An average display of wildflowers is expected this year in Central Texas because of sparse rains, although the situation could quickly improve, according to The University of Texas at Austin's expert at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
"It's been dry in Texas this past fall, and we're in a La Nina year as well," said Mark Simmons, the center's ecologist. "If rainfall doesn't pick up, the best places to find bluebonnets starting in March will be areas that have received more rainfall and wetter areas. The usual good wildflower spots include the Hill Country, Marble Falls and the area between La Grange and Brenham."
Meanwhile, colorful windflowers are just starting to bloom, and columbines are among the wildflowers expected to put on a show in upcoming weeks.
To see this year's wildflowers without searching highway roadsides, the Wildflower Center's 16 gardens will have bluebonnets and other favorites on display in upcoming months. Center staff will mark ideal, peaceful spots for taking bluebonnet photos. Visitors to the center will also get their first glimpse of "Sculpture in the Wild," a new exhibit of Texas artists' work placed throughout the center's gardens.
During La Nina periods, warmer surface temperatures in part of the Eastern Pacific Ocean tend to bring more rain to the East and West Coast of the United States, but less to southern states. A moderate La Nina has been predicted for 2008, though.
Wildflowers are native plants adapted to Texas' climate, so some will bloom, regardless of shifting weather patterns. Texas' tendency for rollercoaster weather could also mean rain in the near future and bigger bluebonnet blooms being added to the forecast.
To learn more about the wildflowers of Central Texas, search the Wildflower Center's Native Plant Database at: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/. To find distributors of wildflower seeds, visit the search engine at: http://www.wildflower.org/suppliers/.