Bluebonnets taking their time in North Texas this year

04/18/2014 12:00 AM

04/18/2014 11:44 PM

Since moving back to Ellis County eight years ago, Catherine Gannon has seen just about everything from the hordes of bluebonnet lovers that come rumbling down her rural country road.

There have been two wedding proposals in her bluebonnet covered pastures. And countless people have cruised past her property, snapping photos as they drive down the state’s official bluebonnet trail.

This year is no different.

On Sunday, she had a bride-to-be and her wedding photographer show up during a downpour.

“They sat in their car for an hour before it finally let up,” Gannon said.

Despite the the ongoing drought, Ellis County officials say it is turning out to be a good year for wildflowers — it’s just coming a little later than normal.

Last weekend, Ennis hosted its Bluebonnet Trails Festival, but the wildflowers were running behind schedule, thanks to the colder than normal winter.

“We’ve got a lot of heavy fields but they have just not peaked yet,” Gannon said.

While not quite as spectacular as that of 2012, which was considered a banner year around Ennis, the show of color is better than last spring.

“I think we’ll have bluebonnets into May,” said Sandy Anderson, chair of the Ennis Bluebonnet Trails.

Although the festival has already been held, Ennis officials promote the trails for the entire month of April.

And even on Tuesday’s chilly morning, shutterbugs from as far away as Alabama and Arizona were driving down the trails to check out the scenery.

Statewide, the bluebonnet season has already peaked in Central and South Texas.

“It’s been a great year around Central Texas for Indian paintbrush — in some places it is competing with bluebonnets,” said Damon Waitt, senior botanist at the University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.

But there is a hit-and-miss aspect to this season. Most areas east of Interstate 35 are having a good season while west of I-35 is much spottier.

That was evident west of Fort Worth.

Parker County extension agent Jon Green said bluebonnets were showing up all over the county but it wouldn’t be one for the record books.

“I don’t know if it is going to be a knockout year,” Green said.

Tarrant County is still approaching the peak for bluebonnets.

“I think based on everything I’ve seen, it’s going to be pretty good,” said Steve Chaney, Tarrant County extension agent for home horticulture. “Wildflowers are not as reliant on rainfall as our other flowers.”

That’s true in Ellis County where, Gannon says, they leave the wildflowers alone.

“They tend to like struggling,” Gannon said. “They like poor soil.”

When she and her husband moved into their home along the bluebonnet trail, Gannon said, they knew their property already had wildflowers so they left them alone.

“It just takes managing them,” Gannon said. “We don’t mow them down before they go to seed and we don’t fertilize them. You’ll see fields out here covered in wildflowers next to ones that don’t have any at all — and that’s because one place doesn’t mow while the place next door has mowed them all down.”

From her home, Gannon can see the Dallas skyline 32 miles away. But after moving from Houston with her husband, she prefers looking at the city from a distance — even if it means having traffic jams outside in front of her place on April weekends.

“We don’t miss it at all,” Gannon said.

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