There is a natural canvas painted across Texas. An array of beauty splashed with bright splendors of color. Lush under growth of field grasses decorated in a wide variety of blossoms as if worked by a florist. Each stem carefully placed into the vase of wide open space. Roadside pastures stretching from the Gulf Coast to the northern plains covered with the wild flowers of Texas.
Prospectors with camera in hand explore to capture this artistry. Each seeking the majestic beauty modeling friends, family or simply the natural still life which these wild flower offer from early March through May. “We just had a wild hair that Easter weekend and decided to take some photos at the last minute” stated Teresa Mathias as she stood in the field of yellow wildflower accents as her friend Carole Weiss photographed her. Teresa, a cowgirl at heart living in Austin, Texas not only enjoys the beauty of Texas wildflowers but also volunteer’s efforts preventing euthanasia of rescued horses and dogs.
Like Teresa, families flock to the road side hunting for the best group of flowers taking family photos or adding to their collection of those pictures taken over past years. It becomes traditional each Easter season driving along the 360 loop of Austin, Texas seeing numerous autos parked along the road side. Children wearing their Easter Sunday best taking seat in the body of blossoms as parents focus the tri pod mounted camera ensnaring moments of time forever past on. The colors span the rainbow but most popular is Blue Bonnets being the Texas state flower that often grows so thick it takes on an appearance of a body of water at a distance.
The wildflowers are more than just dazzling, recognized early on by the Texas Highway Department organized in 1917. The natural growth of wildflowers reappearing along roadside cuts help maintain the environment conserving water and assist erosion. By 1932, the Department took the wild flowers to heart, hiring Jac Gubbels as a professional landscape architect to preserve and encourage native plants and wildflowers along Texas rights of way. This practice has expanded into a vegetation management system aiding the growth of spring and summer flowers.
As much as 30 percent of the world’s native flora is at risk of extinction. Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the White House enjoyed the beauty which these flowers offer. As an environmentalist, she worked to help preserve and restore that beauty and the biological richness of North America. In Washington, she enlisted the aid of friends to plant thousands of tulips and daffodils which still delight visitors to our nation's Capital. The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was the result of Mrs. Johnson's national campaign for beautification. Additionally, she founded a research center to study wildflowers which today maintains a database of more than 7,200 native species available online.
If you missed out viewing the array of wildflowers, don’t worry. They return each year painting a new picture. Each roadside once more sprouts the natural canvas of beauty that Picasso would not be able to master. Year after year the colorful arrangements accent our country roads bring a sweet smell to the air and a blissful charm to the eye.
Story by Roger A. Edison
|Blue Bonnets and Texas Long Horns|