Re: [gardeners] Wildflowers

Margaret Lauterbach (
Mon, 20 Apr 1998 06:46:29 -0600

At 01:26 PM 4/19/98 +0000, you wrote:
>One day, early last week, we had the joy of driving down three
>seventy-mile long perennial beds. The State Highway 
>Department courteously provided paving for the automobiles and 
>named it "Interstate-10."
>The beds were full of bluebonnets -- still the old fashioned blue -- 
>not yet the pink ones, or the Texas A&M development, the maroon 
>bluebonnet in honor of the school's color. To contrast, there were 
>lavender verbena, pale pink Mexican primroses, deep claret winecups, 
>and rare spots of peachy-orange Indian paintbrush. Here and there 
>were clumps of the flowers Lady Bird Johnson once called DYC's . 
>Called upon to translate, she smiled, "Damned yellow composites."
>It is Lady Bird to whom all of us are indebted for these highway 
>"perennial beds." Years ago she offered a prize to the Texas 
>highway departments who developed the most beautiful flowers 
>along their rights-of-way. Doing the work on their own time and 
>without State or Federal funds, local garden clubs saved seed, some 
>seed was purchased, and (if truth be told) a lot was rustled -- and 
>the highway crews scattered or (I'm told this IS the truth) fired the 
>seed into the ground from sundry weapons!
>There are places -- not on the Interstates -- where the wildflowers 
>this time of year are so dense that traffic moves at a snail's pace, 
>and where deputy sheriffs must be posted to keep people off private 
>land. (Texans do not take kindly to those who go onto their land 
>without formal invitation.)
>Not being a born-and-bred Texan, all my efforts at planting 
>bluebonnets were fruitless, but as my NG companion IS a third 
>generation Texan; we encouraged him to plant the seed, he did, and we 
>now have two great patches in full flower. Each year, mowing is not 
>permitted until the seed pods have turned brown, split, and "thrown" 
>their seed. Give us three or four more years and we will have most of 
>the "cultivated" half of our five acres covered in bluebonnets. The 
>other wildflowers we have are mostly planted by birds -- 
>we still haven't any Indian paintbrush, but there are winecups, mealy 
>blue sage, rain lilies, Mexican primroses, and all manner of 
>unidentified tiny things that bloom. And in a month or so, there will 
>be standing cypress and Maximillian sunflowers. And more DYC's.
>So don't let anybody tell you that flowers won't grow out of rocks, 
>or that Texas is all sagebrush and cactii. As a matter of fact,I 
>can't grow a sage to save my life, and our only cactii are in the 
>house -- except prickly pear, and we keep a bit of that around to 
>provide napolitos and for the blooms -- which can be spectacular.
>About those sage. Maybe what I need to do is have my native-born 
>Texan plant a few!  Pat
Sounds lovely, Pat.  Thank you.  Margaret