Springtime in Texas brings thoughts of Bluebonnets, Indian Blankets and Paintbrushes, but in times of drought and especially way out here on the edge of the Texas Plains, sometimes you have to set aside these thoughts and use your imagination to find those wildflowers that always show up at Springtime, rain or no rain. Stop thinking Sticker Weed and think instead Prairie Phlox, and you’ll find beautiful blooms blossoming all over the place.
wander and ramble
There may not be any truer old saying than “one’s weed is another’s flower.” I recently watched a neighbor dig up Prairie Verbena that had naturally grown up in the flowerbed and replace it with topical hibiscus which has since withered up in the chilly March mornings. Prairie Verbena with tiny lavender flowers carpets the back garden, giving us all hope that Spring is on its way after an extremely harsh winter. Two more examples of the old saying can be found in my photographs of White Prickly Poppy, and actually unbelievably, Indian Blanket.
bubbling up from laughter
One lone stalk of White Prickly Poppy bloomed each year up the road and down the lane near the goats. And each year it was cut down, only to re-bloom later in the summer. So since the poppy refused to succumb to the mower, it was dug up and there is no more White Prickly Poppy down by the goats anymore. Similarly, Indian Blankets bloomed in a field near the livestock pens, providing a nice shock of color mixed in with all the tumbleweeds. One morning I photographed these flowers. By that afternoon, they had been mowed flat. However, for some odd reason un-understandable to me, the tumbleweeds have been left untouched. One of the photographs taken that morning has since been exhibited in Austin in a showed entitled “What Texas Means to Me.”
West Texas wildflowers that have commonly been mistaken for weeds include those mentioned above but also Brown Bitterweed, Buffalo Bur, Prairie Coneflowers, Tahoka Daisies, and many, many more. Aside from the alleyways and empty fields in town, where else nearby can we go hunting for the wildflower?
Huddle In Yellow
I look for abandoned farmhouses and old dirt roads that haven’t been traveled in a hundred years. There are dangers to this practice, however. One is that we may be trespassing on someone’s property, so we need to always check for “No Trespassing” signs and abide by them. If there is a new house nearby, we can ask for their permission. More times than not, we get it without any problems. Another danger includes snakes, scorpions and other poisonous creatures who find old farmhouses excellent residences. We need to be careful and watchful, listen for warning rattles and rustling in the grasses, and look before stepping over rocks and holes in floorboards.
Two-lane highways supply another hotspot for wildflowers. The road to Buffalo Springs Lake is one of my favorites. This is where I found the Hog Potato, of course not knowing that such a thing as a Hog Potato existed or that the road to Buffalo Springs Lake is one of the few places on earth to find the Hog Potato. On the two-lane highway, we find a place to pull over, put on the flashers, and have no worries about trespassing so long as we don’t jump any fences. All we have to be is mindful of the creatures and the traffic whizzing by.
Tale of Perseverance
So despite my title, we really do not have to quietly go hunting for wildflowers or travel six hours to the Hill Country. All we really have to is look down and open our eyes. The Wildflowers are all around us and have always been so.