For the enlightened and adventurous traveler, serendipity transforms every trip: Hiking a new trail and rounding a bend to encounter an unexpected vista, journeying to a destination you’ve heard about—or visiting a familiar place with someone who’s never been—without an agenda. Or, in the case of pursuing Texas wildflowers, finding yourself surprised with the splashes and brushstrokes of red, blue, orange, and purple that appear in the landscape.
If you're like me, come springtime your thoughts turn to spending quality time outside, trying to make a nice photograph or two of our usually glorious wildflowers, found along most roadsides and in many pastures. I say usually, because as we prepare this April’s issue, much of Texas remains gripped by a drought that began as 2004’s wetter-than-normal year came to a close. Perhaps, though, by the time you receive this issue, rains will have returned and we’ll be able to enjoy a fine spring wildflower show.
Spring has sprung, you wildflower-lovers out there! Now’s the time to hit the road; you can’t go wrong with all that beauty bloomin’. Wanna know where to go? What to do? How to re-create Mother Nature’s handiwork in your own yard? Keep reading. And for updates on which flowers are blooming in your area, call the Texas Department of Transportation’s wildflower hotline: 800/452-9292.
In celebrating our 30th anniversary, Texas Highways has chosen 30 of Texas’ most common wildflowers to identify and celebrate, along with our usual profusion of other beautiful blooms. Please note, I didn’t say these are our favorite flowers, just 30 of the state’s most common ones. Think of what follows, if you will, as the briefest of introductions to the splendor of a Lone Star spring (especially helpful, we hope, for newcomers). Botanists tell us we have more than 5,000 blooming plants in our lush state, so forgive us if we’ve omitted your particular favorite.
The 42nd Annual Tyler Azalea and Spring Flower Trail (Mar. 17-Apr. 1, 2001) features 7.5 miles of marked tours, mostly through Tyler's Azalea District. Note that some of the trail-related events listed below extend into the first week of April. Obtain a brochure–it contains a map and a schedule of events–and an Event Map at the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau (just north of the courthouse, at 315 N. Broadway), then follow the yellow signs. Free streetside parking is available along the tour. Signs identify gardens open to strollers; otherwise, visitors should photograph or view gardens from sidewalks.
Now that summer's here, we can look back at spring's wildflower smattering and agree that while the flowers were lovely (as always), perhaps spring 2002 didn't provide the most extravagant of wildflower displays in memory. But as they say, if it weren't for the valleys, we couldn't appreciate the peaks.