Posted by: kerryl29 | June 7, 2021

Texas Bluebonnet Bloom, Part II

If my bluebonnet experience in Brenham was less than phenomenal, I had higher hopes for Ennis. A town of about 20,000 located roughly 35 miles south of Dallas, Ennis is the official “bluebonnet city of Texas” (as proclaimed by the Texas legislature in 1997). The community has a three-day long weekend bluebonnet festival every year, timed at the estimated peak of the bloom (typically in mid-April). An official website has recommended driving “bluebonnet trails” in the countryside near the town and provides regular updates on the status of the bloom.

Bluebonnet Field Panorama, Ellis County, Texas
Bluebonnet Field Panorama, Ellis County, Texas

This year’s festival–yes, there was a bluebonnet festival in Ennis in 2021–was held April 16-18. According to the Ennis website, bluebonnet peak (delayed there, as everywhere in Texas this year, due to the massive late winter freeze that hit the entire state), was expected to be during the festival or shortly thereafter. With no personal familiarity with the area, and given the three-hour one-way drive from the Houston area to Ennis, I decided to make this a multi-day exploration. I would drive up there on Sunday, the 18th–the last day of the festival–explore that afternoon and evening, give myself the entire next day and the early morning of the 20th. I’d drive back to the Houston area on Tuesday, after a sunrise shoot.

Bluebonnet Field, Ellis County, Texas

I took both of my camera systems with me, for some reason. At the time of my departure, I didn’t expect to get a second Z7ii camera body before departing for a trip to the desert southwest on April 27, so I planned to shoot with my Nikon F-mount system on that trip. Given that expectation, I didn’t see the point of working with the Z-system while in Ennis, but for some reason I decided to take it with me. This turned out to be fortuitous, as I’ll explain later.

Bluebonnet Field, Ellis County, Texas

I arrived in Ennis about mid-afternoon and quickly started the process of exploring the area. There were two spots on the list of recommended public bluebonnet locations and I made a quick foray to the first–a public nature area. It was pretty much a total debacle. The place was a zoo, the light was awful and–because there had been unfettered access to the bluebonnets for several days–the flowers had been pretty well trampled. What’s more, the area wasn’t all that conducive to wide angle landscape imagery; there were too many people and too many man made distractions (utility poles and the like). I poked around for maybe 30 minutes without ever taking my equipment out of the car and then left. It was time to explore the “North Trail” driving route, located to the northeast of the town itself, and hope for better opportunities.

Bluebonnet Field, Ellis County, Texas

I drove around this area in the steadily improving light of the late afternoon and evening, stopping numerous times and marking locations on my GPS. Given that it was still the weekend, there plenty of people out and about but the number declined as the evening wore on.

Bluebonnet Sunset, Ellis County, Texas

While photographing, I ran into many of the same issues that had greeted me in Brenham, most notably the fact that all of the fields of flowers I found were located on private property. But while this stumbling block remained, the fact is that I found far, far more fields of flowers around Ennis than I did in Washington County, where Brenham is located. What’s more, these flower fields had many more flowers than the Brenham fields did and that meant that there were a lot more options. What’s more, some of the fields weren’t fenced; I’m sure they were still on private property, even though many of them weren’t posted. I don’t traipse onto any land that I even suspect is privately owned, and this occasion was no exception, but without fences it was possible to go right up to the edge of the fields, allowing me to get very close to the flowers and not have to worry about encumbrances. I did see people–lots of people–wandering into some of these fields , but I very deliberately did not follow their example. (I should note that I never saw anyone scale a fence during my time in Ellis County.)

Bluebonnet Sunset, Ellis County, Texas

I was pretty excited by what I saw in my first few hours in the Ennis area. I hadn’t even glimpsed the South Trail, but I’d already taken note of at least a half dozen locations that I deemed highly promising on the North Trail route. There was a bald sky at sunset, but that didn’t keep me from photographing at a spot that included a wetland that I discovered along a back road. The area was fenced, but I was still able to find a couple of spots that provided decent vantage points.

Bluebonnet Wetland at Sunset, Ellis County, Texas

With a scouted location for Monday’s sunrise and all day to explore both the South Trail and the other public spot set aside for bluebonnets in Ennis proper, the prospect of much lighter crowds given that it would be a weekday and a forecast for partly cloudy skies and very light winds all that next day, I couldn’t wait for dawn’s first light.

Bluebonnet Sunset, Ellis County, Texas

Responses

  1. If you go in quest of bluebonnets next spring, you’ve learned that there’s a great advantage in going during the early portion of peak bloom to avoid the inevitable depredations that come from people plunking their kids and themselves down and making a mess of the flowers. Given your policy of not trespassing, do you ever ask a landowner if it’s okay for you to take pictures there? Two years ago during the superbloom below San Antonio we were on a country road in front of a flowerful field on someone’s property. It just so happened that the woman who lived there drove out onto the road at that time, so I asked her if it was all right to go in and take pictures. She said it was. A little later, while I was doing that, her grown-up son came by, and he invited me over to his nearby homestead to take pictures there as well.

    • “If you go in quest of bluebonnets next spring, you’ve learned that there’s a great advantage in going during the early portion of peak bloom to avoid the inevitable depredations that come from people plunking their kids and themselves down and making a mess of the flowers. ”

      And dogs. Don’t forget about dogs in fields of bluebonnets. (Saw that more than a time or two this spring.)

      I do, on very rare occasions–very much like the type you described–ask for permission to tread on private property. It’s a serendipitous thing, when the landowner is present and things get off to a cordial start. I think that’s happened to me twice over the years, once in New Hampshire and once in Michigan.

  2. […] first few hours scouting for bluebonnets in Ellis County had gone pretty well. I had covered basically the entire […]


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