Driving yesterday morning on Mopac, one of the two north-south expressways in Austin, I though I might have glimpsed a native wildflower called gaura on the slope to my right, but at car speed, and with invasive wild mustard beginning to come up in many places, I couldn’t tell for sure what I’d seen. A little while later I came back to the area and parked on a side street so I could walk over to the embankment. Sure enough, I did soon find one and then another flowering gaura plant, Gaura coccinea, and the more I walked, the more of them I found: all in all there must have been dozens along a stretch of a few blocks. So, like the Engelmann daisy and the coreopsis of the last few posts, here’s another springtime species that is blooming at least a month before its typical time. And unlike those, this one doesn’t look at all the worse for wear in its early flowering.
Gaura flowers have a very pleasant fragrance and a curiously complex structure, only the latter of which I can bring you here. As the four white petals age, they turn rosy, something you can also see in this photograph. What you can’t see is the EMS vehicle that pulled over on the access road near me when I was lying on the ground taking my pictures; someone in the heavy traffic passing by had called 911 to report what apparently looked like a man who had collapsed on the embankment. Whoever you were, you meant well, but shouldn’t you maybe have pulled over to investigate first? The EMS driver seemed amused when I told him I was photographing wildflowers. Yes, the things we endure for our art.
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman