Wildflower Spring

Austin, Kitchen Gardening, Nature, Photography, Wild (And Not So Wild) Life

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Yesterday afternoon brought just the latest in a series of powerful thunderstorms that have blown through our area in recent weeks. Even with the power flickering on and off and the weather radio siren blaring on the other side of the house, it was impossible to ignore the view-blurring intensity of the rain coming down. It was a little unsettling, to be honest.

But the side effect of this wet spring weather has been a profusion of life here in Central Texas, with flowering species seizing the opportunity to attract attention and spread their seeds far and wide. I suppose the displays are meant for the likes of hummingbirds, butterflies and other such creatures, but, I have to say, I appreciate them, too.

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This is our front yard, aka “the meadow,” where we’ve discovered species of wildflowers we’ve not seen in previous years. In addition, many of our agave plants (some of which apparently bloom just once and then die) have sent up shoots that promise to open soon.

My appreciation for these marvels was fueled by a recent visit with colleagues to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center. I haven’t been in years — I probably went shortly after it opened in 1995 — and it was as gorgeous as I remembered. Plus we picked the perfect year, and time of year, to visit, as everything was at its peak. We even saw a Great Horned Owlet peek out at us from its nest near the entrance.

I left with a few seed packets and a mental list of native species I wanted to add to our yard, but, when I came home, I found it wasn’t needed quite as much as I’d thought. Some of the flowering plants I’d seen and admired — the winecup, for example — were alive and well in my front yard.

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Still, I added a few salvia species — autumn sage and mealy blue sage — to the landscape when a big box store had a 3 for $10 sale last weekend. Here’s hoping they thrive.

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Autumn sage (salvia greggii)

Sometimes I question our approach to land management, given that many of our neighbors have cleared and mowed until their front yards look manicured, perfect and under control. But we didn’t move to Central Texas to discourage the native species. Our choices were affirmed by my visit this week to the National Wildlife Federation website, where the organization encourages people to make their properties hospitable for wildlife by making available dead trees, leaving leaf litter and reducing lawn space.

While I’m glowingly praising flowers, I’m happy to report that some our cultivated species have begun to flower, as well. If you look really really closely at our Darrow Blackberries, you can see little blossoms and growing fruit. (The pic below was from a couple of weeks ago.)

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And some self-seeding “volunteers” I mentioned earlier are coming along quite nicely.

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