Skip to content

Wildflowers: Oooh ... Aaah!

Texas Highways celebrates four decades of wildflower wow!
Written by Jill Lawless.

Photo © Theresa DiMenno

Over our 40 years as a travel magazine, we’ve been “Wowed by Wildflowers,” sowed “The Seeds of Spring,” joined in the “Dance of the Wildflowers,” and gawked at “The Great Texas Bloom Boom.” Our various themes have included thoughts from such diverse observers as Moravian-born author Karl Anton Postl, who in the mid-1800s described a Texas prairie “as if clothed with rainbows that waved to and fro,” and a modern-day fourth-grader from Woodville, who penned, “Thousands of blooming hands reaching in the sun … Marching through the meadow with hearts aglow.”

Web Extra: Spring forward with a wildflower exhibit, photo contest
Photo © Theresa DiMenno 'There will be something out there for us to enjoy. Mother Nature never comes to the party in her nightgown and curlers.'

We’ve shared trivia (six species of bluebonnets inhabit Texas), Native American legends, lesser-known flowers like fringed puccoon and toxic Jimson-weed, and events, including The Official Bluebonnet Festival of Texas in Chappell Hill (the 50th is April 12-13 this year) and El Paso’s Franklin Mountains Poppies Fest (March 29). On the practical side, we’ve offered photography pointers (early- and late-day light prove best) and landscaping tips (sow wildflower seeds in summer or autumn). On the road, we’ve recommended petal peeping from the popular Willow City Loop to DeWitt County’s Cheapside Road.

And you’ve shared with us: letters and emails exalting the season’s first wildflower sightings, tips on fields and roadsides awash in a kaleidoscope of colors, and artist renderings inspired by our images. Your photos—of babies and other loved ones (even a pet bison) in the bluebonnets—always delight us.

44-45 RedThistles

Whether and where the blooms might be plentiful from year to year has remained a mystery, but according to our longtime friends at The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the general recipe for a good wildflower season calls for a dry summer, a wet fall, a cold winter, and a wet spring. Ever faithful in nature’s resilience, our intrepid photographers have crisscrossed the state to capture this organic alchemy every year—dashing out to catch peak blooms, then waiting patiently for just the right light, just the right sky, just the right inspiration.

Lustrous threads woven throughout our coverage have been Lady Bird Johnson—tireless environmentalist and champion of roadside beautification—and the landscaping efforts of our highway department (today’s Texas Department of Transportation). In the book Texas in Bloom: Photographs from Texas Highways Magazine (Texas A&M University Press, 1984), Mrs. Johnson wrote: “Each year I try to save spring for wild flowers and me, circling my calendar late March and April and May and writing firmly across, ‘Hold for wild flower season!’”

We hope you set aside some time to savor spring, too.

Back to top