Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


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.

Looking for a big-impact, low-care perennial for your landscape? Try baptisia!

Also called false indigo, baptisia is North American native plant that bursts into bloom in late spring/early summer — usually about the same time as the peonies, Siberian iris, and ‘Globemaster’ alliums.

Here are some things to love about baptisia:

  • Deer and rabbits leave it alone (at least that’s always been my experience).
  • The lovely blue-green foliage looks great from spring to fall.
  • It tolerates heat and drought like a champion.
  • The seedpods, which start chartreuse and eventually turn charcoal-black, are fun decorations!
  • It comes in a range of colors (from dark purple Twilite Prairieblues to silvery Starlight Prairieblues to golden ‘Carolina Moonlight’).
  • It’s not too fast growing (so you don’t need to worry about it taking over your garden like you do some native prairie plants).

If you try baptisia out, be sure to give it plenty of room. The plant usually looks really small and scrawny in pots at the garden center, but within three or four years, they can mature into stunning 4-foot-wide mounds.

HepaticaBlogI celebrate two flowers on March 30th every year. On this date, without fail, Hepatica blooms in my yard. One of the earliest woodland wildflowers to emerge in spring, its tiny cup-shape purple, pink, or white flowers grow just 6 inches tall, often appearing before the foliage unfurls. This native is so delicate in stature that its arrival each year often brings me to my knees for a close-up view. Unlike woodland ephemerals that die back to the ground after they bloom – such as spring beauty, Dutchman’s breeches, and Virginia bluebells – the heart-shape, three-lobe leaves of Hepatica keep growing during the spring and summer months. My little clump never requires attention other than my yearly gestures of appreciation. The leaves that drop on the plants in autumn act as both blanket and nourishment.

The other flower I rejoice on March 30 requires a little more upkeep. On this day 14 years ago, my daughter Jayne came into the world. Jayne’s birth was every bit a miracle for me as Spring’s rebirth is each year. She’s a beautiful bloom in her mother’s eyes.

Welcome back, Hepatica. And happy birthday, Jayne.

Jayne's interest in gardening began when she was just two.

Jayne's interest in gardening began when she was just two.

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