Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mealy blue sage and a different floral companion

with 14 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Let’s get even closer to some mealy blue sage, Salvia farinacea, so you can see the flowers’ structure. I recorded this view a day later than and a few miles north of the cloud-compassed one you saw yesterday. Note the buds at the top of the stalk that are just about to open. I won’t point out yet again that various flowers with blue in their name aren’t blue.*

In contrast to what you saw in different shades of red in this morning’s photograph, the wildflowers behind the sage shown here are Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets, which still had a widespread presence around Austin on June 1 when I made this picture. Some of them continue flowering even now, though many have shed their flowers and turned to globes.

For those of you who are interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 2, 5 and 18 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.


* This is an old rhetorical device: you say that you won’t say a certain thing, and in saying that you won’t say it you do say it. Language can be as much fun to play with as flowers, and words are always in season.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 10, 2012 at 12:42 PM

14 Responses

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  1. Beautiful:)


    June 10, 2012 at 12:53 PM

  2. The “farina” in Salvia farinacea was the clue! That’s where the “mealy” comes from in the common name. I couldn’t find any appearance of mealiness in the flowers, but the Missouri Botanical Garden site tells me it’s characteristic of the upper stem and calyx. Now I’ll wait and see if I remember this flower when winter comes around and I go back to my cream of wheat for breakfast.


    June 10, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    • Like you (and probably many others who grew up in the same era, I make the connection to Cream of Wheat brand of farina. As for the mealy in this species of sage, you anticipate me: I have a post coming tomorrow that provides a better view of that texture on the plant’s upper stem.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 10, 2012 at 4:19 PM

  3. Great post!

    I’ve really enjoyed keeping up with your blog over the last 6 months or so! So much so that I mentioned your blog in my recent post for The Versatile Blogger Award! Cheers!



    June 10, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    • Thanks, Tara. I’m pleased that you’ve found the posts of the last half year or so to your liking. I’m also pleased to hear that the people visiting your blog appreciate the way you’ve been highlighting the connection between nature and art. I made a decision last year to let my blog and the comments on it be reward enough for me, so I don’t participate in the circle of awards, but I certainly thank you for thinking of me. It looks like you’ve moved from Austin back to Colorado now: happy return.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 10, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      • Thanks, Steve! I was of the same mindset, but decided it was time to recognize a few of the other wonderful blogs out there! Looking forward to future posts on your blog!


        June 10, 2012 at 4:33 PM

  4. That’s sure pretty! I’ve seen that color on a few individual blossoms of the larkspur here.


    June 10, 2012 at 11:43 PM

  5. This is a great shot and thankyou for the name also.
    I have been photographing this flower for a couple of weeks and didn’t know which variety of salvia it was.


    June 11, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    • From Texas to Australia: that’s quite a leap. There’s at least one similar species from Mexico that has been cultivated as well, so it’s possible the one you’ve been photographing isn’t Salvia farinacea. But might be. I remember my surprise when I came across some Texas lantana growing wild in New South Wales.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2012 at 7:07 AM

  6. […] first one way and then the other. On June 1, when I took the picture of mealy blue sage flowers that you saw last time, I noticed one such sinuous sage stalk and decided to photograph it. That it was drying out I could […]

  7. This is an excellent example of the use of secondary colors, Steve. I think what I like most about it is how you used them in this composition. This photo, actually, has a lot of energy. Usually, these three colors, used together, promote the restful. Very cool.


    June 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    • Thanks for the painterly analysis, Leslie. Now you’ve got me wondering if I’ll ever make a photograph that has the same colors but conveys a feeling of restfulness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2012 at 3:50 PM

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