Scouting Report: Hill Country Rosettes
Update: Please see the Texas Bluebonnet and Wildflower Report: 2017 Outlook posted in the eBooks section. It has the latest information including a map of recent sightings.
Thursday, 2/23/2017, I went on a very long scouting trip for bluebonnet rosettes in the Hill Country. I covered the following routes:
- I-10 to US 87
- US 87 to Fredericksburg
- US 87 from Fredericksburg to Art-Hedwigs Hill RD
- Art-Hedwigs RD to Texas 29
- Texas 29 to Texas 16
- Texas 16 to Willow City Loop
- Willow City Loop to RR 1323
- RR 1323 to Althus-Davis RD/RR 3347
- RR 3347 to RR 962
- RR 962 to US 281
- US 281 to Loop 1604
Overall, it appears that the majority of all areas are still in winter slumber. Most areas were still gray looking, but evidence of some green was seen throughout. Patches of early bluebonnet blooms were seen along the major roadways on hilltop or south-facing embankments, but overall these early blooms were still the exception. In my opinion, if the weather returns to normal temperatures and rainfall, I believe roadsides along main roads will be in full bloom by the end of March if not sooner. Fields will follow 7 to 10 days later. However, if the weather continues to be hotter than normal with less than normal rainfall then I think we will see the roadsides of main roads in bloom before the 3rd week of March and I think fields would be in jeopardy.
I-10 to US 87: Saw a few small yellow flowers in bloom that might be Texas dandelion. Otherwise mostly gray with some green. Lots of construction along this route before Boerne. I did not stop at my usual checkpoints, so I do not know if there are any bluebonnet rosettes.
US 87 to Fredericksburg: Mostly gray, some green, but no early blooms spotted by me
US 87 from Fredericksburg to Art-Hedwigs Hill RD: Mostly gray until I crossed the Mason County line past Threadgill Creek RD then greener and a stretch of early bluebonnet blooms along south facing embankments. There was only this one stretch of early bluebonnet blooms. I spotted patches of rosettes from Mason County line all the way to Art-Hedwigs Hill RD. If conditions are right, this could be a very nice scenic route for bluebonnets.
Threadgill Creek RD (to 1 mile in): A few early bluebonnet blooms. I only traveled about a mile down the road. One side of the road has been scraped to bare ground. The other side had a good coverage of rosettes.
Keyersville RD (to 3 miles in): I saw rosettes, but this route is still covered with competing vegetation.
Art-Hedwigs Hill RD to Texas 29: The first part of this route near US 87 is covered with healthy bluebonnet rosettes and other seedlings. Some competing vegetation, but should still be a nice scene. The middle parts were still mostly gray and although I spotted rosettes along the edges, I could not tell if there were any in the fields. This was the same for the Church at Texas 29. Rosettes were easy to spot along the edge of the road, but not in the main lawn out front.
Texas 29 to Texas 16: Mostly gray, but green could be seen coming through. Several patches of early blooming bluebonnets were spotted. This is a heavily traveled route and higher above the ground, so I think it will likely bloom earlier than the side roads.
Texas 16 to Willow City Loop: Lots of green patches and most were bluebonnet rosettes. The part between RR-1323 and Willow City Loop did have some early bloomers in the sections more exposed to the sun. This route should have some really nice displays if the weather returns to normal temps and rainfall.
Willow City Loop to RR 1323: Some patches of early bloomers along south facing or well exposed roadsides. The northern end had very good coverage of rosettes. The middle section was more spotty coverage. The higher southern end had much smaller rosettes and were not easy to spot. Overall, I think parts of the Loop will do well this year given the right conditions.
RR 1323 to Althus-Davis RD/RR 3347: Mostly gray with some green.
Althus-Davis RD/RR 3347 to RR 962: Lots of rosettes spotted. Some early bloomers on the paved portion closer to RR-962. Overall this route should do well given the right conditions.
RR 962 to US 281: Greener than most of the routes I saw, but no early blooms of any kind spotted by me.
US 281 to Loop 1604: Very green. I only saw a few early blooms here and there, no large patches as previously reported. Perhaps I was watching the road more or just did not cover the same sections.
We are at the crossroads of bust or bounty. If the weather from now through March returns to normal temps, sunshine and rainfall then there are going to be some awesome displays in several different spots along the routes I covered. And if the rosette coverage in the fields matches what I saw along the roads then there will be some really nice fields of blue. HOWEVER, and this is a huge caveat however: If the weather turns hot and dry from now through March, I doubt we will see much more than a few strips of blue along roadsides. The rosettes I could see beyond fence lines looked very immature. I doubt they would survive hot and dry conditions. And the plants I spotted along the roadsides with blooms probably would just bloom out as they are now.