This week in North Texas, we should only have to dodge rain to view bluebonnets. Last week it was tornadoes. Add weather to the hazards of snakes, fire ants and barbed wire Texans are willing to brave in order to adore the all too brief bloom of our iconic state wildflower, the bluebonnet.
Bluebonnets -- Lilliputian lupines generally not more than twenty-four inches high, but often shorter -- bloom across most of the state in spring, mainly during April.
There are actually five species of lupines designated by law as the state flower. The state legislature originally picked Lupinus subcarnosus, sometimes called the sandy land bluebonnet, but the biggest tourist draw is the white-tipped Lupinus texensis. Thanks to the beautification efforts of former First Lady, the late Lady Bird Johnson, it carpets the roadsides of Central Texas in the spring.
By whatever name, bluebonnets are gorgeous. And in North Texas, they’re particularly abundant around Ennis, half an hour’s drive south of Dallas on Interstate 45. Because of an unusually warm, wet spring, bloom is trending earlier this year. See www.visitennis.org for weekly updates on bloom times and best routes. The Mach Road route mentioned on the site is becoming famous among Facebook friends and is the source of the illustration for this blog.
A few cautions -- Mach Road is a graveled, two-lane country road. When I visited after last week’s rains, it was easily drivable but with occasional washouts on the sides, which additional showers may have worsened. I recommend wearing closed-toe shoes, both because of the rocky roadsides and occasional poison ivy. You’ll probably want to walk a bit also to get a good pick of sites for photographs.
The hundred-acre “Ennis Field of Dreams” along Mach Road is so densely massed with blooms you can smell them. Bluebonnets are usually described as non-scented, but flowers this thick give off a distinct, honey-like fragrance. You’ll see all shades of blue
as well, from indigo to faded blue jeans.
Texas A&M University has bred white, lavender and Aggie-maroon varieties from the native wildflower. But you don’t have to be a University of Texas graduate to know the proper color for bluebonnets is blue, a rare and lovely color among flowers. (And a smidge of UT orange from Indian paintbrush flowers sets it off nicely.)
Ennis’s Bluebonnet Trails Festival is scheduled for April 21-22. But I’m not sure the ephemeral flowers will last that long, so don’t wait. My grandsons are out of school this Easter Monday, and we plan to go now, weather permitting.
After exploring the Mach Road trail, we’ll probably need a stretch and snack break. I hope to persuade my daughter to go back to town at Exit 251B (1103 East Ennis Avenue) to sample the rich, fruit-filled pastries at Kolache Depot Bakery (inside the Chevron service station). Kolaches are a delicious reminder of the Czech heritage of Central Texas. To replicate the pastries, see
Bluebonnets aren’t supposed to like Dallas’s heavy clay soils, but next year I’ll try seeds in my own lawn from sources at www.wildseedfarms.com/ and www.texasbluebonnetseeds.com/.