough it out. But today? I think I mentioned we edged into the sixties, and tonight I heard doves cooing. Silly birds! It’s a little too early, but they’re probably as eager as we are for the season to change.

      1. Oh, I am glad that your weather moderated and you can work comfortably and not dressed like a kindergartener on her way to school in the middle of an Iowa winter. And even better that you heard the sounds of approaching Spring!

  11. I just love the bright and vibrant colors of spring and these photos are perfect examples of that. I don’t expect to see any of that here for at least another month or more, but I look forward to it. Thankfully, I’ll have your photos to brighten my mood until I can find some flowers of my own. :-)

    1. One of the best things about our spring flowers is that they appear early, and resist any attempt by winter to beat them back. I found more of the buttercups at my ‘Walden Pond,’ and even today, after several days of below freezing nights, there are vacant lots and yards filled with them. They’re immensely cheering — no doubt!

  12. Since I just read your winter poem on The Task at Hand, this post was MOST welcome! We have some daffodils that are making their way to blooming. They seem to take FOREVER from the first slight swell of potential bloom until we actually get to see the yellow.

    1. Daffodils tend to bloom a bit north of me; I think we’re too warm even for them. Houston can get tulips to bloom, but from what I’ve read, those require a good bit of effort and babying, too. Despite our few days of below freezing temperatures, the buttercups are doing just fine. They seem to love the cold weather, and it’s so cheering to see them — just like your daffs!

    1. I’ve only seen these on one stretch of a county road, and that stretch was only about 30′ long. In 2020, they were thick by now, but I think last year’s freeze affected a lot of plants in one way or another: they’re early earlier than usual, or later, or more prolific. These are among my favorites; I’m eager to see more.

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