On April 9th, three days before leaving on my trip to west Texas, I happened upon the largest colony of bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis, I’ve ever been able to experience close-up. (I’ve seen vaster bluebonnet displays along the Willow City Loop, but there the land is private and visitors can gaze at the dense wildflowers only from the road.) What made these bluebonnets accessible was the fact that they were at Gloster Bend, a public park on the north shore of Lake Travis about 45 minutes to the northwest of my home in Austin. Because of the drought, lake levels are way down, and at Gloster Bend the “lake” was pretty much back to the Colorado River it had been before dams were built along it in the 1930s. I’m not sure, but I think some of the bluebonnets were growing on land that would normally be under water. [Update: I confirmed that in 2016.] In any case, you can see that the bluebonnets were thriving, and so were the poverty weed plants, Baccharis neglecta, whose lush new greenery interpenetrated and contrasted with the wildflowers.
© 2014 Steven Schwartzman