Friday, May 1, 2015

Springtime Blooms at Wildseed Farms

Wildseed Farms
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.

Wildseed Farms
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.


Wildseed Farms
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.

Wildseed Farms
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.

Wildseed Farms
Blanketflower up close


Wildseed Farms
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.

Wildflower Farms
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!

Wildseed Farms
Display gardens for inspiration

Wildseed Farms
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.

Wildseed Farms
Potted plants and bedding flowers


Wildseed Farms
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.

Wildseed Farms
Blossoms Boutique

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.

Wildseed Farms
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.

Wildseed Farms
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.


24 comments:

  1. Hi Michele, so lovely to hear from you. I haven't been as active visiting people's blogs of late, so I am glad you dropped by to say hi. I am also glad you had the chance in your busy life to visit Wildseed Farms and photograph the flowers. It looks like a lovely place to visit, and browse the shop. I really found it amazing that what you call "wildflowers" there we consider to be cultivated garden flowers here! And I love those patterned pots.
    Have a lovely weekend Michele, and thanks again for stopping by to say hi.

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    1. I think one reason why I enjoy your blog so much is seeing what the Australian wildflowers are.

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  2. I love wildflowers and am especially fond of poppies. Wildseed Farms is definitely on my list for when I get to the San Antonio or Austin area. Spring is often the best time for wildflowers. What is this farm like in other seasons?

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    1. I've only been in the spring. According to the calendar in the gift shop, summer has blooms and then they focus on pumpkins, butterflies and seeding talks in the fall. At Christmas, I think the store becomes like a Christmas market but perhaps the fields aren't as showy.

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  3. A very beautiful and picturesque place, i can take thousands of photos here!

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  4. Beautiful! I love those Texas wildflowers, we had a post on them ourselves a while back. And oh, man, to see a five-foot monitor lizard...in the wild? Malaysia must be incredible. Here's our link to the wildflower post: http://outboundadventurer.com/wildflowers-in-the-valley-of-dinosaurs/

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  5. Oh what a beautiful post and certainly a perfect place to visit on a springtime day. Will have to put this one in the future's file for sure! Have a great week, Jackie

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  6. How lovely! Texas in wildflower season is one of my 'must see' places that I somehow never seem to manage, partly because Spring is always a busy time for me. Maybe next year.

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  7. I could see myself spending a pretty penny in that boutique - ooopsie!

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  8. This place looks amazing! I love all of your photos, you've really captured the colours of all of the flowers so well! Will have to keep an eye out for places like this near me, would absolutely love to visit a flower farm!

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  9. i worked with a fellow from Texas who explained to me that Texas' is much more floral than the rest of the southwest "desert." I can see what he means from your photos. More colorful and soft than you expect Texas to be.

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  10. What a spectacular display of flowers! I could have spent hours in that gift shop!

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  11. Wonderful wildflowers and so similar to the one here in Greece, thanks for sharing on Sunday Traveller

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  12. What a great place! I love all of your flower shots, and I could do some serious damage to my credit card in that gift shop!

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  13. Michele, What a gorgeous place. I've never heard of it before, but I love that they are all wildflowers. Gorgeous post! Thanks for linking up with us at weekend Travel Inspiration!

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  14. Having lived in the tropics most of my life I am quite used to the lack of seasons and I do like it that way. However, your photos have reminded me of how much I love Spring, it used to be lovely seeing the flowers bloom after months of dreary winter

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  15. I love how you were able to sneak this visit in between the kids' activities and school. This looks like the perfect place to usher in Spring. Those flowers, especially the poppies, are just beautiful. I don't have a green thumb so succulents and wildflowers are more my thing. :) I want one of those pretty pots.

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  16. Hi Michelle, what a stunning place. Such a beuatiful legacy left by the Johnsons. The flowers are indeed beautiful. Many of then are unfamiliar to me. I love the display gardens for inspiration. It's great that you were able to squeeze in a visit.

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  17. I must have just missed you! We were there probably a couple of days later. It's a beautiful place and you captured it well. (And you get points for getting your photos posted, as I haven't even started editing mine!). BTW, we found oads of flowers -- even a few bluebonnets -- on most of the major flower routes even into May, so don't give up too early!

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  18. springtime blooms were too good to see.!!

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  19. This farm is beautiful - the daisies and the larkspur are definitely my favorite. And I really love the pottery. What a great way to spend the afternoon in between your neverending mom duties. It's inspiring to see how you're still incorporating travel into your life back at home.

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  20. Oh my, I can't believe those flowers. They're totally stunning! What a way to spend a spring day. Thanks for joining Weekend Travel Inspiration!

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