Denny Schrock

everything’s better with bluebonnets

I spent last week in the Hill Country of Texas in and around Fredericksburg in Gillespie County in search of wildflowers, as well as beautiful gardens and culinary delights, all part of a press tour arranged by Geiger and Associates and the Fredericksburg Convention & Visitor Bureau. This part of Texas is renowned for its springtime fields of bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), the state flower. Sadly, the extreme drought plaguing the region this year has diminished the show. But I still found plenty of gorgeous flowers to enjoy.

The close up shot of a bluebonnet, at left, was taken in the garden at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm where I stayed two nights in one of their delightful Sunday house cottage replicas. I didn’t indulge in one of their spa treatments, but did partake of a delicious salad sampler lunch in their restaurant. Owners Rosemary and Dick Estenson made certain that I was taken care of well.

One area attraction that was a must-see on my list was Wildseed Farms, the largest wild seed producer in the nation, and host to more than 300,000 visitors yearly. In addition to wildflower display gardens, John Thomas and his staff offer a great selection of landscape plants, gift items, and an on-site restaurant called the Brewbonnet Biergarten, where we had lunch.

Field of pink primroses at Wildseed Farms

Claret cup cactus blooming in display gardens at Wildseed Farms.

One bit of trivia: Not all bluebonnets are blue! Color can vary from pure white to pink to blue to near maroon. Wildseed Farms carries ‘Alamo Fire’ maroon bluebonnet in their online catalog, and has white forms of the plant on display.

The best display of bluebonnets that I saw, however, was at Torre de Pietra Vineyards, one stop on an afternoon Texas Winery tour that included Pedernales Cellars.

Bluebonnets at Torre di Pietra Vineyards

Hinckley's golden columbine

Wildflowers could show up almost anywhere in Fredericksburg. The Hinckley’s golden columbine pictured in this post was right in the middle of town next to the Vereins Kirche, a symbol of the town’s German Heritage, and an extension of the Pioneer Museum. Just down Main Street at the main site of the museum, I spotted some brilliant orange Indian paint brushes on the grounds surrounding the historical buildings on display.

Indian paintbrush at the Fredericksburg Pioneer Museum

Spiderwort growing in a crack at Enchanted Rock

One morning I took a trip to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. This granite outcropping provides fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, but an inhospitable substrate for plant growth. But as you can see at right, some determined plants take root in cracks and crevices, providing color in this harsh environment. For those searching for wildflowers at the park, you’ll have better luck by taking the loop trail around the rock.

I have several seedlings of bluebonnets growing in my greenhouse at home. I’ll plant them in the garden this spring and fondly remember the Texas Hill Country when they send up their fragrant blue and white spires.