Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Gaillardias turning into globes

with 12 comments

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Two posts back you saw a flowering colony of Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels or Indian blankets; then you saw a closeup of an individual flower head. As time passes, the colorful red-and-yellow rays begin to fall off, leaving behind a globe-shaped seed head. That’s what you see happening en masse in this dense firewheel colony that I photographed on May 7 in St. Edward’s Park, a nature preserve in my northwestern part of Austin.

Some decades ago I internalized the Portuguese proverb “Uns sobem, outros descem,” which means “Some go up, others go down.” That simple philosophical statement applies to many things, but now I’ll let it apply to our native plants. As one species starts to decline, another springs up and replaces it in freshness: the fresh purple flowers arising amidst the fading firewheels—and while doing so making their first appearance in these pages—are horsemints, Monarda citriodora, which do have a mildly citrusy odor.

And for those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, I’ll add that points 6 and 15 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s picture.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 12, 2012 at 5:43 AM

12 Responses

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  1. The horsemint are starting their appearance here, also. I have a friend who picks them to dry, and they do make nice dried arrangements. It’s interesting how the globular types are starting to appear now.


    May 12, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    • So far I haven’t found any large colonies of horsemints but I’m still looking. In contrast, the firewheels, which have had a good spring here, are beginning to turn into large expanses of globular seed heads in several places that I’m aware of. As for dried horsemints, I’ve noticed that the species’ skeleton seed head remains often persist into the next year, even amid fresh flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2012 at 9:26 AM

  2. I love all Gaillardias, Steve. G suavis, honeyball, is one I try to include in floral arrangements. It doesn’t look like much but always smells lovely. Do you mind if we copy and save and share your photos? Some of them should be kept.

    John Mac Carpenter

    May 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    • Good to hear that you’re a fellow Gaillardia lover, John. I certainly don’t mind if you copy some pictures for display on your own computer. When it comes to sharing, I’d prefer that you send people links to the original posts (for example, today’s is https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/gaillardias-turning-into-globes). That way the people you’d like to share with can read the accompanying text and any information brought out in the comments, and they can also follow the links in the posts to find further information relevant to what they’re seeing in the photographs. You can see my background: once a teacher, always a teacher.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 12, 2012 at 11:35 AM

  3. I wouldn’t recognise the flowers but this reminds me very much of an English meadow in full bloom. Was it buzzing with insects too? Lovely shot.

    Finn Holding

    May 13, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    • Yes, there were many insects of many kinds, including lots of small yellow butterflies. The rain this winter brought out the plants and the insects that depend on the plants. From what you’ve had, I’d be happy to see an English meadow in full bloom; maybe someday I’ll get the chance.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 13, 2012 at 8:36 AM

  4. […] or Indian blankets; then came a closeup of a single flower head. Next you saw two views of the following stage, as the plants were losing their colorful rays and turning into globe-shaped seed heads. Now […]

  5. Seurat?


    May 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM

  6. I love how nature provides an ongoing show throughout the seasons!


    May 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

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