Blooming Destinations

Blooming Destinations

By Sonia Duggan

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and if you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom or grandmother in your life why not plan a special trip to honor them this year? We all know flowers and lunch are nice but how about escaping town to visit a place where everything is blooming?

If you and your special honoree love wildflowers, plan a trip to Fredricksburg to the nation’s largest wildflower farm. With 200 acres of wildflower fields and more than 1,000 cultivated acres, Wildseed Farms is abundant with beauty from March through October. The farm is free to tour daily from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and their Trial Gardens and display gardens are accessible by a ½ mile walking trail that is wheelchair friendly. In addition, there are beautiful sitting areas perfect for a photo op! Love butterflies and the plants they find most attractive? The farm has a seasonal garden planted just for that reason.

Started in 1983, the farm was founded by John R. Thomas, a former owner of a turf seeding business who was motivated to plant wildflowers after noticing the demand was ever increasing in Texas. Wildflowers were painstakingly planted in rows on large acreage and Thomas and his crew developed machinery to plant and harvest the tiny seeds. Today, rows of blooming wildflowers, a garden center, gift shop, winery and beer garden are available for guests 7 days a week.

The garden center is one of the largest in the Texas Hill Country. Visitors can purchase an assortment of native Texas annuals, perennials, herbs, tropicals, cactus and succulents. Glazed pottery and Mexican Talavera pottery is also available. Don’t forget to purchase wildflower seeds or seed mixes specially formulated for your planting region before you leave.

Hungry or just want to relax for a spell? Take mom to the Brewbonnet Biergarten for a cold beer and enjoy locally made snacks, salsas, jams or jellies, or try the famous peach ice cream made from Stonewall peaches. If you happen to visit on a Saturday afternoon you can listen to live music from 1 – 4 p.m.

If you’re more of a wine lover, head over to the Wedding Oak Winery on the property and sample some wine made from the farm’s homegrown variety of grapes. They are currently growing varietals including Syrah, Viongnier, Trebbiano plus many more.

Want to shop for gifts and home décor? Well, they have that too! The gift shop is loaded with a wide variety of seasonal gifts including gardening goodies, patio and home décor, clothing, jewelry and more. Bring your mom, your wallet, and a plan for a lazy afternoon.

Don’t worry about looking for a place to stay nearby. Spend the night at the Fredricksburg Herb Farm and book one of the 14 Sunday Haus Cottages on the property, just four blocks from the shopping district. The cottages are patterned after three of the most popular historical designs. Each one includes a king bed, bathroom with shower, Internet, ceiling fans, rockers and porches. Book in advance for a guaranteed place to stay for your adventure.

As you know, a great place to stay requires an equally impressive place to eat. Try Farm Haus Bistro, housed in a historic rock house on the property. Large glass windows overlook beautiful gardens. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menus change often and local wines add a special touch to the cuisine.

Need a spa day after all the walking? Check out Nature’s Spa located on the property. There are a variety of massages offered as well as facials, waxing, nail treatments and more in a beautiful 5,000 square foot stone facility.

Want more wildflowers? Take a trip to Austin with mom and visit the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center during the month of May for optimal viewing. The Center is just 12 miles southwest of Austin and features 9 acres of gardens, 800 species of native Texas plants and a 16-acre arboretum.  Guided garden tours are available daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. based on space availability If you travel now through the end of May you should see a variety of wildflowers including the Texas Star, Blue Curls, Giant spiderwart, Indian paintbrush, purple coneflower and much more.

Sustainable landscapes and resources to aid conservation and buildings on the property are all carefully thought out at the Center. It is a place where native flora and fauna are abundant. Staff members have recorded more than 143 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, and 1,800 species of insects living on the property.

If you plan your visit on May 13, you might be able to sneak in and hear Michael Eason, author of “Wildflowers of Texas” speak about the wonders of Texas’ favorite flora. Get his book signed at the Wildflower Center Gift Store then stop by the Wildflower Café for a light lunch or beverage before you leave.

Does Mom love lavender? Skip the expensive trip to Provence and travel to Gainesville to Lavender Ridge Farms. The farm officially opened for the season one month ago and is known as a lavender, cut-flower, and herb farm. Irises and other seasonal crops are all available to pick seasonally at Lavender Ridge. The lavender typically blooms around the end of May and continues through early to mid-July.

The farm currently has two acres of lavender planted and more lavender, new herbs, scented geraniums and cut flowers are being added all the time. A variety of herbs, perennials, annuals, and native plants, handmade herbal soaps and lavender products are available in and around the Gift Shop located on the premises.

If you need a rest and a bite to eat, stop by the Café Lavender for lunch and sit on the screened in patio nestled among the tall trees overlooking the lavender field. Hummingbirds are a common sight to see as they drink from the feeders surrounding the café. Kids are welcome and opportunities are available for them to learn about agriculture and farming if you wish to tote them along.

Make Mother’s Day bloom this year in an untraditional way. Surprise your mom, or yourself, and take a drive and visit a place where you can enjoy the unfettered beauty of Texas flowers along with lunch, shopping, and maybe a glass of wine.

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