Opening Day

Downy Phlox (Phlox pilosa) ~ Rockport Cemetery
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.
      ~ Anaïs Nin
Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) ~ Highway west of Midfield, Texas
Winecup (Callirhoe involucrata) ~ Fannin Monument, Goliad, Texas
Winecup (Callirhoe involucrata) ~ La Bahia Cemetery, Goliad, Texas


Comments always are welcome.

Pink, You Say?

Indian Paintbrush ~ Castilleja indivisa

Texas bluebonnets often are accompanied by Indian paintbrush: a gorgeous red-to-orange flower that perfectly compliments the bluebonnets’ color.

Sources affirm that the flowers sometimes produce white or yellow variants, but on the morning of March 4, I discovered one sporting pink bracts: the modified leaves surrounding the actual flowers. Not only was the paintbrush fresh and undamaged, it also provided a nice look at its flowers emerging from among the bracts.

That same weekend, another treat was waiting, tucked into this field.

Amid the sea of blue, a bit of pink was growing: a young Texas bluebonnet that for one reason or another had emerged in a different color.

Texas Bluebonnet ~ Lupinus texensis

Because the flower was behind a fence and some distance away, I put my telephoto lens to work, sticking it through the wires for a better look at the little anomaly.

Pondering the images later, it occurred to me that the flower was a young one, and still developing. I couldn’t help myself. Five days later, I returned to the field on a hunch, and was rewarded by the sight of the same flower: now more fully opened, and as pretty as any pink flower I’ve ever seen.


Comments always are welcome.

Pink, Pinker, Pinkiest

Eager for spring’s bold primary colors — Bluebonnets, red Indian Paintbrush, yellow Buttercups and Butterweed — it can be easy to overlook the season’s  pastels. Pink, lavender, and white flowers are blooming, emerging, or already fading. It’s time to catch them, before they’re gone.

Ten-petal anemone ~ Anemone berlandieri
Brazoria Wildlife Refuge

For years, I found only white ten-petal anemones at the Brazoria refuge. This year, to my great delight, a large colony of pink-tinged flowers appeared. The common name for this member of the buttercup family is doubly misleading, since the plant has sepals rather than petals, and the number of sepals varies widely. Some flowers have as few as six or seven sepals, while others may have more than twenty.

Like other Anemone species, this Texas native sometimes goes by the name ‘windflower.’ As with dandelions, its seeds are spread by the wind, and many already have gone to seed.

Carolina Geranium ~ Geranium carolinianum
Follett’s Island, Brazoria County

Having been raised with big, red geraniums that spent their lives in pots, meeting the Carolina Geranium — another member of the Cranesbill family — was quite a surprise. Its flowers are only 1/4″ to 3/8″ across, and the plant itself rarely exceeds a foot in height. Where it’s allowed to flourish, it blooms prolifically, and attracts a variety of small bees, flies, and other insects.

Pink evening primrose ~ Oenothera speciosa
Vacant League City lot

When I photographed this pretty pink primrose near my home, it was the first I’d seen in this spring season. Today, small clusters of the flowers have appeared in unmown spots around town; before long, they’ll be covering fields and ditches with a lovely mixture of pink and white blooms. Given their enthusiastic spread and their ability to leave great swaths of land ‘in the pink,’ it’s easy to think of them as the ‘pinkiest’ of our spring wildflowers.

Comments always are welcome.

A Sweet & Sour Flower

Slender Yellow Woodsorrel ~ Oxalis dillenii

As I left Walden West, the last flower I encountered was the Violet Woodsorrel (Oxalis violacea). Not long after, I discovered a few Slender Yellow Woodsorrels at the Laffite’s Cove Nature Preserve on Galveston Island. One of several native pink and yellow Oxalis species that can be found in Texas, they’re among our earliest-blooming spring flowers.

Derived from the Greek word for ‘acid,’ Oxalis sometimes is translated as ‘sour.’ Both the leaves and flowers have a somewhat sour taste because of the oxalic acid they contain, but in small quantities they’re not toxic to humans, and often are included in salads.

On a sweeter note, the leaves surrounding the small, half-inch flowers are divided into three heart-shaped leaflets perfect for a Valentine’s Day bouquet, and various insects, like this hoverfly, clearly enjoy finding a sweet spring treat.


Comments always are welcome.

Not Every Bonnet is Blue

Horticultural specialists like Jerry Patterson have spent years developing new bluebonnet colors — especially white, lavender, and maroon — but their work is based on the  natural color variations that show up from time to time in Texas fields.

Over the past decade, I’ve found at least one white and one yellow bluebonnet each year during the plant’s season, but until last weekend I never had found the nearly-mythical pink bluebonnet, and never expected to see one. Yet there it was: blooming at the edge of Farm to Market Road 532 between Moravia and Moulton.

Over time, legends developed around this rare flower, including the claim that its color reflected the blood that flowed from the Battle of the Alamo. In fact, Jerry Patterson himself once said that the only native pink bluebonnets he’d ever found grew south of San Antonio, near the river. Perhaps that’s still true for Patterson, but this gem was blooming well east of San Antonio, and nowhere near a river.

Legends aside, the flower’s presence on that mid-April morning brought to mind a favorite poem. Written by Amherst resident Robert Francis, “Bouquet” is perfectly suited to celebrate the whisper of a single pink bluebonnet nearly lost in a babble of blue.


One flower at a time, please,
however small the face.
Two flowers are one flower
too many, a distraction.
Three flowers in a vase begin
to be a little noisy.
Like cocktail conversation,
everybody talking.
A crowd of flowers is a crowd
of flatterers (forgive me).
One flower at a time.  I want
to hear what it is saying.
                                        “Bouquet” ~ Robert Francis


Comments always are welcome.