Now that I’ve seen my first bluebonnet, Texas’ state flower, I know that it’s spring.
Note the pods!
A recent article in the “Houston Chronicle” informed us that bluebonnets are part of the bean (legume) family. That struck me as odd, because I had never seen pods near our beloved state flower (yes, images from “The Body Snatchers” did just pop into my head!).
Until last Sunday.
It was too nice of a day to stay inside . . . especially if it meant decluttering, which we need to do desperately. So instead the Mister and I (plus my Nikon dSLR and Nikon 105mm macro lens) left my 10-mile comfort radius and made the big drive to Houston. First, we enjoyed lunch at Goode Co. BBQ. When I saw a small patch of bluebonnets across the street, I walked over and snapped the above pic.
Almost looks patriotic
Eventually we ended up at TC Jester Park, where I’ve snapped many a disc golf and wildflower photo. The place was brimming with beauty! Bluebonnets were plentiful.
Crimson and clover, over and over
As well as bright crimson clovers (anyone else hearing the Tommy James and the Shondells’ song playing in their head?).
Ready for a drink
Winecups dotted the scenery.
Plus a few Mexican hats.
Small but mighty
Tiny flowers added bits of brightness, too.
Naturally, others horned in on my fun.
King of the bluebonnet!
I didn’t mind sharing the experience with skippers and butterflies.
Snuggling with an Indian blanket
But, as usual, there were too many bees. I know how important they are in nature. However, when they start chasing me away, I can almost hear them taunting me as they buzz . . .
Please bee nice
Posted in insects, wildflowers
Tagged "The Body Snatchers", bee, bluebonnet, crimson clover, Goode Co., horticulture, Indian Blanket, insects, Mexican hat, Nikon 105mm lens, skipper, TC Jester Park, the Mister, wildflowers, winecups
Bluebonnets always make me smile.
One of the first things I did when I returned from my short Chicago trip was to drive to the master-planned community next to mine. My goal? See how much the bluebonnets had grown, as well as to check if any other wildflowers were adding to the color scheme.
These might be the most-photogenic flowers ever.
Remember the few bluish-purple beauties that braved the end of winter last month?
Now they’re popping out all over where I do my long runs and walks! It’s really breathtaking.
There’s a blue-pink theme going on here.
As for the other wildflowers, well, so far they’re slackers. I mainly noticed pretty pink evening primrose intermingling with the bluebonnets here and there.
A welcome dash of red
The red phlox stood out, but there were too few to make much of a difference.
Looks like the Indian Blanket will have company.
Meanwhile, that one, lonely Indian Blanket not only is still hanging in there, but it has some friends nearby that are about to bloom.
Hopefully that sea of bluish purple is about to experience some colorful changes!
It’s bluebonnet season already!
Remember a couple weeks ago when there were only three little bluebonnets in our neighboring community?
Purple is plentiful.
Things have changed! Every day more and more of Texas’ gorgeous state flower add color to our landscape.
Clusters of grandeur
With the bluebonnets erupting so early this year, I’m hoping that the other wonderful wildflowers aren’t far behind.
This is the earliest I’ve ever seen an Indian Blanket; so far there’s only one.
Looks like I could be right!
More bluebonnets are springing up!
I’m not sure why Texas’ state flower is called the bluebonnet.
A beautiful crop
The ones blooming in the master-planned community next to ours where I do my longer runs are more purple than blue.
Love ’em no matter what the color
I guess “purplebonnets” sounds a little too odd!
Bluebonnets are easy to identify.
When I’m out snapping pix of wildflowers, something besides the bees always bothers me:
Pretty in pink, whatever it really is
Identifying what in the world I’m shooting.
Pretty in dark pink, too!
Take the above two photos of the pinkish flowers. I think they’re penstemon . . . or are they foxglove? Or does it really matter what they are . . . as long as they’re in focus with nice bokeh?
Where I really get confused is with the sunflower family. I can spot a “true” sunflower (they’re usually pretty big).
Love this view of the sunflowerish
But what about the ones that look like sunflowers but really aren’t? Are they black-eyed/brown-eyed Susans (no relation to me, of course)?
Looks the same but is it?
Why do some have a few petals while others have many? Some petals are wide, some are narrow . . . but all are yellow.
The same but different
Some even feature red markings on the petals.
When I identify them in my photos, I call them “sunflowerish.” I guess it’s as good a term as any. I’ve tried Googling, but I don’t find concrete answers.
What I truly need is an NSI squad: Nature Scene Investigation. Forget all that CSI stuff . . . help me ID these wildflowers! STAT!
Wish all nature IDs could be this easy.
Can you find the caterpillar among the bluebonnets?
It’s been a fun week bringing to the blog a taste of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Butterflies love Indian paintbrush.
From wildflowers to cacti to sculptures to out-of-focus hummingbirds, the Austin venue has something for all nature lovers. Including different kinds of critters.
A turtle ignores me.
Turtles swim silently in a small pond near the entrance.
A chrysalis harbors new life.
Chrysalises hang on in screened eclosion boxes where they’re safe from predators.
Silk moth caterpillars hang out on leaves.
An insectary houses caterpillars that will develop into silk moths. I’d never seen so many of the little crawlers in one place before.
A bee hovers over Wright’s skullcap flowers.
My experience with wildflowers has been that beasts usually accompany the beauty. Most of the varmints have been bees, of course, who like the flowers as much as I do.
Is the bee reading the informative sign?
Looks like they want to learn more, too!
Even the sign looks pretty.
The Mister and I made the three-hour drive Saturday to Austin to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It was my vision of paradise!
Sidebar: My vision, not my sons’. They both laughed when we suggested they come with us (we could’ve picked up my older son at UTSA with a slight detour), both separately telling us to “have fun.” I guess that’s when you know you’re getting old.
A butterfly stares from a pink coneflower.
After snapping away at gorgeous wildflowers and things that flew around them for several hours, I came away with one conclusion.
Another butterfly stops to say howdy.
Although I was over the moon at some of my photo hits, like these two of butterflies that actually wanted to pose for me (which is such a rarity here in the Houston area) . . .
Missed it by that much!
. . . I’ll spend much more time lamenting the misses, like this one of a hummingbird that suddenly was attracted to some Wright’s penstemon I was standing by. I just couldn’t lock on it with my Nikon D700’s manual focus before it flitted away. Oh, how I so wanted a crisp, in-focus photo of that darned hummer!
If only it could’ve been cooperative like my other flying friends!
Posted in insects, photography, wildflowers
Tagged Austin, bluebonnet, butterfly, caterpillar, coneflower, hummingbird, insects, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Nikon 105mm lens, Nikon D700, the Mister, wildflowers
Purple horsemint mingle with other wildflowers.
When I see a wildflower like these purple horsemint, I think of one thing:
A four-story purple horsemint
Purple horsemint dominate the other wildflowers.
In fact, when I spied what looked like furry grape popsicles standing out among the rest of the wildflowers in our neighboring master-planned community over the weekend, I called them purple Seussians. They just look like something Theodor Seuss Geisel would’ve had in one of his books. As in “Horton Hears a Who While Smelling the Purple Seussians.”
Even though the purple variety predominate, some white horsemint bring a paler Seussian touch.
Purple and white join forces.
I even spotted a hybrid Seussian to add to the fun.
But the Seussians weren’t the only wildflowers that caught my eye the other day.
Indian Blankets and bluebonnets . . . two of my favorite wildflowers
Much to my surprise, there still were bluebonnets blooming! I figured that since Texas’ beautiful state flower had appeared so early this year, they’d be long gone by early May. But there were several patches still hanging on.
The good news? The bees must have had their fill of all the bluish-purple flowers’ goodness, so there were none around to chase me.
Bluebonnets always make me smile!
Not one bee? That was okay with me!
The wildflowers show off their beauty.
As much as I love bluebonnets, something likes them even more.
A bee’s wings whirr near a bluebonnet.
Bees! So I have to be very wary when I’m getting up close and personal with Texas’ state flower.
Notice something orange on the right side of the photo?
Earlier this month when I was snapping happily away at wildflowers in our neighboring master-planned community, I noticed another insect also loving the pretty blue flowers along with the bees.
A ladybug and bee coexist among the bluebonnets.
A ladybug feels right at home.
Three different times when I saw a bee, a ladybug was in close proximity. Which, of course, made it a little difficult for me to get a good photo . . . especially one time when a bee chased me away. I didn’t stick around to ask why it was being so protective of its orange friend.
But sometimes I was able to isolate a ladybug and feel grateful that it was harmless and wouldn’t mind the photographic attention. It was nice not having to worry about being stung.
Ouch! Guess I was wrong. That’s not much of a “lady”bug at all!