Bluebonnet season is here! Here’s how to plan your pup’s photo shoot.
By Lucy J. Phillips, Photo courtesy of Hannah J. Phillips
I have recently seen a few photos of my furry friends posing in fields of wildflowers. Since my human and I are not from Texas originally, I wondered if you could explain this spring phenomenon? I would love to tell my human how and where to stage a similar spring photo shoot so I can stay on trend with all my fellow photogenic friends this season.
Frank the French Bulldog
Ah yes, ‘tis the season for a good romp in the wildflowers. In March, I saw them popping up on the side of the highway when I stuck my nose out the window on our most recent road trip. If you are not from Texas, then let me start by sharing some fun facts about our beautiful state flower and the annual tradition of the bluebonnet photo shoot.
In case you are colorblind and haven’t already spotted the fields of blue along MoPac, a bluebonnet is the common name for one of six Lupinus species. Collectively, they represent the state flower of Texas. Locals have long staged family photo sessions in fields of these spring blossoms, especially at Easter, decked out in their Sunday best. It’s a particularly Texan rite of passage, and I would argue that once you have staged your own photo shoot, you’ll be able to officially claim your Texas citizenship.
There are several factors that determine when bluebonnets will bloom at peak season, which varies from year to year. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the species germinate in the fall and their rosettes grow through the winter before blossoming after warm rains in spring. Cool snaps in spring weather can slow down or shorten a peak season, while an earlier arrival of warm weather can produce “oceans of blue” in a matter of days. In general, you can count on seeing them between late March and early April.
While traveling out of town during bluebonnet season this year will most likely not be an option because of COVID-19, bookmark these Texas gems for next year’s adventures.
The Texas Hill Country boasts some of the best bluebonnet patches in Texas. The town of Burnet, Texas dubs itself the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, hosting an annual festival featuring parades, entertainment and shopping. Just 20 minutes down the road, Kingsland, Texas claims its own bluebonnet status with an official town slogan of, “Where the Rivers Flow and the Bluebonnets Grow.” Be prepared to pull over on your drive along the scenic Farm-to-Market Road 1431; the best patches bloom along the highway.
Burnet may be the Bluebonnet Capital, but Ennis, Texas is proudly known as the Official Bluebonnet City in Texas. Located south of Dallas, the little town boasts 40-plus miles of the Official Texas Bluebonnet Trail. For a truly Texan experience, head east of Austin to Brenham, home of Blue Bell Ice Cream. After touring the factory and sampling a dollar scoop, use the Wildflower Watch website to navigate the helpful wildflower map for all the best local sightings.
Sticking closer to home, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a lovely place to snap photos, and you can usually find a field or two in McKinney Falls State Park. Of course, don’t forget your own neighborhood! Last year, I staged my spring shoot in a patch of beauties that popped up in front of a neighbor’s house on our street. With the right camera angle, you don’t have to wander far to snap a great shot of these gorgeous heralds of spring.
The first thing to know about staging the best spring photos is that flowers are friends, not food! Bluebonnets are toxic to both humans and dogs if consumed, so sniff at your leisure but do not eat the wildflowers. Second, if you find a pleasant patch of flowers along the highway, be sure to watch out for bees and snakes on your adventure. Nothing ruins a good photo shoot like an emergency trip to the vet. Finally, to get the best shot, my human brings a toy or treat to hold behind the camera. Whether on a day trip or a neighborhood walk, I am usually hot and overstimulated by the time the camera comes out, but I’ll smile for a treat.
All the best in your adventures!
If you have a dog-related question for Lucy, reach out and follow her on Instagram @asklucydog.