Bluebonnets from Tomie

One of my favorite books is The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola.  Based on old Comanche oral tales, he traces the beginnings of the gorgeous Texas state flower, the bluebonnet…which is my avatar. You’d also enjoy Jan Brett’s Armadillo Rodeo where she features bluebonnets throughout the book.

I’ve always been just a bit obsessed with bluebonnets.  As a child, I would go in the pastures with my grandma and aunt to see what bluebonnets the new spring had graced the central Texas landscapes.  Every year, I’d insist on digging up one of the plants to take home with me so I could have bluebonnets on Elizabeth Dr.  Every year, my grandma would tell me that you can’t dig them up.  Transplanting them is touchy business.  But I’d try.  And fail. Every year.  That didn’t stop me from picking a nice bouquet tho to take to school the next day.  But that didn’t really work well either.  By morning, they’d be all droopy and sad.

But I still loved bluebonnets in the spring.  And I don’t remember a spring without them….going out to the farm was insurance that I’d get to feast my eyes on oceans of blue along the way.  Later, after I married and moved to West Texas, the bluebonnet treks became sparse…the only time I got to see them was when we’d go home to my parent’s, who by now, lived in the country and had their own bluebonnet stand!  You could smell them early in the mornings when the humidity was high.  Heaven. Pure heaven.

Staley Blubonnets 2012...my photo.

Staley Bluebonnets with Indian Paintbrush (the reddish pink taller flowers) 2012…my photo.

Once we landed in Kansas, I was again determined to grow the stubborn little flowers and discovered that they don’t really take to the rich Kansas soil.  They much prefer rocks.  And sand sprinkled with hornytoads, cactus and rattlesnakes.  I managed to get some seeds to sprout once and they had some puny blooms that spring, but they disappeared the next spring.  Didn’t they know they’re supposed to come up every spring?  I tried buying potted plants at the local farm/fruit stand in my hometown, then haul them 500 miles north,  but they didn’t fare well either. 

Years later, I just try to get to Texas in time for the bluebonnet craze to hit central Texas.  I can usually start seeing them about 100 miles north of Brownwood….around Breckenridge.  I always call Mother from there to let her know that the bluebonnets have arrived!!  From there, the blue haze multiplies and if I keep going south on to Austin, it’s like G-d dumped blue paint all over the whole state!  With little sprinkles of Indian Paintbrush and Buttercups. 

Staley Cemetery, Early, Texas 2012

Staley Cemetery, Early, Texas 2012

If you’re looking for a good children’s book, try dePaola’s books.  The stories are wonderful and his illustrations are unique!  And you might just be tempted to visit Texas this spring.  There’s a whole culture of bluebonnet seekers/groupies with trails of the best pastures mapped out for visitors.  Texans take their bluebonnets seriously!  Texas A&M has a whole study dedicated to bluebonnets and their breeding. They’ve even come up with, yes, Maroon Bluebonnets. You won’t believe your eyes!

Update: see HERE for more Bluebonnet Stuff!! 🙂

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20 Responses to Bluebonnets from Tomie

  1. bccmee says:

    Those are beautiful flowers. I remember trying to see the first robin of the season, but the birds didn’t seem to be accurate predictors of the arrival of spring. 😉

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    • The Queen says:

      We watch the robins here too…mainly so I can see where they’re nesting and grab any eggs/shells that happen to fall out of a nest. Besides colored pencils, I also hoard robin egg shells. Can’t seem to help myself! 😀

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  2. servetus says:

    They are beautiful. Have you visited Austin’s Wildflower Center?

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  3. The Queen says:

    We’ve talked about going there for years, but never seem to get past Fredricksburg!! Maybe this year?!?!

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  4. Melinda Strickland says:

    I know a place close to the Wildflower Center where you could stay–free everything–just let us know when!

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  5. Brooke Giles says:

    I’m asking permission to use the close up photo of the bluebonnet for an Art competition. Would this be okay? Please email me as soon as possible.

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  6. Mary says:

    I’ve been to texas but I haven’t seen blue bonnets. what month of the year can you see them?

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    • The Queen says:

      April is the peak month for them and the best area to see them is the Hill Country…Llano, San Saba, Austin, Kerrville, Fredricksburg…just gorgeous! Hope you get to see them next year!!!

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  7. Vi says:

    Went to a convention in San Antonio this summer and at the ladies luncheon, one of the things they gave us was a package of Texas Bluebonnet seeds. I am from Kansas and after reading the above, decided I would send the package with a neighbor that is moving to Texas soon. She will live in Dallas. Will they grow there? If not in the ground, maybe in a pot. Let me know so I can tell her.

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    • The Queen says:

      You can start the seeds in a pot but equally successful in the ground. I’ve grown them in western KS but they have a hard time coming back up the next year, altho I have had a few thrive for 2-3 years. It’s best this fall just to throw them in the soil, rake over them lightly and be sure that if there aren’t any fall rains, water them once a week until the snow flies. Then sit back and hope to see those pretty 5 point leaves poking thru the soil in April! Dallas should be OK!

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  8. Pingback: Chickens and Fairytales | Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Country Life

  9. Andrea says:

    Oh Wow, I came across one of your images on google as I was searching for an image of a bluebonnet so that I may illustrate one, and beside the image I read the small excerpt about the book, “The Legend of the Bluebonnet!” I was given that book when I was about 7 by my uncle who recently passed away. He knew how much I loved books, and bought me two books from DePaola! I actually still have them at my parents house! I loved his style of illustrating, which is perhaps why I loved books as a child…more for their imagery and illustrations! Anyhow, thanks for reminding me! 🙂

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    • The Queen says:

      Isn’t he wonderful? I did not realize until last year that he has written kazillions of children’s books…some of which are Biblically inspired. Have seen the Indian Paintbrush book? I did a “rough” interpretation for a granddaughter’s birthday cake this weekend. Not finished yet but soon. Very soon. I posted about it last night…

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  10. Andrea says:

    I didn’t realize either? The other one I have is the story of Juan Diego, which is a religious book. I’ll have to check out his other books!…and I’ll also take a look at the cake you made!!

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  11. Pingback: Bluebonnet Legends | Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Country Life

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