Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Autumn in spring

with 29 comments

Click for greater size and clarity.

Those of you who were visiting this blog last fall may remember a native wildflower called goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, that appeared in posts on October 19 and October 20. Normally the cold weather of December signals the species to stop flowering, though a few individual plants may linger on into January. I say normally, because in January and February of 2012 we didn’t really have a winter, and I noticed that a small goldeneye plant by the side of a street in my neighborhood kept producing a few flowers even through March. Only then, when all sorts of spring-flowering plants had been going going crazy for some time already, did the goldeneye finally stop.

Or so I thought. On April 30, as I was driving past the place where that plant was, I caught a glimpse of yellow off to my left. I assumed it was some non-native lantana that I see there every year, but when I went back the next day to check, I was astonished to discover that the goldeneye had started flowering again. You can say that it was half a year late or half a year early, and that the earth was on the wrong side of its orbit around the sun, but there the flowers were, undeterred by any astronomical or human calendar.* Naturally I stayed to take pictures of the prodigy.

At one point during my photo session I noticed an insect nymph under one of the flower heads. Eventually it moved to a place where I could photograph it better, and that allowed me to give you this picture showing so many things simultaneously: a goldeneye bud still green and mostly compact; a goldeneye bud still green but revealing its florets; an adjacent goldeneye flower head with yellow rays just emerging; a flower head mostly open; a flower head fully open; and of course the colorful nymph.


* The last time I looked, yesterday evening, the plant was still confounding the calendar by producing flowers.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 15, 2012 at 5:39 AM

29 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This photo is so “complete”… a perfect example for a school book perhaps. I wonder what effect the lack of winter has had on insect life… any reports of unusual developments?


    May 15, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    • Yes, I was fortunate to find so many phases close enough together on one plant that I could put them all into a single picture. As for insects, they’re abundant this year. One thing I’ve noticed is a greater presence of caterpillars than I recall seeing in past years, including quite a few dead ones that I assume fell prey to something parasitic. Another thing I’ve observed is a greater presence of small yellow butterflies than I recall being aware of in previous years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2012 at 6:59 AM

      • I would like to add I have noted similar circumstances here in northeast PA. Due to our unusually warm winter we have a plethora of butterflies and at an early date. Strange days

        Bonnie Michelle

        May 15, 2012 at 8:05 AM

      • Thanks for letting us know you’ve observed similar things so far afield (literally) from central Texas. The abundance has created plenty of opportunities for pictures, but I’ve always managed to find something to photograph, even in last year’s terrible drought that coincided with the first half-year of my blog.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 15, 2012 at 9:10 AM

  2. How unusual.. I wonder if she’s coaxing this little happy flower to continuously bloom.. or is it in a state of confusion over the strange weather we’ve all been having? I am not fond of “bugs” but through your lens, I’ve started seeing that these little Nymphs are quite cute.. and that’s something coming from me!

    Just A Smidgen

    May 15, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    • I’ve attributed the unusual blooming to the lack of a real winter and to decent amounts of rain (including last night). As for “bugs,” I’m glad to hear they’re not bugging you as much as they used to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2012 at 7:03 AM

      • A nymph is quite lovely, actually..

        Just A Smidgen

        May 15, 2012 at 7:35 AM

      • And isn’t it strange that when Renaissance scientists wanted a name for this stage of an insect they turned to an ancient Greek word that meant ‘bride’ and ‘beautiful young woman’ and eventually even ‘a mythological being in the form of a young woman’? Those biologists had powerful imaginations.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 15, 2012 at 7:47 AM

  3. Lovely image, especially since you captured the insect as well.


    May 15, 2012 at 6:55 AM

    • Thank you. I’m glad when I can include some sort of animal in a botanical picture. Some are more attractive than others, and some harder to photograph than others; this one was pretty easy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2012 at 7:08 AM

  4. I love this composition’s arch across the dark background. The little nymph is simply punctuation to nature’s out of season statement . ~ Lynda


    May 15, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    • Finding a triumphal arch across the picture appeals to the photographer, and casting the little nymph as “punctuation” appeals to the language lover.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2012 at 7:36 AM

  5. Excellent photo and as you said there is so much going on in this photo. Love it!


    May 15, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    • Thanks, David. This was one of those cases where I used my ring flash because at that time in the morning the goldeneye was shaded by nearby trees. I started with individual flower heads but then noticed this group with so many phases together.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 15, 2012 at 9:13 AM

  6. […] leave a comment » Click for greater clarity. […]

    • I also love the arch of the composition, and how the objects in the foreground seem almost to be floating above the background.

      Marcia Levy

      May 15, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      • On pourrait dire un Arc de Triomphe botanique. Because of the shade I had to use flash, and that had the effect of making the background seem dark compared to the brightly lit flowers, even though my eyes saw all the background details quite well. The result was the floating effect you and Lynda mentioned.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 15, 2012 at 5:45 PM

  7. That’s a great shot! Very interesting that it flowers out of its normal rhythm.


    May 16, 2012 at 12:14 AM

  8. Remarkable photograph, showing all those flowering stages, not to mention the nymph. And to think it all came to pass because you spotted something out of the corner of your eye and went back to look!

    Susan Scheid

    May 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    • I’m beginning to think my eyes have lots of corners to them. In this case, the plant is by the side of a street that I travel every day to get in and out of my immediate neighborhood, so there are many chances to have something catch my eye.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM

  9. I love this shot – the color, the background and the composition. The insect really adds the finishing touch. Thanks for visiting my photography blog and leaving a comment on one of my wildflower posts.


    May 16, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad you liked the elements in this picture, especially the small visitor.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2012 at 4:14 PM

  10. Autumn in spring – a perfect example of the vining of the seasons. And what a beautiful reminder this is that nature blooms and fades in her own time – but kairos, not chronos.

    You mentioned the abundance of caterpillars and such. I’ve been noticing for the past couple of weeks more lizards than I’ve seen here before. I’m sure they’re pleased by the extra insects. We’re hearing cicadas now, too – nearly a month early. Maybe it’s time to get the hurricane preps started!


    May 16, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    • You make an apt contrast between kairos and chonos. I’ve observed that for plants those two kinds of time generally coincide, with certain species usually blooming at certain times of year, but when it comes to a choice between the two, it’s kairos that prevails and that makes sightings like the one in this picture special.

      As for lizards, you’re on my wavelength: stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. Hurricanes, though, we can do without.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2012 at 7:02 AM

  11. Hi Steve .. great shots – fascinating to see the four flower-heads .. and that nymph is just incredible – Mother Nature is just amazing how she colours everything to blend in .. don’t talk about weather! We’re still getting frosts and snow in the Scottish Highlands .. still we were desperate for the rain …. but the climate is distinctly topsy turvy … or the jet stream is that leaves its mark everywhere … Fantastic photos – thanks so much .. cheers Hilary


    May 17, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    • And thanks for your appreciation, Hilary. That nymph is pretty well camouflaged here; I wonder if it ever strays onto flowers of a different color.

      Sorry you’re still having such cold weather. Texas is a very different world from Scotland, which I’d love to see someday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 17, 2012 at 8:40 AM

      • Hi Steve .. I wonder too – how long would you have to wait to see the nymph again .. sorry I’m not offering, even though you have nicer weather and I could visit the States.

        I haven’t ever really seen the Highlands and one day (after my Castle posts in April) should take myself up to Scotland to look around … the castles, history and the scenery …

        Cheers Hilary


        May 17, 2012 at 8:49 AM

      • I’ll keep my eyes open for that kind of nymph.

        Steve Schwartzman

        May 17, 2012 at 8:54 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: