Bluebonnets are a BFD in Texas. I’ve lived in other places and I know that all the states have state flowers and flower enthusiasts. I’m here to tell you that its not the same as the swell of pride the average Texan feels when these little blue flowers start springing up. We are kind of stupid about them.
I have two stories to tell about the history of bluebonnets in Texas. I have not checked on their historical accuracy and I never will. I like these stories and I’m gonna tell them whether they are true or not.
At the turn of the century Texas needed to pick a state flower. The men who ran things and made important decisions like this wanted a flowering cactus of some sort or another. I’m sure it was a very manly and phallic plant with very manly and phallic cactus spines. But the high society ladies said no, they would prefer this little blue spring flower (at the time it was called a buffalo clover). The gentlemen probably thought it was a terrible choice but being gentleman said “Yes, of course, what ever you think is best.”
So Texas got its pretty blue flowers.
Later on, in the early 1970’s I think, the men who ran things and made important decisions learned that there were in fact two species of bluebonnets. They had to figure out which one exactly was the state flower. So they asked Lady Bird Johnson, the First Lady of Texas to advise them. (She was also the First Lady of the United States but that is not nearly as important.) Lady Bird actually was a recognized authority on native flowering plants in Texas. She told them that yes there were two species of bluebonnets. More so there were several sub-species and that (at the time) botanists recognized seven varieties of bluebonnets.
So which did the Texas legislature choose to be the state flower? They didn’t. They wrote a law that says both species and any future species yet to be determined that even look like bluebonnets are the state flower.
“All your bluebonnets are belong to us.”
That’s the law.
They also wrote laws to protect the bluebonnets. Actually it’s a law that protects all wild flowers but most Texans don’t know or care about that. They just know bluebonnets are protected by law. (Yes this is a long post. Yes its all about bluebonnets. No there is no yarn. I’m on a ramble.) The bluebonnet law isn’t like traffic laws. People obey this one. Which leads me to my next story about the importance of bluebonnets in Texas.
Being an talented gardener in a small town anywhere makes you a minor celebrity. You’ve probably encountered that before. My mom is a very talented gardener and she lives in a very small town and she grows tons bluebonnets in her front yard. In Texas. This makes her the bomb.
All spring people drive by her house. They take pictures. They ask for tips on how to grow bluebonnets. They come by in the middle of the night to dig a few up and run off with them.
A few years ago mom asked if she could extend the bluebonnet bed into her neighbor’s front yard. Her neighbor, being a confirmed bachelor and a gentleman, said “Yes, of course, what ever you think is best.” And so she did. Then there were two homes with bluebonnets in the front yard. The town was happy.
This year she asked if she could extend the bluebonnets into to the next property which is an old stone church. The little old ladies of that congregation, who run the place of course, thought that was a wonderful idea. And so she did.
All winter long my mom tended to all these bluebonnets. That’s the secret ya know. You have to water them in the dead of winter if you want an big show of bluebonnets in the spring. Then, about a week before the first bloom, all bluebonnets in front of that stone church were mowed down.
Mowed down by a county road maintenance crew. Yep. The government came in and took out those bluebonnets.
As you can imagine the people in mom’s town were mightily pissed off. Phone calls were made. Facebook posts were made. Complaints to the county judge were made. Now my mom’s bluebonnets were untouched and so were her neighbor’s so all is not lost. But there are already plans to put up signs in front of the church that say “DON’T MOW HERE!” for next year. It will not happen again.
Yep. Bluebonnets are a BFD in Texas. I’m pretty sure those hapless guys on the country road maintenance crew were summarily executed for their crime. After all there is a law protecting bluebonnets. They should have known better.
Happy Spring from all of us in Texas.