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HomeHomeWildflower Seas...Wildflower Seas...TexasTexasSpring 2018 Texas Wildflower Season: Hill Country UpdateSpring 2018 Texas Wildflower Season: Hill Country Update
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4/2/2018 4:07 PM
 

Spring 2018 Texas Wildflower Season: Hill Country Update

UPDATED: 4/6/2018 - Two new reports added!

Summary

So far, I have had a few positive reports about the Hill Country and all were limited areas. The other reports I have received have not be favorable. This does not mean there are not any bluebonnets or other wildflowers in bloom in the Hill Country, it just means that so far there haven’t been any reports of the usual dramatic displays along roadsides or fields. The bloom line in the Hill Country typically goes from east to west, so locations east of Texas 16 from Fredericksburg to Llano will begin to bloom first. Mason County usually will peak last.  Roadsides and south facing hills that get more sun and warmth will bloom and peak before most fields.  Is there any hope of some nice displays? There is always hope and I think that hope might be in those areas that received close to or above average rainfall in late August and through September. October rainfall was well below average, but September rainfall saw some areas with at or above normal rainfall.  

Here is a map where I have overlaid the September 2017 Departure from Normal Rainfall with stars to indicate the general locations of the positive reports and negative reports. None of the positive reports I received or saw posted said this was the best they had seen or that it was widespread or better than last year.  See the Recent Reports section below for specific locations.

Hill Country Reports Map

Why this map? Because, locations that received normal or above normal rainfall in September had a better chance of germination of bluebonnet seeds. The rainfall in October – November was below normal, but December rainfall was close to or above normal.  Rainfall since the first of the year has been below normal, but some locations (especially along the Austin-San Antonio corridor) received normal or above normal rainfall. It could be that the greatest extent of germination happened in September and if that is so then those plants could have survived given the rain that has fallen since September. Most of our wildflowers are drought hardy, but just like our cultivated garden plants they respond better when there is sufficient rainfall to help build better root systems and larger plants.

What does this mean overall for the Hill Country? I think the theme will continue – “hit and miss with some nice spots here and there, but not widespread.”  There could be small immature plants out there waiting for a bit more rain to bush up and produce blooms. Where there are plants there is hope, but we need more rain for the Hill Country. This last rain event pretty much missed the core counties of the Hill Country north of I-10. Take a look at the 60-day departure from normal rainfall as of 4/1/2018. Locations without yellow or with green got normal or above normal rainfall. Now compare that with the September 2017 departure map above. If a location got enough rainfall in September for seed germination and that location also got normal to above normal rainfall in the past 60 days there is hope for some displays of color in that location. The data seems to match the reports that I have seen or have received in the past week.

60-day departure normal rainfall as of 4/1/2018

Recent Reports

NOTE: The majority of these reports are from our Texas Wildflower Report Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflowerReport), but a few have been gleaned from the Texas Wildflowers Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/92643952383 ).  If you are not a member of the Texas Wildflowers Group you should be. It is an easy to join group with wildflower enthusiasts/photographers and a few wildflower experts to help ID that wildflower you photographed. While you are at it, please come and like https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflowerReport
 

Core Hill Country

*** Willow City Loop*** I do not report specifics on Willow City Loop anymore. The land owners do not like the extra attention. Most if not all of the land along the Loop is working ranchland. Can you imagine how worried you would be, if your livestock was roaming free and hundreds of vehicles traveled along your road every day? That said, based on several recent reports, I can tell you that the Loop has very few blooms this year compared to even an average year.  If you travel the Loop please respect the land owner’s request that you do not stop along the Loop and get out of your vehicle and that you drive slow watching out for the livestock.  There have been times when the local Sheriff’s department will have a patrol out issuing tickets to those trespassing. 

*** NEW REPORTS ADDED 4/6/2018***

4/6/2018 -RichO
- US 281 north of Texas 46 to Marble Falls: Patches and stretches of bluebonnets from Texas 46 to Marble Falls. Very large nearly solid areas in the medians and some shoulders in the Spring Branch area near and between  FM 311 and FM 306. NOTE: This is a very very busy portion of US 281 with lots of traffic. There is not safe parking along this stretch of the highway. I saw people parking along the roadside and in between medians on the crossovers. People would out in the bluebonnets in force! ***If you stop at this location do so at your own risk! This is not safe for kids or adults!!! You have been warned!!***
US 281 in Johnson City: Several areas about 1/3 to 1/2 of a football field on the rightside of the road near where the entrance to the park is and north of the US 290 exit. The US 290 and US 281 intersection median has some mixed wildflowers blooming.
- Park RD 4: The first part of the road going to Longhorn State Caverns is pretty much without any blooms of any kind. The first patches of bluebonnets I saw were north of the intersection with RR-2342. One very small stretch in front of the old cabin just across the road to the fish  hatcheries. The sign says Clay Young RD.
- Park RD 4: A nice scene just before the bend towards the golf course with bluebonnets flowing  up the hill towards a tree. Not fully 100% covered, but nice with a few white and baby-blue bluebonnets in the scene.
- Texas 29 to a few miles beyond RR 1431: Saw very little at all...maybe a patch here and there. The wooden fence location just before 1431 was without blooms. 
- Texas 29 from Park 4 to RR-1869: Some patches and a few stretches, but nothing worthy of a photo to me that is.
-
RR 1869/1174 to RR 1431: This road goes through the Balcones Canyonlands. One large yellow field - oh wait that's bastard cabbage! One nice scene along a white wooden fence with tree and narrow long stretch of bluebonnets on RR 1174 before CR 328. Other patches and some stretches here and there, but nothing more to photograph for me!
- RR 1431 from RR 1174 to Marble Falls: Only a few sprinkles in fields, patches and short stretches along the roadside.


4/6/2018— Colette Pearce
- Lakeway on 620 has some wildflowers, including Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, and Pink Evening Primrose in the r.o.w.s. Going west on 71 we continued to see those same blooms, but not in profusion. A few miles west of Lakeway I saw some Foxglove, Penstemon cobea, in the r.o.w. on the north side but the traffic was too crazy to stop for a photograph. The coverage was sporadic from there on past 281 until we got to the Kingsland area. The Bluebonnets thickened up for awhile around Packsaddle Mountain where we saw some wide r.o.w.s with a lot of Bluebonnets, not Indian Paintbrush.
- CR 307 into Kingsland had a fair amount of Bluebonnets, but nothing spectacular. The Slab on the Llano River is beautiful. We stopped and walked around there for a bit and I did photograph some wildflowers, although they were not thick anywhere. I found a tall wildflower that I could not i.d. Will post photo.
- 1431 to 29, again, just sporadic coverage. At no time did I see any pastures/fields filled with flowers. West on 29 toward Llano, did see some Blues in the r.o.w.s.
- We took CR 152 out of Llano to Castell. It was a pretty drive, virtually no traffic. I did find a fasciated Bluebonnet standing right on the edge of the pavement. It was past its prime, but I was thrilled to find it. I can imagine in a good year that this road must be something to see.
- Left Castell on 2768 to Hwy 29 and then east back toward Llano. It was here that we found the most beautiful cactus blooms I think I have ever seen, and there were a lot of them. It must have been about 15 miles west of Llano on the north side of the road.
- Back in Llano, took 71 to Pontotoc. It’s true, the old San Fernando academy ruins are just a bile of rubble now. But the White Prickly Poppies were everywhere around it, not much of anything else.
- We took RR 501 out of Pontotoc toward Cherokee. A few miles out of Pontotoc we began to see one of my favorite flowers, the Downy Paintbrush. I did stop to take photos in a couple of places.
- At Cherokee, we turned back south on Hwy 16 toward Llano. The coverage was light all the way to Llano. I had intended to check out CR 216 but time constraints prevented it.
In all I drove about 240 miles today. My expectations were low, so I wasn’t all that disappointed. I did see a new-to-me wildflower, found lots of Downy Paintbrush, and saw the spectacular cactus blooms. So it wasn’t a total loss. Happy hunting everyone.

3/31/2018 - Phil Brown (https://www.facebook.com/PGBFineArtPhoto/)
https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflo...157527495119062

..."SH 29 Liberty Hill to Lake Buchanan, RM 2341 from SH 29 to Burnet County Park, Park Road 4 from SH 29 past Longhorn Caverns and back to US 281, and US 281 from the PR 4 intersection to Burnet. The report is the same on all these stretches of road. Occasional bluebonnets lining the shoulders, occasional patches of bluebonnets in the right of way, rare sightings of paintbrush, lilies, and a few others. The little roadside park on PR 4 near Inks Lake, which often has flowers in meadows lining the path through the park, held a few isolated bluebonnets, with no signs of any plants yet to bloom. The little meadows there were pretty barren of plants in general.
These routes have been quite decent most of the past several years. I have some nice photographs showing broad expanses of bluebonnets, paintbrush, and various other flowers from the PR 4 and RM 2341 routes. SH 29 is usually a pleasant drive with a fairly constant view of flowers along the shoulders and right of way, although there are not many places for photography. As of today, March 31, it's pretty disappointing.

3/31/2018 - Johnny Boyd (https://johnny.smugmug.com/Wildflowers-2018/)
https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflo...157527055704062
..."Once in Llano I turned south on Hwy 16 then turned south on 71 (this section of my trip had the best bluebonnets along the roadside of anywhere. But even then, it was not comparable to previous years..."

3/31/2018 Wayne Mask
https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflo...157523990184062

"We drove from Georgetown to Liberty Hill then to Marble Falls on RR 1869 today, March 31, 2018. Lots of color between Liberty Hill and Marble Falls. We then went 281 to 71 to Llano and was impressed at quantity of bluebonnets. Unfortunately drove 29 to Mason, very little at all and even went to our honey hole, James River Road out of Mason and nothing at all yet."

4/1/2018 - James Howard
https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflo...157530475114062
“Just an FYI...Went from Austin to Bertram on 183 today and no Bluebonnets, Then I took several Country Roads from Bertram to Burnet and no Bluebonnets. However, when I left Burnet I took Hwy 29 and did see some Bluebonnets but not worth the drive. Thought you might want to know!!!”

4/1/2018 Charles Somervill
https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflo...157530098404062
“Long narrow swaths all along Highway 29 from Burnet to Llano—just getting started, 4/1/2018”

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1595302473928527
(Photo) “Hillside on 281, large swath between Burnet and Lampasas —atypical; nothing else showing in that area, 4/1/2018”

4/1/2018 – Field of bluebonnets along US 290 west of FM-1320.

Austin to San Antonio

3/2018 – Texas 130 and 45 near the Circuit of the Americas – large field of bluebonnets.
3/2018 – Hunter Rd between San Marcos and Gruene – nice field of bluebonnets (***This area has just been mowed down***)
3/2018 – FM 306 west of I-35 small area of bluebonnets

4/1/2018 – Small field of bluebonnets along east service road of I-10 west of Ralph Fair RD. There is construction along this route and part of the road is blocked off. The field is on private property – do not enter the field without permission from the property owner.  Photos can be taken from the service road right of way, but there is not parking right at the field location.

4/2/2018 - Colette Pearce
"...Today I traveled SE from Austin on US Hwy 183 to State Hwy 21, then east on RR 812 to Red Rock. There were lots of Bluebonnets in the r.o.w. of 183, especially near the intersection with 21. Once I got on 21 going east the BBs thinned out, but I did see many Pink Evening Primrose, as I did nearly everywhere I traveled today. 812 going to Red Rock had some Indian Paintbrush, and more Primrose, along with other species. At RR 20 I turned left and went north. Again, not many Bluebonnets, but other species. Then I turned right on RR 535 and stayed on it through Rockne, Rosanky, and on to State Hwy 95 in Smithville. Some of you may remember a pasture at Rosanky a few years ago that was totally covered in blue. Not so this year, with only very sparse coverage. I traveled through Smithville on 95, nothing really worthy of note that I saw. At Bastrop I drove around a bit and found far less wildflower coverage that I have at other times. I did get a few shots. I returned to Austin via Hwy 21 and 183. There is a field with wonderful coverage of BBs on 183 just north of the truck stop at the intersection with 21..."

4/2/2018 - Mike Jones
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10215695808808974
Photo of Large Field of bluebonnets FM 2001 south of Hwy 21. Taken 04-02-18.

4/2/2018 - Mike Jones
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10215695786208409
(Photo) Just part of a very large field of Bluebonnets on FM 2001 just south of Hwy 21 northwest of Lockhart. Not very photogenic but a beautiful none the less. Taken 04-02-18. -

4/2/2018 - Mike Jones
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10215695804568868
(Photo) This thick field is on FM 1101 northeast of New Braunfels. Taken 04-02-18

4/2/2018 – Texas 130 from Austin Airport to Round Rock
Several reports of consistent long stretches of bluebonnets.  Note: This route does not have many service road and not easy to stop along it.

4/2/2018 - Large field of bluebonnets along a farm to market road just south of Texas 21 - Niedarwald, Texas

Other resources

Spring 2018 Texas Wildflower Season: Initial Analysis - http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/Commun...415/scope/posts
Spring 2018 Texas Wildflower Season: Update 3/21/2018 - http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/Commun...417/scope/posts
Typical Bloom Times for Texas Spring Wildflowers: http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/Commun...269/scope/posts
Wildflower Travel eBooks:  eBooks with maps and routes with descriptions. These eBooks contain notes from my 20 years of traveling Texas to find and photograph wildflowers.  - http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/eBooks
Texas Wildflower Report on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TexasWildflowerReport
Texas Wildflowers Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/92643952383/

 

 
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HomeHomeWildflower Seas...Wildflower Seas...TexasTexasSpring 2018 Texas Wildflower Season: Hill Country UpdateSpring 2018 Texas Wildflower Season: Hill Country Update