Spring has hit full stride in Central Texas, and while Austin and Travis County remain under a shelter in place order to contain the spread of COVID-19, the essential activities we’re allowed to leave home for include engaging in outdoor activity. If you spend time outside, perhaps in one of Austin’s many area parks, the order also requires that you do so safely.
So, that limits your options. No pickup soccer games or drumming circles, no climbing on the playscape. One thing you can do is soak up all the beautiful blooming plants around Austin right now.
What's in bloom?
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center botanist Andrea DeLong-Amaya says plants that bloom in April include pink evening primrose, wine cups, salvias, and brown-eyed Susans. In May, Austinites will start seeing Mexican blanket and horsemint blooms.
If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for or at, find photos of these and other native plants on the center’s Find Plants webpage.
Where to find wildflowers in Austin
In the open areas around Zilker Park, some Mexican buckeye are still in bloom and those that are past bloom have interesting seeds, the source of the plant’s name. Look for less common red buckeyes in the shady understory. The park also contains blooming redbud trees, elbow bush, and red and white yuccas.
Pease Park and the Shoal Creek Trail offer a wealth of native plants of many types. Right now, find blooming Indian Blanket, also called Firewheel, and Mexican Hats on the eastern side of Shoal Creek along Lamar Blvd just south of the 24th Street bridge. Wildflowers including evening primroses and bluebonnets are blooming on the southwest corner of 29th Street and Lamar. (Bluebonnets, an early spring bloomer, likely won’t be around much longer, though.) The Pease Park Conservancy actively seeded wildflowers in these areas.
In the Pease Park garden near the low water crossing of Shoal Creek at the north end of Kingsbury Commons, blooming flowers include poppies and bluebonnets. Redbud trees bloom here and there beside the trail and yellow acacia trees along the sidewalk on Lamar from 15th to 29th streets. These, too, are on the tail end of their blooming season.
Ivey Kaiser, executive director of the Shoal Creek Conservancy reminds trail users that trail etiquette is more important than ever; be aware of your surroundings and other people, keep six feet or more away from others, and announce yourself when approaching someone from behind on the trail.
Wildflowers from the comfort of your couch
Can’t get outside? Enjoy a virtual tour of what’s blooming around the state on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Flickr page, populated with wildflower sightings from state parks and wildlife management areas, or its Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, where anyone can share photos of the great outdoors.
And something to look forward to: the annual City Nature Challenge April 24-27. With the competition aspect put on hold for this year, this event lends itself to getting out in nature while maintaining safe social distancing practices. Let nature provide us all a little solace in these strange times.