I've written about the Native American legends and medicinal uses of Texas Hill Country wildflowers and also about the most prevalent of the flowers; this year I will swallow my pride as a Texas A&M Aggies grad and talk about the creation of the maroon bluebonnet some call aggie bonnets, as well as the other mutant colors whose birth has paved the way for bluebonnets to become a multi-million dollar domesticated bedding plant.
Domesticating bluebonnets was the initial brainchild of terminally ill Carroll Abbott who wanted a Texas flag made entirely of multi-colored bluebonnets for the 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial. Abbott aka Mr. Bluebonnet had dedicated the last 14 years of his life to his love of wildflower, starting Green Horizon seed company after a life in news, including as editor of the Kerrville times and in politics running campaigns including Connally's Whistle Stop train trip where he sent out 10k packages of seeds. He made his dream sound easy: "We already have the blue; everybody has seen the white bluebonnets; and some folks have seen the pink bluebonnets. All we have to do it collect seed of the white and multiply them. Then collect seed of the pink, grow them and select the darker hues (shades) until we get red. And good Lord, we have four years to do it!"
Jerry Parsons spearheaded the project and word was put out to the public on television to help find the white bluebonnet. When 1986 rolled around, the flag did indeed bloom at the San Antonio Texas A&M Aggies (though red drummondi had to be used in lieu of red bluebonnets) but sadly Abbott did not live to see it. Some 20 years later the red was perfected and in 2003 at Wildseed Farms 9,000 bluebonnets formed the Texas flag. Parsons joked, "I may not be the brightest boy on the block, but I stay the course!" Now, the different hues of bluebonnets include Barbara Bush Lavender, Alamo Fire (formerly "Texas Maroon" and you may hear them called "aggie-bonnets"), and Abbott Pink, honoring the late naturalist. Though Texans largely prefer their bluebonnets blue, the Europeans have taken to the red variety as an annual planting flower.