Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Snow at the end of August

with 20 comments

Snow-on-the-mountain; click for greater detail.

Today marks three months since Another Beginning appeared as the first article in this Portraits of Wildflowers blog. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating not only the 102 posts so far, but also a small victory this week in the everlasting struggle against the needless destruction of nature that I’ve mentioned so many times in these pages over the past 13 weeks. Those of you who read the post on August 27th about the mowing down of a large stand of snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia marginata, may be pleased with this follow-up.

On August 29th I e-mailed the director of the parks district that includes Brushy Creek Lake Park, explaining what had happened and pointing him to the August 27th post. The next day he called me and said that after my e-mail he went out to the park and confirmed the details for himself. He told me that he has issued new orders: from now on, the large meadow in the park will be mowed only once a year, probably in late November. If a situation should arise that a mower thinks might warrant mowing at another time, that person will have to get permission from the director or assistant director. Let’s hope that the new policy goes forth as planned, and that no mower chooses to ignore it or claims after-the-fact ignorance of it following another act of destruction.

Two days after that phone call I went back to the park. It was August 31, the last day of the same month on whose first day I witnessed the devastation of the large snow-on-the-prairie colony. Although the great meadow was still a sorry sight, with only a few plants having sprung up in the ruins of the mowing, I found a few smaller groups of snow-on-the-prairie farther west that escaped the mowing and had continued to grow and flourish. I took pictures, including the one above, of those plants, some of which were as tall as I am.

In my previous posts I didn’t explain the name snow-on-the-mountain, so let me do that now. The “snow” is obviously the white bracts and other flower-related structures the plant produces when it matures. The “mountain” in the name is a reference to the Texas Hill Country that begins in Austin and stretches westward. A closely related and equally photogenic species, Euphorbia bicolor, grows on the relatively flat east side of Austin, and is therefore called snow-on-the-prairie.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2011 at 6:00 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Good work! Next year’s meadow thanks you, as do I.


    September 4, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    • You’re welcome! It’s fortunate that you know meadowspeak and were able to send along the meadow’s future gratitude as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2011 at 8:37 AM

  2. Good on ya!


    September 4, 2011 at 10:00 AM

  3. Bravo! I’m so glad to read about the follow up to your meadow. It’s encouraging that the director took the time to investigate, and as you said: let’s hope that the policy is actually implemented. It is inspiring to see an example of how we can, one person at a time, make positive differences in conservation efforts.


    September 4, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    • Diane Sherrill (a native plant person from Williamson County, where Brushy Creek is) also spoke with the parks director, and the fact that he heard from more than one person must have helped.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM



    September 4, 2011 at 11:24 AM

  5. Steve, I am astounded, and delighted! I may never get to see this area, but just to know that you’ve been able to talk to, and convince, someone in charge to CHANGE the future for this area for the better is comforting. Hurrah for you and Diane!


    September 4, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    • Now I get to say, as people do, that I’m cautiously optimistic. Let’s hope things play out for the best.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2011 at 1:34 PM

  6. So grateful to hear that your phone call with the park director yielded positive results. It will be wonderful to see the true value of natural growth in that area.


    September 4, 2011 at 5:26 PM

  7. Thanks for the follow-up of your actions and results. Hopefully this will actually be followed next year.



    September 5, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    • Thanks for your good wishes, Nancy. I hope things play out in the way that the parks director outlined.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 5, 2011 at 1:28 PM

  8. Excellent news and an interesting plant!

    Watching Seasons

    September 5, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    • Yes to both, Tracy. This morning I was at two new (to me) locations a couple of miles east of Brushy Creek Lake Park taking even more pictures of some stands of snow-on-the-prairie.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 5, 2011 at 6:28 PM

  9. […] 1, disconsolately on August 27, wistfully for the two days after that, and with renewed hope on September 4 (and I hope you’ll forgive me for attributing emotions to the plant as it made its […]

  10. […] That led not to a picture of snow on a flower in the mountains but to snow-on-the-mountain flowers. […]

  11. I came upon this post in the WP recommendations and wonder how the parks dept is doing with the mowing rules?


    August 25, 2019 at 6:16 AM

    • I wonder how WP’s algorithm chose this old post. Coincidentally, yesterday I photographed the closely related snow-on-the prairie, but I haven’t posted anything about either species that might trigger a recommendation from WP. Maybe the fact that the post is from roughly the same time of year had something to do with it.

      The park in question is in a suburb just north of Austin. I haven’t been there in a recent September so I don’t know if the stand of snow-on-the-mountain ever returned to the size and density it had in 2011.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 25, 2019 at 6:51 AM

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