As historian Jack Maguire once opined, “The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.” And he was right. The official state flower is entrenched in Texas culture, serving as the inspiration not only for festivals from Chappell Hill to Ennis, but for our official state tartan pattern (yes, we have one of those), for songs, for poems—even for the nickname for Burnet, recognized by the Texas legislature as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.
Unfortunately, bluebonnet fans and photographers only had a short window to enjoy their beauty this year, as the flowers came and went early—debuting in February rather than March and April. “We had warmer weather overall this winter, and didn’t have enough cold to keep them around longer,” explains Jenny Mills of the Brenham/Washington County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center. If you’re looking to go bluebonnet-spotting next year, Mills recommends Old Baylor Park in Independence, Highway 290 from Brenham to FM 2679, and State Highway 105 from Brenham to Washington as her top picks.
As for this year’s family portrait, you still have options. Try the Willow City Loop in Fredericksburg for fields that should still be filled with Indian paintbrush, firewheels and black-eyed Susans. “It’s a little tiny country road that can get backed up with a lot of traffic during the weekends, so it’s nice to go during the week,” advises Lee Clippard, director of communications for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. “Start on one side of the loop, off of Highway 290, and just travel through it to see a beautiful valley filled with wildflowers.”