Greetings From: McGregor, TX

Indian Paintbrush blossoms at sunset in Mother Neff State Park, McGregor, TX.

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

 “There’s a yellow rose in Texas

That I am gonna back to see”

We had been through Texas a number of times. 

You kind of have to, if you want to see the USA on wheels.

The saying is “everything is bigger in Texas” and it’s true. Texas is too big to miss.

And Texas likes to remind you of that. 

The first sign you see on I-10 coming into Texas from Louisiana tells you that El Paso, TX is 857 miles down that same road. 

Just for reference, if you got into your car and drive east 850-ish miles you would be in Savannah, GA. 850 miles north would get you around Fargo, ND.

See? Bragging.

We’d driven that 857 miles of I-10 before. 

We’d also driven Texas north to south 538 miles from Sanger to Brownsville.

But most of our Texas time was in the winter. We joined the other “snowbirds” looking for warmer climes.

Then, finally, we stayed into spring.

Star of Bethlehem flowers at Mother Neff State Park in McGregor, Texas.

And were there for “The Bloom”.

Wildflowers, that is. 

And, in true Texas fashion, the wildflower bloom is a bigger deal there than anywhere else we’ve been.

The State of Texas has been formally managing its roadside wildflowers for over 80 years.

Famously supported by efforts from Lady Bird Johnson in the 1950’s, the Texas Department of Transportation buys and sows 30,000 pounds of wildflower seed every year, planting over 5000 species of flowers on 800,000 acres of right of way. 

It shows.

A Buttercup blossom strains for the last bit of sun in McGregor, Texas.

Drive the Texas Hill Country roads during the wildflower bloom and the shoulders become a rolling canvas of color. 

Indian Paintbrush in red, orange, yellow, and purple. Yellow sunflowers. Goldenrod. Poppies in red, white, pink and orange. Horsemint.

And, of course, bluebonnets. Bluebonnets are the Texas State Flower, and during the wildflower bloom turn vast stretches of Texas land into waving fields of blue.

Bluebonnets are the Texas State Flower.

Driving around Texas during the wildflower bloom is a bit like being around “leaf-peepers” in the north in the fall.

You gotta stay on your toes.

It’s not unusual to come up on cars pulled over, occupants spilled out into the fields, taking pictures of the flowers. Or kids sitting in flowers. Or pets sitting in flowers. Or taking flower-framed selfies.

The bloom lasts about six weeks. Then the colors fade away, leaving Texas draped in shades of brown and green for another year.

But still just as big.

 The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center uses native plants to restore and create sustainable, beautiful landscapes. Learn more at wildflower.org.