|Meadow filled with red corn poppies|
One of the things I really missed while living in the tropics was the change of seasons. In Malaysia, we marked the passage of time by whatever festival brought droves of tourists to town rather than through dropping temperatures, shorter days, and changing foliage. Spring is my favorite time of the year, when the earth awakens and the days get longer. I'm delighted to experience it for the first time in four years.
A busy April kept me away from doing the countryside wildflower drives that are de rigueur in the Texas Hill Country. No squatting in a field of bluebonnets for my kids this year. A blank half-day on the calendar at the end of the month gave me just enough time to make the trip from Austin out to Fredericksburg with my parents in tow. With just a few hours to spend, I headed straight for the place guaranteed to have a gorgeous display of blooms, Wildseed Farms which is the largest working wildflower farm in the nation. After these flowers bloom, the tiny seeds are collected, packaged, and sold the the general public, landscape contractors and highway maintenance departments.
|Metal cactii sculptures among the real flora|
Although thunderstorms had rumbled throughout the night, the skies cleared by the time we set out that morning. Fittingly, the road from Austin to Fredericksburg took us through Johnson City, birthplace of President Lyndon B. Johnson who signed the Highway Beautification Act. It signaled that nature, even the little strips that cars speed by on their way to somewhere else, is important. FLOTUS Ladybird Johnson championed the case for removing garish billboards from interstate highways and seeding roadsides with wildflower seeds. The Johnsons' legacy was evident in the miles and miles of flowers lining the roads.
A sea of red corn poppies caught my eye as we approached Fredericksburg, and I knew that we had found the place. Turning into the parking lot, I realized that the operation had grown in the decade since I'd last visited. A walking trail is ringed with production meadows on the outside and display gardens on the inside of the loop. A butterfly garden demonstrates what flowers best attracts them. It was just the place I needed to inspire me to jump back into gardening. Although the fields planted with Texas' official state flower, the bluebonnet, had gone to seed, there were still plenty of blooms to see. My mom who is in charge of Programs for her neighborhood garden club was enthralled, too.
|Red Corn Poppies|
The red corn poppies reminded me of the Remembrance Day ceremonies we participated in while living in Malaysia and of the famous war poem "In Flanders Field." It's not as well known in the USA, so I was glad to see a box with flyers printed with the poem and explaining its significance.
|Production field of daisies|
The blue Texas sky and oak trees were the perfect backdrop for the acres and acres of flowers. Shaded benches along the walking trail invited people to just sit, relax, and take in the beauty of nature's colors. Although visitors may think that spring is the only time to visit, the summer features fields of zinnias and cosmos and, in the autumn, Wildseed Farms founder John R. Thomas talks about how to best plant seeds and sustain wildflowers.
|Blanketflower up close|
|Rocket larkspur, native to southern Europe but naturalized throughout the United States|
In some places, I could see the irrigation lines which reminded me why this place is so successful at having a green thumb while I have to try so hard with less than optimal results. They're taking care of these babies around the clock as if their livelihood depended on it, which I suppose it does.
|Irrigated production fields|
The display gardens gave customers a better idea of how to mix the various blooms in pleasing combinations. Inside the shop, they sell wildflower mixes suited for different regions across the USA based on variances in rainfall, temperature, elevation and soil type. If only my yard looked this good!
|Display gardens for inspiration|
|Ideas for a water feature in the garden|
I spotted this little lizard taking a lunch break along the path. It's much less scary than the 5-foot-long monitor lizard they caught in the school cafeteria in Malaysia.
|Six Lined Racerunner lizard lunching on a cricket|
When we were done exploring the Walking Trail, there was plenty of shopping to do. This place really is a gardener's paradise. While its plant selection isn't as large as my local nursery or even Home Depot, it was nice to buy something directly from the grower.
|Potted plants and bedding flowers|
|An abundance of pretty pots|
Blossom's Boutique is a charming on-site gift shop with garden related home decor and kitchen ware. The clothes and jewelry are breezy, fun, and evocative of springtime.
Naturally, they sell the seeds which are the backbone of the company's business. Instead of rushing to pick out seed packets, I took home a very informative catalog that I could peruse at my leisure.
|Regional wildflower mixes with handy maps indicationg what areas they are best suited for.|
All that wildflower viewing and shopping makes customers hungry, and I was happy to visit BrewBonnet Biergarten at the farm. This small snack bar offers ice cream (perfect for bribing kids), pigs-in-a-blanket and bratwurst on a bun along with various beers on tap and, on weekends, wine tastings. There are also shelves of specialty food items like jams, pickles and salsa. Outside, a covered seating area is a great place to enjoy the breeze, blooms, and food. My quick lunch here was fine, but if I had the time, I probably would have driven the seven miles into Fredericksburg to dine at a restaurant in town.
|Shelves of specialty foods|
Since I needed to get back to Austin before school let out, I didn't get to browse quite as leisurely as I would have liked. I definitely need to get back here again. I'm so glad that I picked up a detailed catalog and can order online. My parents and I hopped back in the car and reached Austin just in time to pull into the school parking lot as the release bell rang. I spent the rest of the afternoon vacuuming, eavesdropping on piano lessons and playing chauffeur to the kids. At least I got to squeeze in a little travel during my busy week.
IF YOU VISIT:
- Address: 100 Legacy Drive, Fredericksburg Texas, about 7 miles east of town on Highway 290
- About a 90 minute drive from either Austin or San Antonio; perfect for a day trip
- Open seven days a week, 9:30AM to 5PM
- Website: wildseedfarms.com
- Free access to Walking Trail, Gardens and Meadows
This post is part of the following link ups. Check them out for more around the world travel inspiration.
- Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox
- Weekend Wanderlust on Justin plus Lauren, A Brit and a Southerner, A Southern Gypsy, Casual Travelers and Outbound Adventurer
- Sunday Traveler on Chasing the Donkey, Pack Me To..., A Southern Gypsy, The Fairytale Traveler and Ice Cream & Permafrost
- Weekend Travel Inspiration on Reflections Enroute, Familes Go, The Crowded Planet, Safari 254, The Contented Traveller, Albom Adventures and Bay Essence