Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 23 comments

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Some high-capacity power lines that run across my northwestern part of Austin have made most of the land beneath them a right-of-way that happily isn’t likely to be built on. Over the five years since I became aware of this area and have been taking pictures there, I never noticed anyone messing with it, but at the beginning of last December I was dismayed to find that not only had a wide swath of that strip of land been mowed, but it had been mowed so close to the ground that all I could see was desolation. But what was isn’t always what will be: plenty of rain fell in the ensuing months, and when I returned to the place on March 27 of this year I was heartened to see that the lower portion of the area was reviving nicely. Things were even better when I went back on April 3, as you can confirm here.

The prominent globular clusters of flowers are antelope-horns, Asclepias asperula, which is the most common milkweed in Austin. The white flowers in the foreground are blackfoot daisies, Melampodium leucanthum, and the small white flowers scattered all through the background are corn-salad, a strangely named plant in the genus Valerianella. You’re seeing all three of these in these pages for the first time today. The yellow flowers are four-nerve daisies, Tetraneuris linearifolia, and the violet-colored flowers are wild garlic, Allium drummondii, both of which you’ve seen here before.

Notice the red admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, at the lower left. During the entire time I spent taking pictures, scores of butterflies, especially small ones, and many other insects kept flying around to visit the thousands of flowers within easy range. This is what a Texas wildflower meadow is supposed to look and be like.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 8, 2012 at 5:31 AM

23 Responses

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  1. Happy Easter Steve and Eve!!! There is always hope, isn’t there??? So much desolation but always hope…

    Agnes Plutino

    April 8, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    • And Happy Easter to you too, Agnes. I thought a post about resurgence, including a picture with these colors, would be appropriate for today.

      I must be psychic, because I was thinking about you at around the time WordPress shows you posted this comment, even though I didn’t see it till now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 8, 2012 at 8:13 AM

  2. Very pretty meadow of flowers.


    April 8, 2012 at 8:38 AM

  3. Nature can be so resilient. Happy Easter to you and your family Steve.


    April 8, 2012 at 9:26 AM

  4. Sometimes the wild things are irrepressible. And aren’t we blessed for it?
    Lovely, Steve.
    ~ Lynda
    Just thinking, but perhaps an article in the local newspaper, with photographs of course, would begin an interest or resurgence of interest in the flora that surrounds you? (This would, of course, include the photos of what the Mad Mower Men have wrought for comparison!)


    April 8, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    • Good word: irrepressible. The same for your alliterative Mad Mower Men.

      Thanks for your suggestion, Lynda. I’ve thought about an article not so much about the mowing, from which nature often recovers, but about the loss of habitat to development; no wildflowers spring back up from underneath an office building. I have a little collection of before/after pictures of sites that I could use to make my point.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 8, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      • Exactly, and I hope you do! Just this week, I sadly watched the fellow across the road mow down his back acre. It was literally yellow in what looked something like wallflowers, though I am not certain what they were. I always enjoy seeing them and he always mows them down in their prime! We had a few of these lovelies growing here when we moved in… Bob killed them with Round-up. He never did it again (!!!) but they never came back either.

        I will enjoy reading your article. ~ L


        April 8, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      • If I can find an outlet for such an article. We’ll see.

        I’m sorry your yellow flowers never came back.

        Steve Schwartzman

        April 8, 2012 at 10:07 AM

  5. Beautiful field of flowers! Thanks for sharing!

    Anne Camille

    April 8, 2012 at 6:46 PM

  6. Really pretty photo! 🙂

    Carol Welsh

    April 8, 2012 at 8:29 PM

  7. So very fitting at the time of Passover and Easter, when thoughts of rescue and redemption are on the minds of many . . .


    April 9, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    • Yes, that’s why I decided to schedule it for this date. I thought about the title “Resurrection,” but that sounded too obvious, so I went with “Resurgence,” which comes from the same source. I spent a couple of hours at this site again today and can report that things are still going great there.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 9, 2012 at 5:16 PM

  8. You know, you’re accomplishing something else with your blog. This marvelous meadow looks just as appealing to me as bluebonnets ever did – and perhaps even moreso.

    And your exchange with Lynda reminded me of something I learned about Nash Prairie. There have been over 300 species of flora catalogued there. Just across the road, where cattle regularly graze, there are a dozen. Not only the city-dwellers need to be sensitized!


    April 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    • It’s great that this meadow looks as appealing as—or even more appealing than—the more familiar sight of dense bluebonnets. Your observation about the number of species on opposite sides of the road is one that native plant people have made so very often, with sadness for the hugely larger area that’s on the wrong side of the road, so to speak. You’re right that it isn’t only city-dwellers who need to be taught, alas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM

  9. […] you remember the lush wildflower meadow that appeared here on April 8? Prominent among the species pictured then was antelope-horns, […]

  10. […] once in these pages, when it was a small element in the lower-left corner of a panorama showing a resurgent wildflower meadow. In that photograph the butterfly was on a blackfoot daisy, but the picture coincidentally gave […]

  11. […] on June 25, 2011, in the same meadow that got mowed to the ground half a year later but that recovered in the spring of this year. For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points […]

  12. […] The verticality so predominant (oh, how these art people talk!) in yesterday’s picture of a standing cypress inspires me to double up now and show you a second upright species, Schoenocaulon texanum, known as green lily or Texas sabadilla. Here you see two green lily flower spikes that were growing side by side on May 8 in the right-of-way beneath the large power lines that cross a portion of my northwest Austin neighborhood. This was the area that got heavily mowed late last year and that looked desolate for months before coming back to life in the spring of 2012. […]

  13. […] As for location, this was on the right-of-way beneath the large power lines that cross a portion of my neighborhood to the west of Morado Circle in northwest Austin. Last spring, in a view a couple of hundred yards further west, you saw some fresh antelope-horns milkweed plants that were part of a resurgent wildflower meadow. […]

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