Blankets of bluebonnets in Texas' spring forecast
DALLAS (AP) - Expect blankets of bluebonnets this spring.
Despite a historic drought that persists across most of Texas, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center said well-timed rains in the fall and winter should make for an impressive wildflower season in northern, central and eastern parts of the state.
"I know Texas has been in the news because of its drought but I think this spring we're going to be in the news for a good wildflower season," said Damon Waitt, senior director and botanist at the wildflower center.
But it's not good news everywhere - the Panhandle, West Texas and South Texas didn't get the beneficial autumn rains, which is when the wildflowers germinate.
Excitement has started to build in areas where buds already are peeking through the ground.
"We have a lot of plants showing in the fields," said Lu Hollander, spokeswoman for the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "I think with some fairly consistent warm weather, we're going to see them pop out."
Hollander said that within the next 10 days, bureau employees will start driving the county - located between Austin and Houston - to map out where the best showings are.
Waitt said the wildflower season in Texas reaches its peak around mid-April, but that flowers will begin blossoming first in the southern parts of the state, probably after the first week of March. He said that by the third week of March, Central Texas should see the floral bounty, and by the end of the month, the northern part of the state will be awash in color.
"It's looking good out in the field. Bluebonnets the size of saucers are hugging the ground right now, getting ready to bolt and send up their flowers," said Waitt, who added that this year's favorable forecast is especially exciting because last spring didn't have a good wildflower showing.
Texas' wildflowers range from Indian blankets, which have red centers and yellow rims, to the colorful winecups with their deep purple-pinks and delicate lavenders. And, of course, there's the Texas state flower: the bluebonnet. With the bluebonnet's bright blue blossoms clustered at the top of a slender green stem, a sea of them is a tourist attraction all its own.
Hollander said that the majority of wildflower-related calls to the bureau are people wanting to know the location of the best bluebonnet viewing. She said a big draw is taking pictures in a field of bluebonnets, especially of small children and dogs.
"They're glad to see the other flowers, but they're really focused on the bluebonnets," Hollander said.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center , http://www.wildflower.org/