In a week or two our Texas Highways (and byways) will be in full bloom with a wide variety of wildflowers. Some varieties are seen throughout both Texas and Oklahoma; others are more region specific, depending on soil pH and texture. For that reason you might want to take more than one “tour” this spring and see the full possibilities.
The most obvious place to visit and see wildflowers is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center in far south Austin. Take MoPac south and exit at La Cross Avenue and head east for about a mile. There are a variety of different gardens there (all featuring native plants), including the Fragrance Garden, the Butterfly Garden, and the Wildflower Meadow. For hours and special events go to their website.
Another beautiful day trip would be to visit the Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg. This is one of the largest wildflower seed farms in the county, and they sell a variety of different seeds and seed mixes, including native grasses. The Wildflower Farm and Market Center is open daily. You can call ahead to 800-848-0078 for directions, or go to their website.
There are several “loop drives” that might be of interest to you. If you want to stay close to home, you can take Hwy 71 East to La Grange, and just an exit or two past the town take Hwy 159/237 northeast. It will intersect with Hwy 290 at Burton. From there take Hwy 290 east and to Brenham. Turn around there, and on your way back instead continue on Hwy 290 west until you get to Giddings. From there take Hwy 77 South to La Grange and then home.
Another more southeasterly route would be to take Hwy 95 south to Hwy US 90 at Shiner and then about 8 miles further south where it intersects with another Hwy 77 going southwest.to near Yoakum. Continue southwest on that Hwy 77 to until you arrive in Cuero. From there turn north on US 183 to Hochheim, east on 111 until it intersects with 77. Go north again on US 77 back to Hallettsville and then further north to La Grange. You can then come home on Hwy 71 to Smithville.
If you want the Hill Country tour, take Hwy 71 west to Austin and then on northwest to Llano. At Llano, turn east again on Hwy 29. Where it crosses Hwy 1431 (near the west bank of Lake Buchanan), you can either go south to Kingsland and Marble Falls, or continue east on Hwy 29 to Inks Lake and Burnet., and then take Hwy 281 south to Marble Falls and continuing on to the intersection of Hwy71. From there you come home on Hwy 71 to Austin, Bastrop, and Smithville. There is a map showing several of these loops at the website , but when I compare the routes there to an actual AAA Texas map, there are some discrepancies. You might want to visit the website, print the various maps, and the take your own map with you for confirmation. Of course, if you get lost in the wildflowers, it won’t be disappointing, in any case.
Last fall I purchased some seed mixes from Native American Seed in Junction, TX. I’m working to restore balance to my 16 acre Wild Rose Ranch near Alum Creek Road and Gotier Trace Road. In future columns, I’ll discuss some of the methods I’m using to diminish the fire danger (the wildfire a year or so ago started only ¼ mile from me but blew southeast and away from my property) and improve habitat for the Houston toad, and other native flora and fauna.