Texans are passionate about their state. We brag (a lot), threaten to secede (again), and throw around our considerable collective weight (when beneficial).
Texas is so big you can drive all day and not cross its borders. The state includes many distinctly different geographic regions: deserts, mountains, giant canyons, fertile valleys, piney woods, coastal areas. Politics–well, current Texas legislature not withstanding, there’s a lot of variation there, too.
But every spring, despite the Lone Star State’s many and awesome variations, we Texans unite around a deep, abiding, and intensely passionate love.
State Pride in a Wildflower
This morning’s gentle sunlight hit my homegrown patch of bluebonnets so beautifully I paused to admire. The tall blue and white spires, practically sparkling against a spray of green, were most definitely Insta-worthy. There was also the day I had to stop for diamond-like dewdrops, trapped and trembling on those same leaves. And I’ve celebrated–and, naturally, documented–the first recognizable plants peeking out from amidst the winter-cold gravel of my yard.
Patches of bluebonnets adorn yards all around Austin. We love our state flower and spring–especially Easter weekend–brings families out in force, capturing photos of loved ones nestled among the flowers.
Because we’re Texans, everybody’s got an opinion about this activity. Feel free to use “do you know any good places for bluebonnet photos” as a conversation piece. Be prepared that some abhor all that tramping about (“You’ll crush them!”). Others view a “baby in bluebonnets” photo as just shy of a formal Texas birth certificate.
Snopes.com even had to weigh in on bluebonnets. Who else could be trusted to, once and for all, debunk the widespread myth that picking the state flower is illegal?
Texas officially adopted the bluebonnet (L.texensis) in 1901, later amending that to “any other variety of bluebonnet not heretofore recorded” in 1971. We can thank the lovely Lady Bird Johnson for our state’s modern appreciation for spectacular blue fields, blanketed medians, home gardens, and undying bluebonnet passion.
As First Lady during LBJ’s presidential term (1963–1969), Mrs. Johnson worked to beautify the nation’s capital. In the 1970s, she focused those philanthropic efforts on Austin, her home state’s capital city. Particularly, she helped transform the less-than-lovely area around what was known as “Town Lake.” Note that it wasn’t until 2007, when Mrs. Johnson passed away at 94, that Austin received the family’s approval to change the name to “Lady Bird Lake.”
Mrs. Johnson encouraged cultivating native plants–including annual wildflowers, like the bluebonnet–and preserving the gorgeously rolling Hill Country scenery that makes any true Texan’s heart swell.
I can’t help but wonder: Do different states feel quite as strongly about a flower?
Would less prideful people devotedly scatter seeds, carefully cultivate patches, and obsessively photograph their anointed blossoms quite so fiercely?
This native Texan is pretty sure no other place takes its state flower to this level. Should you disagree, I bet some 28+ million folks have got my back right now. Especially with what promises to be a beautiful Easter weekend on the horizon.
Enjoy those bluebonnets, y’all!
Learn More About the Texas State Flower
(growing your own bluebonnets plus tips for taking those family photos)
(every dedicated Austin runner owes Mrs. Johnson an eternal debt of gratitude)
Not sure about your state flower?