This spring has been an exceptional spring for wildflowers. Winter rains meant germination of seeds lying dormant in the soil and coupled with some warm February days it wasn't long before the road sides were a blaze of blue and red. Around Austin our state flower the bluebonnet, Lupinus texensis, nearly lost the show to the Indian paintbrush, Castilleja indivia, this year.
We hadn't yet had the chance to take any road trips, but Wednesday promised to be a perfect day to head out to the Willow Loop.
This is the road to Sandy and bluebonnets were in thick swatches along the edges of the road. No doubt making the best use of roadside run-off.
Was this a good year for mimosa too. I have two blooming in my wild garden too.
The Willow Loop is a private road that winds its way through some pretty Texas hill country. Residents permit visitors on the condition that they don't stop. Of course people do. But there are too many reasons not to stop and during the quieter times it is easy to get out and take a few photographs. Our first stop was not for wildflowers but for Texas Longhorns. And they were so accommodating as they moved through the trees towards us.
The same ranch had dressed up their fence posts with cowboy boots.
This plaque on the tree caught my attention. Some historical oak tree, I thought. No....a memorial to one of the residents who met his untimely end at this tree. It was some time before I saw the wording around the Texas plaque.
A quick stop but a photograph, from the car, for this swarm of bees settled in a tree.
Then it was time to move on to see the real show. Several years ago we drove this same road, seen here, and the prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, were unbelievably beautiful. We had every expectation that we would see the same scene again.
We began to see more and more poppies mixed in with bluebonnets.
And then suddenly on either side of the road a sea of white.
Such a delicate flower with tissue paper-like blooms. But the prickly poppy is also known for its prickly pods. I once tried to collect some seeds from one that appeared in my garden. Not so easy. Best to let them just seed themselves. When left alone they seem to do as good a job as bluebonnet at carpeting the countryside.
This is one plant you are not likely to come across at the Wildflower Center. Maybe they are afraid of the above happening.
We continued along the loop taking in beautiful hill country scenery and spotting other wildflowers such as the wine cups, penstemons and daisies. Then we headed towards Fredericksburg and the Navajo Grill for an early dinner. What a wonderful day.