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Texas drought affects even wildflowers

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Courtesy of Craig Summers Black

(Read caption) One of the striking plants we saw at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas: the striking Batface cuphea (Cuphea purpurea).

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Here’s a quick movie quiz for you Western fans:

Q: In what Texas classic does John Wayne strap on his gun belt, grab his Winchester and lurch outside … to mow the lawn?

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A: There is no such movie. Of course. Because no pioneering Texian would be so addled as to try to make the parched Lone Star State look like the verdant fields of foggy, dewy England.

High temps, little rain

Which, of course, Texans do now, and that is one reason the San Antonio area where we just vacationed is in a D4, Stage 3 drought.

That means the National Weather Service considers the drought worst-category “exceptional,” and the San Antonio Water System says the aquifer is so low you can only water your yard between the hours of 3 and 8 a.m. and 8 and 10 p.m. one day a week. (Fines for outlaw waterers range from $150 to $1,000.)

This dry spell is compounded by recent record-high temps. We suffered through two consecutive days of 105 degrees F. (40+ C) on our recent trip down there. The rest on the week it was above 100 F. (38 C). And this isn’t even the torrid season yet.

A visit to Fredericksburg

One of the must-stop sites on our trip was to see Wildseed Farms, the famous wildflower shop and display garden just outside the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg.

The gardens and nursery have expanded since last we toured (as has the Texania merchandise). The butterfly plantings are admirable. Just don’t go looking to buy those big ol’ honkin’ bags of wildflower seeds that the place is justifiably famous for.

You guessed it: The drought did them in. It has come to the point that even the plants that over the eons have adapted to this scorching climate are struggling. You can still buy the little bags of Texas bluebonnets and all their other spiffy wildflower seeds, but still …

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If you go: Fredericksburg is a wonderful town with an Old World German flair: boutiques, restaurants, music, even wineries. But the new National Museum of the Pacific War is worth a trip in and of itself. It is so far-reaching in its World War II coverage that tickets are good for two days so you can see it all. Or twice.

What else I’m into this week: Getting my car repaired from the massive hail damage suffered on our trip. We were in the hotel pool on a sunny day when we heard what sounded like light bulbs being thrown off the balconies. We discovered it was a scattering of tennis-ball-sized hail. [See second photo at top; click on arrow at bottom right of first photo to see the second one.] It quickly became a torrent by the time we skedaddled outta there.


Craig Summers Black, The Transplanted Gardener, is an award-winning garden writer and photographer who blogs regularly at Diggin' it. You can read more of what he's written by clicking here. You may also follow Craig’s further adventures in gardening, music, and rural life on Twitter.