Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This year one of the best, if not the best, wildflower seasons ever. So make your plans now and spend the weekend touring the Hill Country. You don't want to miss the event of the year -- or perhaps the decade

Bluebonnets seem to thrive best in the granite soils of the area. This isn't to imply that bluebonnets won't be popping up all over the place, it's just that your best chance for the experience of a lifetime will most likely be found in these areas.

If you're new to the area you need to know that, next to hunting season, the Bluebonnet Trail is high on the Hill Country's list of things both sacred and secular. If you live in this neck of the woods, no matter your line of work, your well-being (sooner or later) hinges on these annual events, and both depend on the weather.
       Bluebonnets are finicky. Kinda demanding in a needy sorta way. To really be at their best they'll need a good rain and hard freeze in the Winter to crack their thick shelled seeds. Snow is even better but you have better odds on a finding two needles in a haystack. Early Spring has to follow up with a few good rains. When all needs are met the landscape is a natural cathedral. And all along the roadsides you'll see folks kneeling down on a carpet of flowers having their picture taken.
       It is from this ancient granitic soil in San Saba, Llano, Burnet and Gillespie Counties that stands out as prime Bluebonnet country. (Yes, some folks will dispute that too -- disputes seem to be something of a national past-time these days -- but I stick to some notions like a rusted lock, and this is one of them.)

Please understand,  there are no experts on Bluebonnets. That's like claiming to know all there is about womenfolk, teenagers or the stock market.   They're forces of nature -- inclined to whim, chance and opportunity --  and all men can do is wear camoflague and pretend to be parcicipating.
       Anyway, after decades as a feature writer for Hill Country publications, I have churned out more than my share of articles on the subject, so any comparison between myself and an "authority" may have some veracity.
       ( Veracity.  Thats a fancy word intended to imply that I'm a right smart feller, and if I can use it in a sentence I might just know a thing or two.  I ain't gonna disuade you from that notion; besides I'm assuming you're a grown-up and if you rely on my opinion youre on your own.)
     For years it was my task as a journalist and a "film location person" to predict if we were going to have a good season and, even under the worst of conditions, where the most abundant Bluebonnet fields could be located.    One year I had the audacity to suggest that, given the drought, warm winter and such, folks would have better luck seeing Bluebonnets in their photo album.
       Next thing I knew phone calls started coming letting me know that a suit of tar and feathers was one-size-fits-all. But since they weren't inclined to waste any raw materials on a five-foot-six loud-mouth I might want to come in for a fitting.
       It was too late for a retracraction so I just moved to the next county.  Ever since I've been conservative in my preditions.  That's to say my comments were crafted to keep everyone happy while conceiling the truth one way or the other.
       All that said,  I'm going out on a strong limb and predict this year will be one of the best Bluebonnet seasons on record.
 Paintbrush Fredericksburg Texas
Generally, the prime months are late March, April, and early May,
with Bluebonnets at their peak in April.  Even after the Bluebonnets
go to seed and fade away there are still plenty of wildflowers
such as the Indian Paintbrush (above) in bloom
to justify another road trip.
It really doesn't matter much which roads you take because this year the wild flowers are likely to be thick practically everywhere.  Highways 1431, 29, 281, 71, 29, 2323 and 16 are the main thoroughfares and you can't but help to travel those; but it's best to branch out and explore.
       If you're looking for Bluebonnets, they're most plentiful in the northern part of the Hill Country.  If you're traveling from Fredericksburg to Llano take highway 16.    Beginning at Willow City the Bluebonnets don't confine themselves to the bar ditches, but spread out into the fields.
       A few county roads, such as the renowned Willow City Loop  just north of Fredericksburg, will be (for good reason) thick with cars.   If you head that way on the weekend you'd best set aside a couple of hours due to the heavy traffic.
       For an out-of-the-way drive, take County Road 113 between Oxford and 2323 . Oxford isn't even a wide place in the road, but you'll spot the turnoff by the historic marker.   There's hardly any traffic at all on 113 and the unspoiled landscape is exceptional.  The Click Route just north of the Oxford Cemetery on County Road 315 passes through some awesome hills, but you will definitely need a 4-wheel drive. 

More to come...