This spring in Texas has been one of the most outstanding years ever witnessed for wildflower bloom. The size and density of the blooms were literally jaw dropping to anyone who had the privilege of seeing nature’s garden at its finest in central Texas.
What led to this dazzling display were hard freezes this winter where temperatures dipped below 20 degrees followed and accompanied by above average rainfalls which made up the drought deficits accumulated during the summer of 2009. It was the perfect combination of climatic and environmental ingredients to produce the ideal recipe for wildflowers at their finest. We especially enjoyed a tour of Washington County and Brenham area but have noted that wildflowers in metro Austin and all surrounding roads and counties have had a proliferation of wildflower bloom like never seen in the past. In addition to Bluebonnet , Indian Paintbrush, and Indian Blanket/Firewheel, complimented by Phlox, Coreopsis, India Mustard beautiful but an introduced invasive non-native), Verbena, Winecups, Primrose, and a host of other native wildflowers were at their prime. It makes you proud to be in Texas!
Although we as ornamental gardeners are concentrated on our mini-spaces and choices of native, adaptive, and seasonal plants to create a beautiful palate of garden textures, colors, and designs, we must get out of that rut and admire what nature itself provides and take home lessons from what we see. Although the variety may not be as great as in our cultivated gardens, the indiscriminate blending of color, textures, and forms created by random dispersal of seed over vast areas can be just what a gardener needs. I learned this spring that our tendency to get too formal and perfect in our gardening designs and plantings deprives us of another dimension that is awesome – mass plantings. This can be done even in limited space. Also tolerance for native wildflowers that germinate in our yards and lawns would add to the gardening experience by allowing nature to have a say in what is planted. Our yard was filled with flowering blue-eyed grass and pink primroses which I allowed to flourish and enjoy rather than mow them down or kill them with a broad leafed herbicide. Other native wildflowers that infiltrate our lawns and gardens that have merit include wild anemone, wild garlic, verbena, and wood sorrel. We certainly can tolerate their presence during spring blooming period before they go to seed for the rest of the year.
Invasive plants in the composite family tend to be our biggest weed problem (e.g. dandelion, sow thistle). Although we don’t want a wildscape in our limited residential yard areas, we have an inner need to get away to see what nature has planted on the acreage of the countryside . Take a day off each spring to clear your mind of gardening as we know it, travel some lonely road in Texas and take in the beauty of natures garden filled with wildflowers when in season. You might even spot a genetic variation such a yellow Indian Paintbrush, or an all white Bluebonnet - something only nature's garden can create.