The First of Many


Perhaps no flower signals the arrival of Spring in Texas more than the bluebonnet. The sleek electric blue buds of this single flower, found at the Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge on March 20, were especially appealing. In time, bluebonnet species will cover our landscape with a variety of blues, but this single flower seemed a perfect harbinger of the beauty to come.

Over the weekend, I discovered other members of Texas’s spring floral trinity — Indian Paintbrush and Pink Evening Primrose — but it seemed appropriate to give this iconic Texas flower pride of place: saving paintbrush and primrose for another day.


Comments always are welcome.

67 thoughts on “The First of Many

    1. There already are a few patches of these in some familiar spots, particularly one local highway underpass that always seems to have them first. Still, it’s great fun to find the early ones in unexpected places, and this one was so gloriously blue it made my day.

  1. Was this the sole bluebonnet you found there? Three days ago in Bastrop we saw some bluebonnets and paintbrushes in the median of TX 21. The groups were sparse and the individual plants rather short. While no pink evening primrose has yet crossed my sight this year, yesterday I found some scattered stemless evening primroses, Oenothera triloba, which unfortunately doesn’t grow in your area.

    1. There was one other bluebonnet, some distance away, which already had become faded and somewhat tattered.

      Paintbrush were all along the roads. They’re still scattered, but there wasn’t a road where I didn’t see at least some, and there were a few in the refuges. The vetch (Vicia ludoviciana ) is thick now, and the fleabane is appearing. I saw several individual “firsts,” like two blue flags and two Sagittaria latifolia, one blooming and one in bud. The Packera glabella has just exploded; again, it’s not dense, but it’s everywhere. I found several flowers that were new to me, and that was fun.

      I do hope we get some good rain out of the system that’s due here in the next day or so. I think a good rain will bring out even more flowers.

    1. I was surprised to find this one, just sitting in the middle of an expanse of still-brown grasses. I’ll say this — it stood out! It’s raining here now, and I hope we get a full day of rain without any damaging storms tonight. Everything I saw this weekend looked pretty dry; I expect an inch or two of rain will make quite a difference.

      1. We are just damp here. I have been digging in my garden and it is really dry, so I’m looking forward to some rain and rest as it forces me to be inside. Wednesday will be weeding day with nice wet soil.

  2. I’m sure that they are out in both the national and state parks here, but the Spring Breakers are out “in force” this year, so we’ve not ventured away from home this month. Glad to see some early bloomers in your area.

    1. I’ve been wanting to check out areas on the west end of Galveston Island and along the Blue Water Highway between Galveston and Surfside, but spring break isn’t the time to do that, either. This weekend I choose Attwater and San Bernard precisely because they’re off the beaten path. Today, the schools are back in session, and it’s raining, so maybe I’ll go to the beach.

  3. Coming back after a week in the Florida panhandle where spring was slowly starting there as well. Saw several different lupines and am ready for real spring here!

    1. I get the iNat updates, and when I looked at your posts, I thought “Wait. What?” So I explored a little more and figured out where you were — what a great trip for you! I have a feeling that the rain that’s coming will really help things ‘spring forth.’ It’s going to be such a great season!

    1. I found some other pretties, too, but I so loved this bluebonnet I decided to show it by itself. We joke about having a Texas trinity in spring: bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and pink evening primrose. The other two will come along later — they remind me of all the spring colors in your newly decorated place!

  4. I hope we’ll get to see at least some this year. So far, it seems to have been too cold and, most of all, too dry. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

    1. I was hoping you’d get some rain out of the system that’s developing, but I see you only have a 30% chance tonight. Still, that’s better than nothing. It’s dry here, too, and we’re hoping for rain. With a nice watering, the flowers should bloom beautifully.

  5. I haven’t seen any bluebonnets blooming here in Austin yet, but my Mt. Laurels have blooms this year! Yay–they were devastated last year after the freeze.

    That’s a lovely photo–I’m sure there will be more to come!

    1. Hearing about your mountain laurels makes me happy! Maybe my friend in Kerrville will get some blooms this year, too. Who doesn’t love the smell of bubblegum? The bluebonnets really haven’t made much of an appearance here, yet. There are a couple of underpasses where they’re spreading; I suppose because of extra warmth from traffic combined with a southern exposure. But they’re coming — and you should see the Packera glabella! There are places where they’re really spreading along the roads. They’re such a cheerful yellow.

  6. Woo-Hoo, they’re back!! I don’t guess I’ll ever forget traveling the road between Denton and Dallas (for some sort of conference) and seeing acres of bluebonnets. Such a magnificent sight! Makes me wish we could grow them here.

    1. When they fill the fields, there’s nothing like them. The only thing better for me is a 50/50 combination of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush that turns the fields purple. Things seem to be slow this year, but everyone’s hoping that last year’s freeze only slows things down, and doesn’t mean a sparse year for them.

    1. We all hope so. A lot of trees and shrubs have acted a little strangely after our freeze last February; it seems to me that everything is late this year. When I look at my photos from 2019, I hardly can believe it. That was a banner year — I’d never seen such flowers.

  7. That is such an intense blue on that bluebonnet. Mine aren’t that dark. I even have some that tend to lavender. I wonder if it’s the soil. There’s a small clump of paintbrush along the street at the corner and I saw the first three primrose blooms in my yard yesterday.

    1. Isn’t that color something? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a shade on a bluebonnet. You can believe it stood out where I found it — in the midst of dry grass. I think soil does make a difference, and the amount of rain they get, but there could be species differences, too. I’ve noticed the same thing with Indian paintbrush this year. The earlier ones were a lighter color, but last weekend I found some that were such a vibrant and deep orange-red: really pretty.

  8. The sisters and their friend who built the first duplex I lived in evidently had quite a stand of bluebonnets in the back yard. Even quite a few years later I still got the occasional volunteer. The seeds are large-ish, and folk-wisdom advises that you run them down a metal file a time or two before you plant them as the seed case is quite robust. Doing so means they’ll come up this year, instead of three or four years down the line.

    1. That’s not just folk wisdom about the metal file and the seeds. I learned that the word for it’s scarifying, and there’s a good page about it on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site. Apparently it works so well you need to have the right conditions ready for the plants — i.e., not in the middle of a drought — since they’ll start germinating quickly. I noticed that sandpaper can be used, too. That means I’m well equipped to do a little scarifying: I’ve got just about every grit possible.

    1. Then I’m glad one of the first spring babies I found was one of your favorite colors! I’ll see if I can find some differently shaped blue for you!

    1. Thanks, Liz. Quite apart from that brilliant color, I was entranced by the silky feel of the buds. They looked like they were made of satin — just beautiful.

  9. Glorious photo! I love that you have focused on one. A couple of weeks ago I saw some by the highway near Callan. Need to take another drive to see more wildflowers. Yea for spring!

    1. Paying attention to one plant can be very rewarding! I have another post coming up soon that does just that. Are you seeing a “purple haze” along the edge of your highways yet? It’s deer pea vetch, and the tiny flowers are hard to see just looking at a patch. There’s just a sense of ‘seeing purple.’ But take a photo of an individual flower, and they’re gorgeous. They came out here literally in one day. On Sunday morning, there might have been a few around, but by Sunday evening, they were thick. Yea for Spring, indeed!

    1. They’re a big deal around here. Artisans and craftspeople put them on everything.People paint them, and photograph them, and go driving around to see them. They’re our spring icon!

  10. There are some beautiful blues in this flower. Is this one that typically grows alone, in small clusters, or in large groupings? I can imagine a small field of this shade of blue, would be quite a sight.

    1. The answer to your question is, “Yes.” Early flowers tend to pop up individually or in small groups. Then, as the season goes on, they begin to take over the landscape. There are several species, all of which are considered our state flower. Their colors do vary a bit, and this is the most ‘electric blue’ I’ve ever seen. You can get a sense of what they look like in their prime here. I’ve never been able to quite capture their sheer magnificence.

  11. It would be hard to find a more iconic harbinger of Spring in Texas than the Bluebonnet!

    We really miss driving through the Hill Country backroads filled with waves of color around each bend.

    Thank you for the colorful motivation to head outside!

    1. I’d love to get out to the Big Bend area sometime and see their bluebonnets — Lupinus havardii . They can grow one to three feet tall — what a sight that would be! I love that the legislature finally got smart and designated all the bluebonnet species as our state flower: including any new species that might be discovered in the future!

      By the way — I went to the Attwater Preserve last weekend, and in the lake there I saw a few lily pads flipped up and reflecting the light just like the ones that caught my eye in your photo of Lake Godwin.

    1. Some will be thriving a little better; we had some nice rain in the past 24 hours, and I’m sure all the plants are happy. It wasn’t a drought buster, but a solid inch was pretty widespread, and we’re all grateful.

      1. So we were on 290 out in the Hempstead Tx area. There are some small spots here and there. But we just had a lot of rain and now lots of sunshine, so I’m betting more will be popping up very soon!

    1. That’s a good song, but my absolute favorite is the one I included in a post about the bluebonnets and such around Sublime, Texas. I didn’t check to see if you’d commented, but I think you’ll like the song. The highway mentioned in it is Highway 90 — the very one from which I took the photos. I must have turned into a for-real Texan, because every time I hear the song, I can’t help shedding a happy tear or two.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sort of lupines that grow in your area. I know there are some that are acclimated to mountain regions; perhaps you’ll share a photo or two of yours. I’m so eager for our fields to fill with flowers; I hope they do. It’s been an odd year, so things may not be as lush as in the past.

  12. Bluebonnets are the bomb, so to speak. Such deep rich blue. I planted some bluebells in the yard, hope they come back, but they are not as richly colored as your bonnets. I’d love to see one of your densely flowered bluebonnet meadows some day.

    1. I’ve never seen this shade of blue on a bluebonnet; I was completely entranced. Eliza wants to see bluebonnet fields, too. Maybe the Massachusetts crew could make pilgrimage together some day!

    1. Around here, we not only have bluebonnet paintings, we have bluebonnet potholders, teapots, kitchen towels, coasters, mugs, aprons, soaps, lotions — and one old VW Bug that’s got the prettiest bluebonnets you’ve ever seen blooming all around. There’s great art, and great kitsch — but the flowers themselves beat all.

    1. It is, although I’ve never seen a field of bluebonnets as intensely blue as this single flower. There can be quite a range of shades, but generally speaking they’re a softer blue. When you see them stretched across the landscape, it doesn’t make a bit of difference, of course. They’re still impressive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.