You don’t necessarily have to go far to get the iconic picture of the kids sitting among Blue Bonnets. Last fall Houston Parks and Recreation seeded about 50 acres around town. Seeding has been going on for three years according to T-J Marks with the Parks Department. The flowers are, of courser wild, so seeding can help establish them, but they can manage on their own.
“They’ve done this for millennia and they’re adapted to do that, but you’ve got to let them flower and you’ve got to let them go to seed. Just like last year when we had a drought and we didn’t have a good show, but then that seed accumulates and then when the conditions are right, you get a spectacular show.”
The idea is to expand the seedings each year to increase the number of areas, right here in the city, with large wildflower blooms. Marks says there are benefits to these wildflower patches that go beyond the obvious.
“There have been studies that show it reduces stress, it also reduces our mowing which reduces fuel consumption and reduces emissions, these areas that have more vegetation on them are better at filtering the rain water better at holding the rain water, it provides habitat for insects and bees and butterflies and birds and so there’s lots and lots of benefits.”
There’s a list of wildflower locations in the city at houston-parks-dot-org.
But if you prefer you can make a road trip, in this part of Texas it’s hard to beat Washington County. Lu Hollander with Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau says the recently warming temperatures are making the next couple of weeks prime wildflower time.
“There going to be absolutely spectacular this year. Every person we’ve spoken to in the plant world indicates wildflowers in general, Blue Bonnets certainly, will be spectacular this spring because of all the moisture and actually because of all the cold weather we’ve had.”
Hollander says they too have a website for prime viewing locations it’s brenham-texas-dot-com, Texas is spelled out.
She says generally, along Highway 36 north of Brenham and 105 toward Washington-on-the-Brazos flowers are in bloom. There are lots of places really that are good for viewing, but Hollander cautions if there’s no safe place to pull off the road and park, keeping driving if you want to get out and take some pictures. Also lookout for fire ants and thorny plants before sitting among the flowers.
There are a couple of particularly safe and accessible locations in Washington County. Hollander says one is on Texas 390 just west of Independence.
“We have one place called Old Baylor Park up in Independence that is an absolutely lovely place to take pictures and it’s very safe because it’s open, it’s a park road and you’re not going to have the traffic that you’d have on another kind of road. The other place I’m told that expects to have really good Blue Bonnets this year is Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.”
Whether you leave town or enjoy wildflowers here in Houston remember they won’t grow next year if you pick them this year. And remember it is always illegal to pick anything in a city park.