First it starts with chickweed in the lawn. Chickweed amuses me - The flowers are little purple bunny faces and the buds are these tiny purple velvet dots not much larger than the tip of a crayon. Everyone wants to get rid of chickweed, but I love to see it as a reminder of my childhood, and one of the first harbingers of Texas spring.
Then come some wildflowers whose names I don’t know. By the side of the road comes a flower so tiny and so low it looks like a purple wash of color on the weeds. Another plants sends out clouds of lemon yellow blooms floating over the grass.
There is one plant that I am curious about. The flowers are deep cinnamon (I call it cinnabar) in color - darker than the grass. I wonder how the bugs can see such a dark color - does it have UV pigments that glow?
When spring is truly here, the gems of Texas wildflowers arrive: bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and evening primrose.
I have a deep emotional tie to the primroses. My great-grandmother called them buttercups, even though they are pink. I can remember as a child waiting for a bus with her - she picked a buttercup from the median and showed me the dab of yellow at the bottom of the cup. This was the butter that gave the buttercup it’s name. I call it primrose now, to distinguish from an all yellow buttercup. I just saw a yellow as butter buttercup the other day! The first one I’ve seen around here.
The primroses first form fat pink polka-dots on the side of the roads. Later they will put out so many blooms that they will form a grand carpet of different shades of pink in area closer to acres than inches.
Bluebonnets are almost trite in Texas. At first they hide - they are almost the same brightness as the grass, just blue rather than green. But once they get going they form patches of medium blue that is electric in intensity. In some areas of Texas and some weeks of the year, all you can see are bluebonnets to the horizon.
Indian paintbrush in my area is sadly disappointing. In east Texas, the color is an intense reddish-orange that goes amazingly well with the vibrant blue of the bluebonnets. Here the color is dusty, like the roadside dust has coated the flowers, and they come in dribs and drabs, instead of sheets.
This is where my area is at now - small patches of bluebonnets, primrose polka-dotting the grass, and the occasional paintbrush, with the early flowers fading away, and a few winecups and dandelions for variety. Later, as the tide of bluebonnets and primrose recede, we will have desert poppy and other late season wildflowers dot the verge. They too will disappear, as the heat and sun of Texas summer turns the grass to brown, and the natives to air conditioners.