On Not Being Late To The Party

Late winter wetlands

As lingering autumn wildflowers succumb to January frost; as grasses shrivel and shred; as trees offer up their branches to importunate winds from the north and are rendered bare, a certain impatience begins to stir.

Winter is winter, after all, and bland, monochromatic landscapes can oppress the spirit as surely as long months of ice and snow. When fog insists on shrouding those same landscapes and gray, glowering skies refuse to lighten, questions inevitably arise: how long will it be until we see the change we long for? How long must we wait until this gray, dismal time gives way to spring?

Certainly, by mid-February in coastal Texas there are signs. Mallards chase one another on the ponds, with mating on their minds. Coots begin flocking up, setting aside their aggressive quarreling in preparation for migration. Their leave-taking occurs as silently and secretively as their arrival; by the time their absence is noted, they will be well away.

Even as the coots depart, northern-bound ospreys cease calling to one another above the lake, and the kingfisher’s rattle already has flown. Bereft of sound as well as of color, the world waits for what will come.

What comes, of course, is the greening of spring: a process of flowering and renewal as silent and secretive in its arrival as the departure of coots.  Despite years in Texas, I’ve often missed those first arrivals, since my Inner Midwesterner seems determined to believe that spring arrives here on a midwestern schedule, in mid-to-late March, or even April.

My inability to adapt to seasons I’ve experienced for over a quarter century suggests that we may be imprinted as firmly by place as by face, with our understanding of seasons rooted in our first, formative years. True or not, what can’t be denied is that, year after year, each time I bestirred myself to go out to meet the spring, early wildflowers already were fading beneath a rising summer heat.

Determined to break an old pattern, I resolved last week to visit my favorite vacant lots, abandoned industrial sites, ditches, and nearby nature centers just to see what was happening. What I found astonished me. Had I dallied, I would have missed much of spring’s first flowering.

It isn’t that the flowers are particularly early. Some typically bloom in February, and many more appear in March. The flowers, it seems, are on schedule. But for once I was on their schedule, too, and I’m happy to share some of what I discovered in the past week.

If you’re still buried in snow, take heart; spring is coming your way. And if the sun is shining and the temperatures are warming, look around. There might be a party going on.

 

Crow poison, or false garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve) ~ Bacliff, Texas
Ten-petal anemone (Anemone berlandieri) ~ Bacliff, Texas
Berlandier’s sundrops (Calylophus berlandieri) ~ 11 Mile Road, Galveston Island
Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohioensis) ~ Settegast Road, Galveston Island
Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule – naturalized) ~ Settegast Road, Galveston Island
Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus multicaulis) ~ Brazoria County Road 227
Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) ~ Brazoria Wildlife Refuge
Evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) ~ Brazoria Wildlife Refuge
Texas vervain (Verbena halei) ~ Brazoria Wildlife Refuge
Cut-leaf groundsel (Senecio tampicanus) ~ Dudney Nature Center, League City
Dewberry blossom (Rubus trivialis) ~ Dudney Nature Center, League City
Small bluet (Houstonia pusilla) ~ Dudney Nature Center, League City
Texas umbrellawort (Tauschia texana) ~ Dudney Nature Center, League City
Violet wood-sorrel (Oxalis violacea) ~ Vacant lot, Kemah
Bristly buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus) ~ Shaded drainage ditch, Kemah
Deer pea vetch (Vicia ludoviciana) ~ Vacant lot, Kemah

Comments always are welcome.

131 thoughts on “On Not Being Late To The Party

    1. I really was surprised to find such a variety. The umbrellawort was new to me, so that was a bit of extra excitement. I found it’s endemic to Texas, and it’s so interesting you’ll be seeing it again. In some cases, I found only one or two plants (like the pink primrose), but I like to think of them as advance scouts.

  1. Gorgeous writing and photos!
    I’m an Iowan, and there aren’t many sure signs of Spring here yet, but there are whisperings. :)
    I’ve been trying to go out every day and attempt to enjoy the last month or so of winter. It’s easier to avoid the cold, but I don’t want to miss the changing of the season whenever it does come.

    1. I was born and raised in Newton, Iowa, so I remember well the way winter and spring can battle things out up there. More than once, we had tulips blooming in the snow, and of course the sloppiness can go on forever. Actually, I do miss having four distinct seasons, but we have our own delights here in Texas, and whenever I pine for Iowa autumns or winters, I try to remember that.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for commenting. I hope you do enjoy the rest of the winter!

      1. I love the distinct seasons as well, but like most people, I’m usually over the winter months about mid-February. I look forward to seeing some greenery amongst the snow and mush. :)
        I will do my best to enjoy it – thank you!

  2. What an amazing array. You certainly timed these visits well.
    The Spiderwort and Oxalis are the only ones I know well, but a couple of other flowers look similar to some we have in Australia.
    The Deer Pea Vetch is similar to our Common Vetch and in my view, the prettiest of them all.
    The Henbit reminds me a bit of a Salvia flower.

    1. To be honest, I was surprised to find such a variety of flowers. I really didn’t know what I’d see, but I knew that March was too late to begin looking. In past years, most of the anemones I found already had lost their petals. In fact, the first ones I met had only that central core remaining, and it took me forever to identify them.

      There are so many vetches, and I think they’re all pretty. I have a fondness for the pea family in general. This was the first henbit I’ve found, and it took me a while to identify it. If a woman who stopped by while I was photographing it hadn’t called it a nettle, and given me that common name as a clue, I might still be looking.

  3. This post showcases your eloquent writing. I enjoyed the writing as much as I enjoyed the vibrant photos of wildflowers. Your interest in all things of life is motivating, I am sure, to all of your loyal readers.

    1. I enjoyed the writing as much as the photographing, Cheri. In both cases, a basic question often is, “How am I going to do this?” It’s always satisfying when the answer allows words and images to fit together more or less seamlessly. I’m glad you enjoyed the result, too.

  4. I got excited to see your perfect timing and feel that I’m taking part in a Spring festival! Beautiful write up.Those blooms and your clicks are extraordinary. What a splendid start to the season! Here’s to bright and vibrant days!

    1. It certainly feels like a spring festival. We could do with a little more sun, but it occurred to me while I was out and about that if the flowers are going to bloom despite the gray skies and fog, we might as well do the same. It’s nice to be able to enjoy a bit of color here, too, and not simply envy the exuberance of your Tet festivities!

  5. The “greening of spring” — indeed, along with the introduction of color, again. Yes, those are all early, but you caught them so beautifully. My spiderwort have started, henbit, too. Lovely post, Linda–worthy of spring.

    1. I was surprised to find that the bluets, henbit, and oxalis all are listed as February bloomers. In fact, one source said that, in a mild winter, the bluets will pop up even in January. They are so tiny — only a quarter-inch across in many cases, and certainly no more than a half-inch, that I hardly could believe the statement that they can turn entire fields blue. I’m certainly going to watch for them, since the only blue fields I’m accustomed to are filled with bluebonnets.

  6. Sneaky Texas spring! Great photos! I’m waiting for the harbingers in Iowa, the hapless robins and those flying wedges of noisy geese. Given the snow cover, it could be a little while.

    1. Sneaky spring, indeed. During the past week, the increase in dandelion and crow-poison blooms was obvious from day to day. On the 17th, I found two native dandelions; on the 18th, they were visible everywhere I looked. In fact, through the entire week I developed a sense that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up: spring seemed to have gone into overdrive.

      But the robins are fully gone now, which bodes well for you. Just for grins, I’m going to see what your weather does between March 5-10. That’s the boys’ state basketball tournament, and in my time, that was the usual marker for the last blizzard of the year. May it not be so this year!

      1. The girls’ state basketball tournament also has a reputation for bringing crappy weather. This year, though, they’ve seemed to dodge the bullet. Now, it’s up to the boys to jinx the weather.

    1. Down the page a bit, Automatic Gardener notes how much farther along we are than her neighborhood, only seventy miles inland. We often talk about the moderating influence of water, but it seems more than usually obvious this spring. In winter, freeze warnings for Houston usually don’t apply. In summer, the heat isn’t quite as bad as in the city. But right now? Every spot where I found flowers is water rich. It’s interesting.

    1. Well, we’re even, then, because every autumn I envy your beautiful foliage. And of course as we approach the end of our hot and humid summers, we have to exercise the same (sometimes despairing) patience as you’re trying to exercise now. It’s one of the delights of the internet — we get real-time glimpses into such different worlds. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that people in New Zealand and Australia are heading into fall, but so they are.

  7. It is still winter here in Jerusalem, though there are a few warmer days. Those that are convinced about the warming of the planet (very likely, though one might still question the cause) seize each opportunity to celebrate the victory of their thesis. What amazes me is how closely nature seems to follow our lunar calendar despite the fact that it is less exact than the solar calendar, accepted by most of the world.Makes me wonder if the weather too is susceptible to the placebo effect…Enjoyed your pictures and thought of Steve Schwartzman, asking myself if he too was searching out the new blossoms in the field. For me, the first sign of spring is the green glimmer of fresh blades of grass on uncultivated fields and the hillsides at the edge of town. Spring is soon to come….

    1. Austin has had overcast days and wet ground for much of the past two weeks, so I haven’t been out looking for early native wildflowers. There are places easily visible from streets I drive on where I’d expect to see some wildflowers already, but that hasn’t been the case.

    2. Your comment about the grass reminded me of a favorite line from the Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho: “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” It’s almost as though nature has her own calendar; she tolerates our predictions and analyses, and then does as she pleases.

      Apart from the flowers, I’m always delighted by the variety of greens that appear in spring. It seems as though every tree, vine, and shrub has chosen a different shade to delight the eye. Even different grasses claim different greens; it’s wonderful.

      It’s been hard to predict spring’s arrival across Texas this year. The state is so large, and so many variables are in play, that there are surprises everywhere. I talked with a friend in the hill country today who’s seen neither budding trees nor emergent flowers. In east Texas, daffodils are blooming, but as Steve noted, in the central part of the state things are a little slower. The blessing in that, of course, is that it’s possible to travel from one area of the state to the other and enjoy “first flowers” time and again.

  8. Fantastic photos, thanks for sharing. I knew some of your beauties, but not all.
    It has been very dry here, and cold, not a good thing for the farmers & ranchers or the wild flowers.

    1. Thanks, Brig. I knew it had been cold there because of your comment about having to get Willie a coat. I imagine he’s a little short on body fat just now. I hope you get some warmth and rain soon, for everyone’s sake. I remember your wildflowers with fondness — especially the poppies. Other issues aside, you have a beautiful state.

  9. I always enjoy your beautiful writing and your fascinating photos! Thanks for sharing.

    Things are still sort of brown up here in Dallas, except for the preternaturally green lawns. But after looking at your photos, I’m excited for our one week of spring (usually some time in the first half of March).

    1. Thanks, Biff. I may still be toting my Inner Midwesterner around, but I have been in Texas long enough to know exactly what you’re talking about when you mention that one week of spring. Just like our one week of perfect autumn, it’s worth treasuring. Here’s hoping this will be the year we get two weeks!

  10. Love your post with your eloquent writing and beautiful photos of spring flowers. Spring is my favorite season to be sure. Now that we live on the tropical island of Sri Lanka, I don’t get to experience it any more as we just have hot season and monsoon (wet) season. But on the other hand I don’t live through those brutal Chicago winters anymore. But Spring was also such a wonderful sign of life and yes in Chicago one could VERY easily miss it all together. It is so short and sweet.

    Peta

    1. When I read your mention of two seasons — hot and monsoon — it reminded me of our dry and rainy seasons in Liberia. Out of curiosity, I checked the latitude of Sri Lanka and Liberia, and sure enough: they aren’t identical, but they’re within a degree of one another. I still remember the anticipation with which we awaited the coming of the rain. By the end of the dry season, everything was coated with laterite dust, and the freshness of the world after the first rains was marvelous to behold.

      Speaking of sweet, I learned today that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has released its digitized collection of bird calls (and other animal sounds). Just for fun, I searched out Sri Lanka, and have been sitting here listening to a collection of calls from your spot in the world. Together with the photos, they make it possible to imagine a little of what you experience there — particularly away from the more urbanized areas. There’s always something beautiful to enjoy, whatever form it takes.

  11. Beautiful, Linda! I used to love winter and still miss it. The ‘dismal, dreary’ days seemed mysterious, hiding what only the very curious could find. The snow, a blanket to cover and keep warm the bounty that needs some sleep to rejuvenate for spring. The crocus pushing through the final snowfall to show the strength that hid below. The biting, frigid air prickled my senses and made everything crisp. Yes – I miss winter.

    1. I miss it too, GP. I suspect neither you nor I really think of winter as dismal and dreary: at least, not during the snow season. By March in Iowa, things could get pretty dirty with melting and refreezing, and there was all that mud to contend with. But moonlight on fresh, crunchy snow? Walking in a snowstorm? Watching a true blizzard from the warmth and safety of the house? There’s nothing better.

      Everything that’s living needs to rest from time to time, and your image of the earth resting beneath its blanket is so nice. It’s no wonder the flowers are so pretty when they emerge — they’re well rested.

  12. In Christchurch, I find that a seasonal change is marked by a change in the air which seems to happen overnight. That change happened last week. I have my eye on the ripening tomatoes and the reddening apples. Your signs of spring are lovely as well as marvellous in their precision timing. I like the idea that it is our schedule which is at odds with theirs and not vice versa.

    1. That change in the air marks our transition from summer to autumn, too. It’s a combination of cooler air, lower humidity, and the occasional touch of woodsmoke from “somewhere” that evokes burning leaves. Tonight, I have the windows open for the first time in months: since October, perhaps. It’s still quiet, without the frogs, crickets, and birds that will fill the silence in the weeks to come, but it’s still lovely.

      As for our schedules, and Nature’s, I’ve been reading some E.B. White and smiled when I found this: “I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.”

  13. Your flowers give me some hope that spring will eventually win out here in IA. As you know, this part of the country is a battle ground between air masses. The skirmishes between cold air to the north and warm air from the south take place here usually for weeks. Seldom does spring just arrive and stay. There are casualties. Some early bulbs push up to announce themselves. Cold sweeps in to freeze their petals. Ouch! I wonder how it will play out this year.

    1. We’ve been enjoying those same skirmishes here as fronts roll through and then back up. So far, the primary effect has been dense fog, which is better than thunderstorms and tornados, but I suppose our time will come. Despite my pretty flowers, it is only the end of February, and we’ve yet to see how March develops.

      I just picked up a new weather app that’s really something. It’s called Windy (or Windyty) and it’s free. It’s got features I’ve not found anywhere else, including real-time wind maps, and dust and fog layers. You can overlay several of the computer models, too. You might enjoy looking at it. It’s getting rave reviews around here.

  14. Great shots and good job identifying the wildflowers, which I think is the hardest part. I am also from the north and it does take a long time to get used to the seasons down here. Now I can hardly take a day without sunshine. I was just down your way over the weekend. I noticed spring is further along and the trees are leafed out more than ours. Seventy miles from the Gulf makes a difference.

    1. I knew all of these except the henbit, the umbrellawort, and the bluet. The bluet was easy: the other two took some time.

      It’s interesting that you noticed such a difference, even in only seventy miles. On the other hand, some of these flowers were appearing west and north of here, in Colorado and Wharton counties, at least three weeks ago. It seems counter-intuitive to me that things should begin blooming farther north first, but there are so many variables I suppose latitude alone isn’t key.

      We have some magnolias in full bloom now, along with some white-flowering trees. I’m not sure what those are, and I couldn’t get behind the fences to check them out more closely.

    1. Thanks, John. I’d been a little worried about how Harvey would affect things, since some places that have been lush with flowers in the past aren’t showing anything except brown stubble, but I’m mightily encouraged at this point. Just as much fun were the insects buzzing around. There are some bees and flies that are happy as can be to have some pollen and some nectar.

  15. Well this is a real treat to receive on a Monday morning, a basket of flowers that looks pretty magical. Wonderful shots, Linda, everything fresh and glowing, gosh these all look just great.
    Maybe because such flowers still seem like something from a fairytale when you’re in the cold northeast, these unfamiliar names sound like characters to me, or the title of some fable. “Texas Dandelion” I can see pretty clearly, with tooled-leather boots & chaps, fancy vest, engraved silver-plated six-gun. “Cut-leaf Groundsel” sounds like a disreputable pawnbroker. “Crow Poison the False Garlic” about a sinister Italian restaurant run by Lucrezia Borgia. “Spiderwort” would be an interesting brew (since wort is not just a plant, but the barley soup used to make beer), maybe a concoction that keep you stuck to your barstool for too many rounds. “Berlandier’s Sundrops” would be a wonderful name for a lemon & honey candy.
    Thanks for this beautiful post, it’s a bit early, but I’m nominating you for Queen of the May. :)

    1. I’m just tickled to death by your descriptions, Rob. I think Cut-leaf Groundsel, the disreputable pawnbroker, might be best of all, but every one of them produced a smile. And I’d buy that lemon and honey candy called “Sundrops” in a minute.

      Believe me, the flowers produced some smiles of their own when I found them. In some cases, such as the primrose and the sundrop, there were very few blooms, and they occurred only in one location. I found myself thinking of them as scouts, checking out the territory to see if it was time to call in the rest of the troops. Until I found them, I didn’t realize how bland things had become around here.

      It looks like you’ve had a bit of a warmup, and may even have some sunshine this week. Before long, your part of the world will be blooming, too.

    2. I spent too much time last night trying to surface the name that “Crow Poison the False Garlic” was teasing me with. At 4:40 a.m. this morning, it came to me: remember “Toad the Wet Sprocket”? They were a 90s phenomenon as I recall, so you might. As it turns out, they’re back.

      1. I do remember them! Kind of a hard name to forget, and I liked that band. And I hadn’t heard they’d reformed, that’s great! 4:40 am though, good grief!
        James Thurber is one of my all-time favorite short story writers. One of his best was “More Alarms at Night” He woke his father up at 3 am, and demanded he start reciting cities in New Jersey, because he was going nuts, reciting Walla-Walla, terra cotta, etc. trying to think of “Perth Amboy.”

        1. Say “Walla-Walla” to me, and I’ll sing the whole thing for you: “Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla Wash, and Kalamazoo…”

          I found an online text for “More Alarms At Night,” and enjoyed it thoroughly — thank for the tip.

          1. We sing that too! from Albert the alligator in Pogo :)

            Thurber’s other mid-night story, “The Night the Bed Fell” used to make my grandmother laugh so hard, she had trouble catching her breath.

  16. Oh, my goodness, how gorgeous! I agree about expecting spring to be where we grew with it… but we moved from Knoxville, Tennessee when I was three, to Trumansburg, New York, and then we moved to Alexandria, Virginia when I started high school…. so my expectation of spring is a mosh pit. Here the camellia is the first thing in my yard to pop. I still don’t have many spring bulbs, because I have been lame at planting them once the front yard was protected against deer…… thank you for the gorgeous photos…

    1. It’s easy to find the outlier there: even southern New York would have been different from Tennessee or Virginia. Frequent moves weren’t part of my life until after college; I suppose geographical stability does make a difference when it comes to developing seasonal expectations.

      The camellias are blooming here, and a few scattered azaleas. There are trees in bloom now, too. The crow poison at the top of the page is a bulb, and we have some others that will come along later. In east Texas, there’s a daffodil garden I had hoped to see this year, but even though the flowers are blooming, they’ve had so much rain the dirt roads into the place are a mess and a bridge has washed out. I’ll have to stick with the pretty natives for a while — glad you enjoyed them.

  17. Wow you’re seeing all these beautiful bloom and you think you’re a bit late to the party? We sure live in different worlds. We won’t see any sign of such delights until May at the earliest. But, I’m not complaining. I prefer snow over rain. :)

    1. I’m fond of rain, but not some of the unhappy results that it can bring, like the floods you had in 2013. Of course, you’ve discovered one of the same tricks for dealing with winter that I have — when the trees are bare and there aren’t any flowers around, the birds offer a lovely alternative. Your photos on those nice, sunny days make even cold weather look appealing, and the birds always are fun — although I suspect they’ll be pleased when spring arrives, too.

  18. wow, so many. dandelion and anemone have been blooming as have henbit and the wood sorrel and the woodland violets have been profuse and now the bluebonnets are starting and one little corydalis (butter and eggs) brought by the flood but so far no paintbrush or primrose or spiderwort or dewberry or purple vetch but they are all growing! the fleabane looks like it will be sending up blooms soon.

    1. Ever since you mentioned your blooming anemones, and then showed that gorgeous piece with the anemones and the lizard, I thought I was going to have to trek up that direction to see some this spring. When I found these, I was happy beyond measure, especially since they’re only a few miles away, and not at much risk of being mowed down.

      Many of these truly are first flowers. I saw two primrose, and only a handful of dewberry blossoms. It’s interesting that you’re seeing fleabane; I’ve either missed that, or it hasn’t started here. On the other hand, there are lyre-leaf sage rosettes everywhere, and I found one plant that already had bloomed and seeded. A real over-achiever, that one.

        1. That’s wonderful, Ellen. It must be especially pleasing to see so much coming back after the terrible flooding you had with Harvey. Nature’s resilient, no question about that. When I came home today, the little lizards were out sunning themselves again. The season’s turning.

  19. I recognized several of these flowering plants in our area too, though I did not know the names of many of them. I will have to keep this post for identifying plants when they begin blooming in our area. I see bits of green and lots of buds burgeoning on shrubs and trees so the “party” isn’t far off here. This time of year I begin watching for the poke plant to emerge and the redbud trees to bloom. It won’t be long before those elusive morel mushrooms will (or will not) pop up in the woodland areas. We do not have them on our property, but the river is a short hike and it’s always a fun treasure hunt for me.

    1. Our redbuds haven’t opened yet, but some of the tulip trees (actually a magnolia, I believe) have. What I envy are those morels that live in your neighborhood. The sights and sounds of spring are lovely, but there are times when the taste of spring wins out. There just isn’t anything better, but it’s been a long, long time since I’ve eaten them.

      Is the poke plant you mention this one? I came across some last fall, when the berries nearly were gone, and I thought the color of the stems was beautiful. I’d never seen the plant before, and it took some time for me to identify it. I hope to find it again this year.

  20. Whoo hoo! Spring has sprung for you, as well as us folks here on the SE coastal areas.

    Lovely photos and who says weeds are ugly? Someone who hasn’t taken a close look, that’s who.

    My forsythia has bloomed and is already leafing out. The redbuds, tulip trees and ornamental pears are in full bloom. No wisteria, dogwood or azaleas yet but they’ll be showing off shortly. Hubby cleared last season’s dead growth out one of my flower beds last week and the daffy-down dillies are sprouting up but haven’t bloomed yet.

    I can’t believe it’s still February. We’ve already hit 80F several times. Hard to believe that 6-7 weeks ago, we had 5 inches of snow.

    1. I’ve just about excised weed from my vocabulary. Obviously, there are plants that don’t belong in flower or veggie gardens, and weed makes sense in that context — phrases like “Please take this hoe and dig out those plants that have chosen an inappropriate place to grow” are a little awkward.

      I guess the dandelion and henbit qualify as weeds (especially that European dandelion), but they surely are pretty, and at this time of year any pollen or nectar is good. I’ve got a few delightful images of insects on these flowers that I’ll post shortly.

      I know that our cold temperatures were welcomed by people like the peach growers. I’ve wondered whether the cold weather wasn’t an encouragement to some of these flowers. We like a nice, brisk day — maybe they do, too. Or maybe they’re just tired of cold and dark, and want to get out into the sunlight. We had a little sunshine yesterday, and believe me: everyone was smiling.

  21. You have a wonderful gift in being able to observe, document and share nature. Although, I’m not sure ‘gift’ is the right word because no doubt you’ve worked hard to hone this art form. I always learn from your essays and photo journals. This time it was the coots. I googled a photo and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one!

    1. Oh, the coots! They’re absolutely wonderful. They are feisty little things, and love to chase one another around, like this. They’re not very good fliers, and prefer to fly at night: perhaps because they’re embarassed. I have only one photo of them in flight, and that was accidental. I found some in the middle of a group of other birds when I put the image up on the computer. It’s a terrible photo, but at least I have evidence they can fly.

      It’s a fact that even a short bit of writing like this can take as much time as driving around to find the flowers, but I do enjoy it. Being able to communicate some of nature’s realities without depending on photos is an art that I’d like to hone. I was happy with the way this little piece turned out.

  22. I see a lot of my favorites here. Pink primroses are so perfect. And that precious little wood sorrel. I have many new wild things to get familiar with in my new state.

    1. Meeting new plants is fun. Even here, moving among the eco-regions, I keep stumbling across things I’ve never seen. The last time I was in the hill country, I found about thirty species I’d never seen, although I’d read about some of them. It certainly does keep life interesting.

      I love the wood sorrel, too. I found some yellow — Oxalis stricta — but the photos weren’t good enough to post. I’ll make another run at that later this week.

      There are rosettes galore, everywhere. It’s interesting, because in most cases I don’t have a clue what they’re going to become. I know the lyre-leaf sage, the bluebonnet, and American basketflower. Otherwise? I’m going to just have to wait and see what develops — literally.

  23. Ahhh, yes. I am now spoiled by the early spring we had here last year, my first in the state. The recent rains and fogginess had been weighing me down, but I’ve been scribbling my own warming-up post this week after a brief trip farther east, where full summer seems to have appeared!

    1. I don’t know how far east you went, but the bulletins I’ve received from Mississippi and South Carolina are filled with reports of blooming trees and emergent flowers. I’ll look forward to your report.

      If I heard it once, I heard it more than a couple of hundred times this year: “Well, at least we’ve had a real winter.” It’s a fact that the past few years have been mild, and marked by early spring. This year’s winter/spring transition seems more normal. The biggest difference is that I got out and about a little earlier myself, and now can confirm what all those plant books say about some of our flowers being February bloomers.

      I saw so much change in only a week I had a sense of spring barrelling down the tracks like an out-of-control train. It wiill be interesting to see what another week brings, or another location.

  24. Linda, thank you SOO MUCH for these delightful peeks at Spring! We’ve been mired in gray for the past week or so, but today is warmer and sunny. Still too early for much blooming, though I have noticed signs — the tips of the daffodils are peeking through, there are way more birds than usual, and suddenly (or so it seems) we have more hours of daylight than previously. In addition, I’ve observed the sun is coming up more northerly than it was a few weeks ago, telling me we’ll soon have warmer days. I find it interesting that you’re still on a Midwestern schedule — personally, I lived too long in the South to get over the notion that Spring is supposed to “spring” by late February!!

    1. Those longer days can creep up. After we’d had about two weeks of nothing but clouds, when the sun finally peeked out it was amazing to find it staying light until after six. It’s wonderful to have the extra daylight — and in only a couple of weeks, daylight saving time will start. I think the constant time changes are silly, but I do enjoy more light in the evenings.

      I hadn’t thought about your experience being the opposite of mine. No wonder you begin to get impatient for spring earlier than many people. That makes perfect sense — I hope your spring comes just a little early this year, and that it’s a sunny one.

  25. It seems with all the foggy damp weather we have been having on the coast, spring has been popping up without most of us seeing it. These flowers are lovely. I recognize many but confess I knew few of their names. This winter seems much longer and colder but nothing to complain about. Today I saw a flock of white pelicans circling over the causeway as if considering whether to head north or stay a few more weeks. The live oaks will be losing their leaves soon. I am ready for spring! Excellent photos!

    1. Isn’t that just the truth? I listen to a fishing show that gets regular callers from areas stretching from Matagorda to Baffin Bay, and they’ve been complaining for weeks about the rain, drizzle, and fog. The flowers, it seems, don’t care.

      We have a flock of white pelicans that gathers at the foot of the Kemah-Seabrook bridge, one per old dock piling. The group’s been getting larger, and I’ve wondered whether they might be considering their departure time. They always seems to spend a few days testing their wings, circling high in the air. Then, like the coots, they’re just gone. I always feel a little bereft when they leave, but others will take their place.

      Thanks for the kind words on the photos. I appreciate it.

  26. Thank you!!!! I needed those photos!! I can’t believe you found so many wildflowers. It’s not even Spring, it’s too early (oh wait, I sound like at Midwesterner). Beautiful flowers. I will never look at henbit as that pesky weed that is everywhere. It’s lovely, I hope I have a beautiful crop of it…. soon!

    1. That silly henbit’s another example of something I didn’t know, then discovered, and now see everywhere. Yesterday I saw it growing down at the marina, along the edge of the parking lot. It’s an adaptable little thing, that’s for sure.

      I was surprised to find so many flowers, and there were others that I just didn’t post. It seems as though the conditions suddenly were just right, and they all decided to give it a try. I hope you get a beautiful crop of henbit soon, too — and a lot more of the even prettier ones to go along with it.

    1. How nice to have you visit, Patti. I’m not on Facebook, so I can’t see your photos there, but I’ve visited Mississippi in spring, and remember how beautiful everything was. It was a little later, in April, and there was wisteria everywhere, including some white draping the trees out on the Doro planation. It’s funny — when I was there, I wandered into a meadow-like area where there were beautiful purple flowers I didn’t recognize. Now, I know that they were spiderwort. Live and learn!

  27. Oh, so many beautiful flowers it is almost impossible to choose a favorite, Linda. That evening primrose is downright gorgeous, however. Among wildflowers, I found leaves poking out of the ground for shooting stars. Give a week or two of warm weather, our hillside should be covered with them. In the meantime, the daffodils continue to shiver. –Curt

    1. There’s nothing prettier than a huge colony of those primroses, Curt. In a good year, they’ll cover roadsides and hills. I used to have a huge field of them across from me, but the land went up for sale, regular mowing ensued, and that was that.

      I had to refresh my memory about your shooting stars. It’s interesting that they’re in the primrose familly. There’s an Eastern shooting star in Texas, but only in four or five counties; there may be another species here, but my impression is that they’re more of a woodland flower, so they’re probably east and north.

      I caught a glimpse of snow in one of your recent entries. I haven’t had a chance to see the photos yet, but it helps to explain why those daffodils are shivering.

      1. Each year, for the past few years, the shooting stars have seemed to increase. Not sure why. They are small flowers, but quite pretty. Primroses don’t seem to grow around here. I think that they like warmer climates.
        As for the snow, it has gone from nothing to starting to accumulate on the surrounding mountains. So far, we haven’t had any here that hasn’t mainly melted off by afternoon. But it sure has been gorgeous. –Curt

  28. What a wonderful selection of wildflowers – and, to think, blooming in February! The only two I am familiar with is Indian Paintbrush and Ohio Spiderwort. I am especially taken with the Texas Vervain.

    1. It really is amazing. I didn’t want to overload the post, but I could have added lyre-leaf sage, yellow sorrel (Oxalis stricta), blue and orange pimpernel, and wild onion (Alium canadense). Honestly? It’s like seeing old friends return — I have such affection for some of these.

      There are several species of vervain here, and I like them all: even the naturalized ones. Coarse vervain (Verbena xutha) looks much like this one, but has hairy stems and leaves rather than smooth.

    1. You know, I thought much the same thing. I didn’t see the flowers in a vase, but in the kind of wrapping a bouquet gets in a flower shop. They’re such common flowers, but delicate and beautiful. I’m glad you like them — and the rest, too!

  29. Everyone hates that W word when it comes to their lawn, but I like variety in a lawn so things like bluets, Henbit, and the Texas dandelion (we have something very akin to that here in Alabama) are given a pass with the mower when they are in bloom. Henbit is the first thing to bloom here in spring and the bees feast on it! Thank you for sharing your lovely photographs, Linda!

    1. I didn’t see any bees in the patch of henbit I found, but there was stinging nettle around, and those plants were covered in bees. I was glad a woman who wandered by told me not to touch them; I know bull nettle, but never had come across stinging nettle.

      I grew up with those standard American lawns, but I’ve lost my taste for them. Even apart from the water waste, the problems with fertilizers, and all that, i just don’t think they’re as attractive as lawns that take a different, more natural approach.

      I suppose my best finds were the umbrellawort, and an unmatched pair of bluets: one blue and one white. Little oddities like that always make me smile. It’s fun to compare notes on what’s blooming, too. I think we’re all ready for it.

  30. Oh those are just lovely! We’ve got Henbit, daffodils, and some other small purple/blue flowers that I haven’t taken time to identify. Plus, it’s already time to mow (the wild onions anyway).

    1. So you know henbit, too. This was the first I’d ever seen. The clovers are mounding up, and the crow poison is everywhere now. I suspect the wild onion will be coming along shortly, or already is thick in other areas. Now that things are drying out just a little the mowing has started, and every once in a while I catch that scent of fresh-cut grass. There’s nothing better. It’s been a while!

    1. A single spiderwort’s lovely, but in a few weeks they’ll be getting thicker, and they’re even more fun to see then. I saw a friend’s photo from a road in Brazoria County where she found bluebonnets and spiderwort combined a couple of years ago. I’m going to keep an eye on that road this year; maybe I’ll get lucky, too. Bluebonnets are great, but I prefer them when they’re combined with something else, like the spiderwort or Indian paintbrush.

  31. Well, that was a profitable journey! Thanks for sharing these, and the encouragement to hold forth hope. We don’t have snow right now, but I suspect a blast or two will still come our way. In the meantime the march of Lent and the rhythm of the term remind us that Spring will have its way!

    1. It’s amazing how brightly even a single spot of color shines in the midst of winter’s lingering drabness. And your comment’s a reminder of how many schedules we live by simultaneously. While we’re tending to the turn of the week, the demands of the day, and the longer commitments such as Lent and the school term, it’s no wonder that we sometimes miss Spring’s little stirrings, which are all around. It is amusing that we so often use the season as metaphor, but miss the reality!

    1. What a difference a few degrees of latitude can make. It’s quite something to see the differences from one part of the country to another. But tomorrow is March 1, and another friend in Montana has found his early buttercups up on a ridge, right where they belong. I’m sure you’ll have more snow and cold, but your flowers are waiting to emerge, too.

      The good news is that snow equals moisture. It’s ever so much better than cold and dry!

  32. The only way I can ever forgive you for being able to experience these riches is if I may assume that you will not be blessed with high summer treasures as freely as this. Do tell me that high summer and early autumn will bring excessive heat and flora and fauna gasping for cooling draughts of water!

    Joking apart, I will have to wait several months for a carpet of flowers. Everything foolhardy enough to show itself is once again covered by snow.

    1. Ah, ha! It’s flower-envy raising its little head: akin to the foliage envy I experience in fall, or my snow envy in winter: although I suspect you’ve had quite enough of snow at this point.

      It’s true that in high summer things wither and wilt, but the good news is that we have wonderful autumn flowers, too. In fact, I was still photographing pollinators on everything from sunflowers to sage in mid-November this year. August leaves a lot to be desired, but there’s a good bit that makes up for August — once we’ve gotten through it.

    1. In the roughly two weeks since I took these photos, the changes have been remarkable. Trees are leafing out, buds are forming on early-blooming shrubs, and there’s even a hint of pollen in the air. In another sign of approaching spring, it’s been possible to open the windows at last. One of these days, I’ll even wash them.

  33. So glad your seasonal timepiece was on time. So many different and lovely flowers already. The pictures are gorgeous. New, tender, and vibrant. Thanks for sharing your find. And I’m glad to find that I still had this post in queue.

    1. It is remarkable how many flowers were blooming when I made my little loop. Today, their numbers are swelling. The crow poison I showed at the top of this post has multitudes of new friends; along the roadsides and in fields, the ground is white with them. I’m sure it won’t be long until the other members of the iris family show up, along with the wild onions and lilies. It seems the warm spring temperatures tempt flowers out of the ground as surely as they tempt people out of their houses.

  34. Spring can wait a little longer for all I care. I am still enjoying winter. :-) But looking at the gorgeous photos I do get filled with spring feeling and wanting to experience the colours and the warmer temperatures that spring brings.

    1. I’m just glad you got some real winter this year, Otto. I know some have been disappointed to have so little snow for their winter sports, or even for the simple enjoyment of the season. Still, nature has her own schedule; we’re just along for the ride. Luckily, the scenery in spring is especially nice!

  35. Yes, an amazing abundance, but in a way, less amazing to me, since I’m ignorant about the seasonal variations in Texas, and I know there are so many different regions to boot. I’m glad you amazed yourself! The photo of the late winter wetlands, followed by all those pretty blooms, makes a great contrast. A few, like Spiderwort, Henbit & Evening primrose, are old favorites, and then others, like your Vervain, are lovely reminders of plants I used to know back east – another Vervain – Verbena histata. I used to get so excited when I’d find one blooming in the middle of a field, usually somewhere north of NYC. I love that flower. It’s nice how familiar the families are, even if the species are new. Lovely post!

    1. In the two weeks since I took these photos, the changes seem to be coming daily, rather than weekly. The early-flowering trees are putting on leaves, the earliest flowers are seeding, and nearly all the trees are shedding pollen — to every allergy sufferer’s regret. Where I found only a few crow-poison, there are fields covered in white, and ditches are filling up with groundsel and dandelions. There’s no stopping it now — at least, not on the Texas coast.

      You’re right about the family resemblances being delightful, as well as helpful in identification. I think the first family I learned to recognize was the nightshades, and then the peas. I just went back today to take better photos of the tauschia’s leaves. Not only is it endemic to Texas, when I went to iNaturalist to see what I could find about it, there were only six photos. It may be time for me to get over my shyness and submit a few photos there.

      I do enjoy seeing the seasons cycle in this one spot in the world. I’m glad you thought these most recent discoveries pleasing!

    1. I hope there’s a little melting going on, now. It was astonishing to see some of the images from your part of the world. I have vivid memories of tulips blooming in snow in my days as a northerner. They seemed to tolerate it rather well, and I dudpect your snowdrops and crocuses will, too. If they don’t? There’s more spring to come!

  36. Oh what a glorious collection of early spring flowers in your neck of the woods! Glad you were in tuned enough with the seasons to have caught their beauty. Having spent the majority of my life in Southern California, my sense of spring is that it begins about mid January, when we have the possibility of rain and everything greens up. I remember as a child, seeing calendars picturing spring slated for April and feeling the disconnect. Later, when I began gardening and reading gardens magazines, I realized most of the gardening advice had nothing to do with my climate.

    1. “Location, location, location” isn’t only a mantra for real estate agents, is it? Even here in Texas, spring isn’t one thing. We have so many and such varied eco-regions that spring’s arrival also can vary considerably. It took me a while to realize that I had to be careful about where I found information about which flowers were blooming where: the differences between the hill country and the coastal plains is considerable.

      Your mention of spring being associated with rain and subsequent greening reminds me of the changes that come after drought: which is, after all, a sort of artificial winter. Since posting this, our trees have developed that lovely green haze that’s best seen sideways. It’s just lovely.

  37. Just lovely! As a native Pennsylvanian who has lived in other areas of the country where spring arrives earlier than my inner calendar remembers, I can appreciate what you wrote. Ever so slowly, spring is sneaking in here — even though there is still a bit of snow in our back yard — and the grass is starting to change from drab brown to a faint hint of green. I enjoy winter, but this year I am more than ready for spring and some color in my world! So thank you for providing it for me today.

    1. Isn’t it funny how that time comes — the moment when we say, “All right. Enough. Let’s move on, please.” For many of you in the north, that time comes at the end of winter, particularly when the season has been particularly severe, or drags on. Down here, it tends to arrive at the end of summer, when the heat refuses to break, and people are tired of living their lives in the air conditioning: a strange sort of cabin fever.

      Our winter seemed more normal for us this year, in the sense that brown, gray, and gloomy were the order of the day by the time January rolled around. It made finding some new color especially nice. I’m glad you enjoyed it, too.

      1. Exactly! And that’s why I do love living back in my home state again after many years away to enjoy all four seasons. We lived in southern Oklahoma for a few years, so I remember all too well the hot summers and that feeling of air conditioned cabin fever.

  38. I am already feeling the pressure not to miss out on spring. The Nash Prarie has been showing bluets now for about 3 weeks. And now yellowstar grass a small lily and yesterday blue-eyed grass was blooming. Along with a clematis blooming in a friend’s pocket Prairie I’ll email you a picture of an Indian paint brush blooming in the middle of the fall color tall grasses. Rosenweed is starting to bloom as is false indigo. Make time for nash before summer.

    1. Time for Nash? Absolutely. I’m doing my version of the grand tour, and thought about Nash for last weekend. The iffy forecast and gloomy skies sent me over to San Bernard instead, to check the ditches and ponds for iris. There were some blooming near the refuge that I suspect might have washed into ditches from homes, but the natives in the refuge still are all greenery. There were a few spider lilies blooming, though, and the wild onions are coming on.

      I missed most of the false indigo last year, and it’s one of my favorites. I’m anxious to do a little looking for meadow rue at Nash, too — or a lot of looking, since it’s clearly not one of the more obvious plants. I’m so happy that spring is here. I’ve enjoyed tracking the birds this winter, but I’m ready for the flowers. It’s almost time for Herbertia!

    1. Believe it or not, there were another half-dozen I didn’t post. Now, in only two weeks, there are fields white with crow poison and yellow with buttercups, and tree pollen coating everything. I’m not so fond of the pollen and the allergies it brings, but it’s a sign of spring, too, and appreciated. From what I just saw of the forecast in your area, this isn’t going to be the week to go flower-seeking!

  39. Oh, this is wonderful. I just left a reply to your comment on my blog that I bet you’d get some great pics of wildflowers soon. I was right. It lifts the spirits to see such beauties. We have crocuses and daffodils here and some of the ornamental trees are blooming. It’s promising. That’s for sure.

    1. And in the two weeks since I took these photos, spring truly is busting out all over. Take a look at the willow trees I just posted over at Lagniappe. The yellow of their catkins was so pretty, even at a distance, and almost makes up for our lack of daffodils.

  40. Guess what I spotted? One of those false garlics popped up and blossomed near the front stoop. I knew I’d seen those in the yard before.

    1. Just like Chickenman — “They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere!” Since I took this photo, they have sprung up everywhere. Fields are full of them, as well as of their new companions, the lyre-leaf sage and Philadelphia fleabane. Spring really is rolling, now. I just wish the weather pattern would shift a little. Right now, the weekends have been cloudy or rainy, and the weekdays are turning sunny and dry. It’s good for my work, but not so much for my wanderlust.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Maria. I certainly was pleased with the results of my little jaunt. I believe I’ll head a little farther afield today, despite the gloomy weather. Being in this empty house is harder than I’d imagined it would be, and getting out into nature always has a healing effect.

  41. You weren’t kidding~there really was a party going on! I think you are exactly right about imprinting on a place. I believe that is why, after an embarrassing number of decades, I’m still taken aback by midwestern winters. My inner sense of what the world is like is deeply offended by a world that goes iron grey and hard and dismal.

    1. That idea about face/place imprinting came to me for the first time while I was putting this post together. it certainly does make sense of the dislocation I’ve always felt when the weather and seasons just aren’t “right.” It’s interesting that you feel it, too. I suspect many people do.

      On the other hand, your “iron grey and hard and dismal” does remind me of one of my favorite Christmas carols: “In The Bleak Midwinter.” Even the worst of what winter has to offer can be softened a bit with music — well, and a little candlelight, of course.

    1. It was a wonderful weekend, and a lovely wander. Each of these flowers was present as a single bloom or part of a small group, but now? Spring has arrived with enthusiasm, and the fields are filling with blooms. It’s such a lovely season, and even for those of us who don’t suffer greatly during the winter, it’s cheering to see such color.

    1. You’re welcome! Spring is in full force here now, and it’s amazing how much has changed in only two or three weeks. I certainly hope that you begin to see some nicer weather and some pretty flowers sooner rather than later!

    1. Now, they’ve been joined by even more friends, and the party continues on. It’s a beautiful spring here, and I think everyone’s relieved that it’s finally come. Now, we need it to move a bit north — those poor snow-bound people need a break!

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