Rockport Texas in My Rear View Mirror


Spring arrives early in Texas, but circumstances — including my own inattention — meant my annual visit to the Rockport cemetery was late, and many of the flowers already had faded. Some were producing seed, although a lack of rain seemed to have diminished their numbers.

That said, many individual flowers were fresh and beautiful: ready to show off for someone who was a little late to the show.

Very little compares to a field of bluebonnets, but even a single flower can shine.

Texas bluebonnet ~ Lupinus texensis

Like yellow star grass (Hypoxis hirsuta), wolly globemallow has delightfully fuzzy buds, stems, and leaves. A true Texas endemic, it thrives in the sandy conditions of south Texas, especially near the coast. In the Rockport cemetery, it emerges in the same spot every year.

Wolly globemallow ~ Sphaeralcea lindheimeri

Another lover of sandy soil, Texas toadflax can be found from east Texas to Galveston Island; I’ve found it as far west as the area south of San Antonio. Because of the long ‘spur’ that extends from the flower, it’s sometimes confused with larkspur.

Texas toadflax ~ Nuttallanthus texanus

Every stage of the beautiful winecup, or purple poppy-mallow, is worth recording. It’s buds are especially pleasing, but who could resist this color?

Winecup ~ Callirhoe involucrata

A new flower always is a delight. This year at Rockport, it was a pretty, though non-native, species known as annual wall-rocket. Native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, it may have arrived here in ships’ ballast. A member of the mustard family, this lover of disturbed ground is edible; its leaves are said to make a fine addition to a salad.

Annual wall-rocket ~ Diplotaxis muralis

The small flowers of Drummond’s skullcap attract a variety of pollinators, including small bees and butterflies. The polka-dotted ‘landing pad’ seems perfectly designed to attract a pollinator’s attention, and the plant’s drought resistance makes it a good choice for xeriscaping.

Drummond’s skullcap ~ Scutellaria drummondii

Assorted coreopsis filled the cemetery, their numbers rivaling those of the bluebonnets. By early March, some already were completing their life cycle, providing striking images like this single ray flower in the process of decline. Because it’s the practice at this cemetery to forgo mowing until after wildflower season, their seed also will help to guarantee next season’s blooms.

Plains coreopsis ~ Coreopsis tinctoria

Comments always are welcome.
For those unfamiliar with the source of the title, give a listen here.

83 thoughts on “Rockport Texas in My Rear View Mirror

    1. Thank you! That’s one of my favorite songs; I suspect it touches on a familiar experience. I certainly think of my home town with more affection now than I did several decades ago. Beyond that, it’s a good reminder that beauty often is ‘right here’ rather than ‘out there.’

    1. Metaphorically, that winecup also could be the ‘cup o’ kindness’ that Robert Burns referenced in “Auld Lang Syne.” It certainly seems ready to offer a toast to the dear departed. When these fade, they often fold their petals inward, forming a pinwheel, but I couldn’t find one nice enough to pair with this one.

    1. Yes! I was so mad to see some death camas mowed down at one I’d only visited a few weeks prior. I went back to take better photos and they were gone! I get the need for upkeep but there are periods to let things go just a smidge!

    2. Isn’t that the truth? There is a movement in England to promote chuch graveyards as ‘little meadows,’ with grasses and forbs allowed to grow and bloom. There’s an organization called Caring for God’s Acre that produced this marvelous video. We should follow their example.

  1. What a lovely series of flower images. Makes my day to see your wildflowers in bloom on the other side of the world. The wall-rocket and globemallow images are particularly impressive.
    Autumn is well and truly here where I live in Melbourne, Australia, but still some colour left over from Summer.

    1. At first, I thought the wall-rocket was a form of primrose, but this time I’d taken enough photos of the leaves and such to be able to sort it out. It is a pretty thing. Now I’m curious about the taste of those leaves. As for the globemallow, I do love a fuzzy plant, and that one certainly qualifies. I’m happy you enjoyed it, too. Here’s to a mellow and colorful autumn for you!

    1. This is one of my favorite cemeteries. In 2019, it had its own form of a superbloom, and it was hard to believe the number and variety of species. Freezes and drought have affected things, but next year could be just as beautiful. I’m pleased you like the Coreopsis photo. I like finding attractively fading flowers, as well as bare seed heads; I thought this one especially appealing

    1. There’s a veritable rainbow of colors, isn’t there? Sometimes disappointment can tempt — “It’s not as great as it was then” — but a little looking around usually reveals the folly of that sort of thinking.

  2. These are all stunners, Linda. But that winecup, the wall rocket and Drummond’s skull cap especially knock my socks off. You may have been late but I don’t know you were disappointed!

    1. I’m especially glad you like the wall-rocket, Jeanie. Believe it or not, that was the hardest one to photograph. They were growing low, and tangled up with other plants — but I’ve learned to take plenty of photos, cull the bad ones, and enjoy the one that makes the cut!

  3. a beautiful selection. I had a winecup in a pot that lasted for several years before it wore itself out. I do love the toadflax. every year I think to myself to get some seed for next spring but I never remember.

    1. There was a spot in this cemetery where the winecups and toadflax were growing together. The toadflax was about gone, but in its prime, the combination would have been something to see. I do enjoy toadflax in combination with other flowers; they’re especially nice with bluebonnets, phlox, or butterweed.

  4. This photographic harvest proves you weren’t too late to the floral show in the cemetery after all. Good for the enlightened caretakers of the Rockport Cemetery for letting the spring wildflowers run their course before mowing.

    1. From what I’ve been told, the same struggle goes on there between those who favor flowers and those who see anything not in full bloom as ‘untidy.’ It seems the best thing that happened to the Rockport cemetery is that it became such a tourist draw it now has the Chamber of Commerce on its side: never a bad thing when it comes to preservation.

    1. It’s silly that I didn’t notice it until right now, but each of these flowers has a distinctive shape as well as impressive color. I do love a mixed bouquet, and that’s what this cemetery offers — on a large scale.

  5. Beautiful close-ups of all of these wildflowers. Kudos for the cemetery for allowing these to re-seed. Lots of places (ahem, talking about YOU city of Austin!) could learn a thing or two!

    1. I seem to remember a globe mallow in your garden — is that right? I think it’s an adorable little flower; it tickles me that I can walk right to its ‘patch’ at Rockport. In the past, there have been some idiosyncratic snowdrops and daffodils very near to them, but I was too late to find them this year.

      I mentioned to Steve that one thing that’s helped allow the flowers to flourish is their status as a tourist draw. They’re well publicized in local newspapers and websites: Corpus, Victoria, San Antonio. With official Rockport standing up for them, the “let’s go mow” folks apparently get outvoted.

    1. Sometimes, people do the right thing. It’s worth noting that other cemeteries who’ve seen this one’s beauty — and ability to draw tourists to the town — have followed along. It’s possible to travel from cemetery to cemetery in a large part of the state during wildflower season, and see similar sights.

  6. The annual wall-rocket is lovely! Interesting how it may have gotten here. And I still have not gotten to the Rockport cemetery at spring and I like visiting cemeteries. Maybe next year.

    1. Next year, I’ll remind you — and remind myself to get a move on a little earlier! The wall-rocket was an interesting discovery; it thrives in dry, sandy, and rocky places, and apparently will grow in walls, which gave it the common name. I found a British site that mentions it’s also known as wild arugula and is used in Mediterranean cuisine for its spicy taste.

  7. Beautiful flowers from Texas, Linda. I’m always complaining to you about us not having wildflowers around here because we have very few empty lots. I stand corrected. On our way to see my in-laws, it appears someone spread seeds on the shoulder of the Florida Turnpike! I took a double-take seeing them for about half a mile!!

    1. Lookie here! I went off to see if Florida might have developed a program similar to Texas’s program, and they sure have. On the page I linked, click on the link to “photos” and you can see places from across the state where the wildflowers bloom. They’re beautiful — and the history of the program’s development is interesting, too.

      When I got down to the photos from south Florida, I learned that Coreopsis — the last flower I showed here — is your state flower. There are seventeen species, and they’re all honored, just as all our species of bluebonnets are our state flower.

    1. Non-mowing before seeding has allowed the flowers to thrive, and made a trip to this cemetery yet another spring ritual for many people. What’s amazed me over the years is the number of species that appear there. I could have expanded this post by adding Phlox, Blue Curls, several Coreopsis species, White Prickly Poppies, Larkspur, yuccas, Mexican Olive… Well, you get the point!

        1. Yes, some years are definitely better. A cold winter is good for bluebonnets, and rain is good for everything. But long term projections are tricky, and knowing ‘where’ the best flowers will show up even trickier. This year Rockport and the hill country were very dry, but there was a band of rain through Goliad and Gonzales that produced all those dewy flowers I photographed — the distance between Rockport and Goliad is only about sixty miles.

          1. It occurs to me that some of the most dependable flowers usually are north of me — up in the Austin/Brenham/central Texas area. The state’s so large that some of those areas can’t be done in a day trip (from my home), especially in spring, so I missed some of those spots this year.

  8. The colors on these are spectacular! I’m finding it hard to pick my favorite, though who doesn’t love a Texas bluebonnet? The winecup runs a close second, with the wall-rocket in third place. But that’s only if I had to choose!!

    1. The good news is we don’t have to choose. As I’ve often said, my favorite flower is the one I’m looking at. What’s really amazing is seeing all these colors combined together in one place, like the cemetery. It’s nature’s mixed bouquet, for sure!

    1. It’s often a matter of getting ‘down’ rather than getting ‘in.’ The toadflax and coreopsis had some height to them, but the others were low growers, and required sitting, kneeling, or even lying down, in the case of the winecup; the bloom was about two inches off the ground. Now and then, when I’m out in the country, people will stop to be sure I’m not injured or dead when I’m trying for the best angle on a flower. You meet the nicest law enforcement people that way!

  9. One state’s rear view mirror is another’s crystal ball–with some variations when it comes to subspecies. I hope Colorado’s wildflowers will be similarly splendid once they appear.

    1. That’s a neat transposition, Tanja ~ from rear view mirror to crystal ball. I hope your spring is flower-licious, particularly after the drab and dry winter you’ve had. I really enjoy seeing different species from the same genus in different parts of the country; I’m looking forward to yours!

    1. The variety of flowers that emerge in spring here is remarkable, and I enjoy every one. It’s always fun to see the familiar ones, but sometimes something new appears — like the wall-rocket — and my horizons get expanded a little bit more.

      1. I get excited to see flowers that I can identify by name, but it’s also fun to see and learn about new flowers. There’s an endless variety of them! Constantly learning and expanding.
        Hope you have a great weekend and take care!

        1. I was impressed when I learned that Texas has about 5,000 species of wildflowers, but I just found out that California has about 6,500 species. I’d say we both have plenty of discoveries waiting!

  10. Such beautiful flowers – I think you were well-rewarded for your visit, even if later than intended. (And you paid it back by photographing them equally beautifully.)

    1. Sometimes, experiencing a ‘super bloom,’ as I did here in 2019, can make less flowery years feel a little disappointing. Then, a change in perspective can help. It wasn’t a year for landscape photos showing masses of blooms, but individual flowers certainly convey the beauty of the place, albeit in a different way.

  11. Stunning!

    Two cups of coffee, five lingering trips through the images. You have made this day better.

    When we retired from the Air Force and left Texas for our native Florida, we bemoaned the fact that all states could not have programs for displaying wildflowers along highways. As you pointed out earlier, doggone it if Florida DID have such a program! Actually begun in 1963, it eventually took hold in the 1990’s and now over 12,000 miles of state highway has been seeded. Blooming Coreopsis in the medians in a couple spots in north Florida can be blinding at the right time.

    You may have been a bit late to the floral party but you certainly found some great party favors!

    As Mac sang toward the end of the ballad:

    “But now happiness is” …Rockport…”, Texas”!

    1. I love that — party favors! I haven’t thought of the pleasure those could bring for years; like May baskets and decorated shoe boxes for Valentine’s Day, they seem to belong to a different era. Of course, it could be I’m moving in different circles now.

      It tickled me to learn that Florida seeds their highways, and surprised me to learn your state flower is Coreopsis, with all of the species included. I wondered if other states do the same, and found that Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Tennessee have similar programs. I also came across a note that some northern states don’t do it because they can’t do it: the use of road salt in winter makes highway medians poorly suited for wildflowers.

      As for Mac’s song, there’s a moving video showing a drone view of his funeral procession set to the song here. It’s just so well done. It tickles me that it was posted by someone using the name “West Texas is the Best Texas.” I don’t know about the ‘west’ part, but it certainly shows some of the best characteristics of Texas people.

    1. It took me a minute, and a search for ‘what do punk rockers look like?’ to remember the hair. You pegged it, for sure. I would have said ‘mullet,’ but the feel is the same: fashionable to the very end!

    1. It does come close to orange sherbet orange, doesn’t it? For many years, I only knew orange as a color for tulips or day lilies. Now, I’ve added a few, including this one. The fact that it’s fuzzy only adds to its charm.

  12. Your photographs reveal the unique beauty of every plant and flower, making me see how each one is exquisite. Still, I have a favorite here, in the toadflax. Thank you, Linda!

    1. Even in a field filled with them, toadflax can seem to ‘disappear,’ given their small size, delicacy, and their propensity to mix in with other flowers. They’re one of my favorites; shown against a background of coreopsis or other yellow flowers, they’re a wonderful example of spring pastels.

  13. While admiring the blooms, and delightful images, I also admire the contortions required by the photographer.

    1. And the photographer appreciates what surely is your own experience-based admiration. I may not have the ‘best’ camera or the ‘best’ lenses, but I’ve got terrific knees and a good back!

  14. While a meadow of (mostly) one flower in bloom has beautiful impact, I really appreciate these mixed meadows of flowers coming in, and flowers going out. And the video about the natural meadows in UK graveyards had the fascinating comment that Rattlegrass was partially parasitic on grass roots, helping to maintain a balance of grass and flowers in the meadow. Reminded me of our Indian Paintbrush. Do the Paintbrush serve the same purpose in a mixed meadow?

    1. I’m not sure whether paintbrush help to keep that kind of balance. I do know that as the paintbrush fade, the grasses around them flourish. Whether there’s a causal effect in either direction (grasses overcoming paintbrush, or the fading of paintbrush allowing the grasses to grow) I can’t say. It may be that there’s no direct relationship.

      What I do know is that when that symbiotic relationship between the paintbrush and their companion plants is broken, the paintbrush die. I happened upon a spot this year where a well-meaning person had transplanted some paintbrush, and such sad flowers you’ve never seen. One of these days I’m going to post photos of them; it really was a sight.

      1. North American Native Plant Society says Paintbrush is hemiparasitic, and that plants with hosts seem more robust than plants without. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says essentially the same. All part of the web of life, I guess.

        1. I knew I’d read something about the relationship between the paintbrush and bluebonnets, and here it is. Scroll down to the section titled “Details,” and there’s similar information. There’s a reason those mixed paintbrush/bluebonnet fields can be so vibrant!

    1. I certainly was pleased to find such a pristine bluebonnet. I wondered whether a recent rain might have revitalized some of the plants, since so many bluebonnets already had faded flowers and fully-formed seed pods. As for the globemallow, every time I encounter it, I can’t help touching that fuzziness.

      1. There’s a patch of lupine I’m watching, I hope I find lupine as pretty as your bluebonnet. I had high hopes for a glade of wood poppies today, but many were faded.

        1. Of course I’ve heard the word ‘glade’ before, but I had to look it up to find an actual definition. Now I remember how often I’ve heard it paired with ‘forest,’ and know why it’s a word I use far less often than ‘marsh’ or ‘prairie.’

          1. “Glade” was just a convenient word to use. Wood poppy can bloom in profusion in the forest understory. That was the appeal of the the spot I visited yesterday – but the flowers were a little tattered.

  15. Love the Wall rocket image best of a terrific series. I like those shadows and the bee!! The grave stone would have looked sincerely lonely if not for its colorful floral company.

    1. You’re the only one who saw the bee — or, at least, the only one who commented on it. I didn’t mention it just to see if someone would pick it up, and you did! I thought the same thing about the grave stone. Do you suppose all those stones long for spring like we do, just so they can get their decoration back?

      1. If a stone could long for anything, I think it would. When it comes to cemeteries it is all for the living to feel happy a loved one or anyone is resting in a pretty spot. My ashes are going in the ocean as I’d rather any view of crashing surf or gentle swirls along the sand be a place to think of me. That way it is not tied to one place but any shore. Although Florida Bay/Southern Everglades might be nice.

        How about you…rest among the flowers or the sea?

        1. I’m not sure, but you have reminded me of a friend in Salt Lake City. Before her death from cancer, she begged her kids not to distribute her ashes in any of the surrounding lakes, including the Great Salt Lake. As she reminded them, she couldn’t swim!

          1. I totally get that! However, Great Salt Lake she might not have to fear these days. I have always been at home in the water so for a good place too dissolve into.

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