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My life in... flowers

Our time in Texas didn't get mentioned in my previous post.  North Texas does have trees, of course, but it's not big tree country.  It used to be prairie.  There is grass, and cacti, and flowers.  Even the cacti have flowers.


Transplanting myself from cool damp British woodlands to hot dry Texas prairies meant learning a whole new wildflower vocabulary.  Instead of Cowslips and Ragged Robin, there was Turk's Cap and Indian Blanket.  In the spring, you didn't go to take photos in the bluebell woods, but among fields of bluebonnets.

English bluebell woods

Texas bluebonnets

So much of the original prairie has gone now, that there is a strong movement towards preserving what is left, and planting native species.  We visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centre in Austin, which is stunning - lovely buildings merging beautifully with the surrounding scenery.  And I had a go at cultivating my own patch of native flowers in the backyard.


Even when you don't think you're a nature expert, it is disconcerting to move to a place where all the flowers are unfamiliar.  

As a kid, I remember sitting on the school field making daisy chains and seeing how far we could shoot plaintain flowers.


Snapdragon flowers could be pinched to open and shut like little mouths, and of course my friends and I had several tries at making rose petal perfume, always resulting in a foul-smelling sludge.

All these small interactions build up a background level of familiarity, which is suddenly lost when you move to a different country.  The good thing is that even the most common plants and animals become interesting, because they are new.  We were enamoured by possums (regarded as a nuisance) and Graham was desperate to see a rattlesnake, which many Texans will kill if possible.

Then, when you move home, the familiar here seems exciting as well.  We went for a walk during our first summer back in the UK, and it felt like hiking through a jungle!  I had forgotten just how enthusiastically everything grows in the short summer season, fuelled by plenty of rain.

A British jungle!

I feel like I should be writing something more profound, but surely this is enough: Flowers are beautiful.  I'm so glad we live in a world with so many kinds of flowers.

Purple coneflower, Texas


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