By Ann Gallaway
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.
I know people who have no trouble saying the bluebonnet is their hands-down favorite Texas wildflower—only fitting, then, that it’s our Official State Flower, since people love it so. As for me, I find it hard to pick (oops, I mean, choose). Purple verbena and pink evening primroses, which we called buttercups, too fondly remind me of my South Texas childhood. We heedlessly plucked the verbena’s tiny petals and sucked the minuscule droplet of nectar from the bottom of the tubes. Buttercups decorated our May Day baskets. I even loved the dandelions that appeared in the front yard, cursed by others as “weeds.”
Many Texans have a special place in their hearts—as do I—for Indian blankets. A dear relative who also loves them reminded me kindly a few years ago that the magazine had gone too long without a photo. The following year’s April issue (and this year’s) remedied the oversight.
Bluebonnets—yes, I love them, too—have two especially happy associations for me. A spectacular wildflower year in the early 1980s prompted me to take my young daughter out of school for a day. We drove for, literally, miles along blue fields just west of Lake Bu-chanan. It seemed to me an important part of a Texas education, of any education for that matter, for her to learn that sublime lesson in nature’s bounty and generosity.
My most recent bluebonnet memory is only one year old. In March a year ago, my grand-nephew, Paul, was born, just as the bluebonnets peeked through the grasses and lent their blue to his newborn eyes. Our family had long hoped, through trial and shared heartache, for a baby. I picked (yes, I did) a bouquet from a field near the hospital and took it to him and his courageous mother and father. Those flowers, like spring itself, re-minded us that life and the earth renew themselves, that hope not only springs eternal, but also—with luck, proper care, enough rain, grace, more luck—sometimes comes to splendid, joyous fruition.
From the April 2004 issue.