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2/6/2019 8:56 PM
 

Scouting Trip Report

Date: 2/5/2019

Locations:

Gillespie County: Texas 16, Willow City Loop, RR 1323

Blanco County:  RR 1320, RR 3347, RR 962, Texas 71

On Tuesday, 2/5/2019, I took 4-hour tour of some key spots in the Texas Hill Country looking for bluebonnet rosettes.

FYI: A rosette is the small salad plate size plant that the bluebonnet seedling becomes while it winters over. Most of our annual spring wildflowers including the bluebonnets germinate in the fall and develop into these rosettes. To have blooms in the spring, you must have the plants.  Myself and several other veteran wildflower reporters venture out way before others to check on whether there are any plants and how widespread and thick the coverage is. This is my first scouting report for the 2019 Spring Wildflower Season.

Summary: What I found on this trip was extremely encouraging. There are bluebonnet rosettes everywhere and in spots very thick. If we get normal rainfall and normal temperatures for the remainder of February and March then we are in for a very interesting and likely colorful spring!

Details:

As I was traveling north on Texas 16 well before the RR-1323 exit, the traffic was stopped for repair of a bridge railing. I could see lots of bluebonnet plants covering the sides of Texas 16 at that spot which is well before where they usually show up.

The sections of Texas 16 that I checked were between the 1323 exit and Willow City Loop and they look awesome - best in years. Here is just one photo of one spot where I was able to pull over and walk the roadside. This is not the thickest section I saw, just the one I was able to get out and walk.


Click to view image in 1920x1080 size

Parts of Willow City Loop are the best I have ever seen - same for RR 3347. My jaw literally came open with a shout of OMG when I saw how thick the coverage of rosettes was along Willow City Loop. Here is a photo of one spot along the Loop that I have been tracking since 2004.


Click to View Image in 1920x1080 size

Don't be distracted by the darker green rosettes. All of the green in this photo are bluebonnet rosettes. The bare spots will be filled in once the plants bush up in late March.

The north end looked much better than the middle section. The south end (where the road goes up and around) looked about average at this time, but it faces north and usually gets less warmth than the north end which gets much more exposure. [South facing elevations and roadsides get more sun exposure and thus more warmth. The extra warmth will usually lead to accelerated growth compared to north facing elevations and fields.] What I did see along the south end was encouraging.

Side Note: This is the only time I will likely report on the Loop. The ranch owners along the loop have livestock grazing all the time and they are extremely concerned about the heavy traffic that comes through Willow City Loop during the spring. You are not supposed to stop and get out of your vehicle when traveling the Loop. I take all of my photos from the open window of my car. Please respect the wishes of the land owners there if you travel Willow City Loop this spring.

RR-3347 had coverage in some spot so thick all I saw were bluebonnet plants. This will likely be a favorite route for many who like solid roadside coverage.

RR 962 had some plants, but I did not stop to check them closely.

I traveled a bit up Texas 71 and it looked really good on both sides.

Late Hour Update: Johnny Boyd, who is one of our veteran wildflower reporters just got in from a scouting trip that included areas in Llano and Mason County. He reports that coverage looks really good along many of the popular routes like Texas 71, RR-501, RR-152, RR-1900 and Art Hedwigs Hill Road.

Caveat: There were some spots along some of the routes where the fall flash floods have re-landscaped areas and removed all vegetation and some spots where the grass had not been mowed or grazed. In those areas, I saw little evidence of any plants. But where there was little or no competing vegetation there were lots of rosettes and many other plants as well. I did not see any early bluebonnet blooms. I did see a few anemone blooms, some henbit and some white prickly poppy blooms along Willow City Loop on the north end where they usually show up - a bit early even for them. RR 1323 in spots will be great, but other spots I know used to be awesome are now covered with winter rye or some winter grass. The one spot on RR 1320 that I got out and check was a mixed bag with one area covered with rosettes and the other with winter grass.

Bottom-line: There are rosettes and they are plenty!

What does this mean for the season? It is very encouraging to see that many plants out there at this time. However, we still have to get through the February and March with normal rainfall and normal temperatures. Want to know more about what it takes to make an awesome wildflower season? Wonder no more...I got your back. I did the research and have the facts. See my new eBook on the "Recipe for an Awesome Wildflower Season" at: http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/Portals/6/MasonCounty-ComparisonOfWildflowerFactors-1997-2018.pdf

 
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