Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Bastrop resurgent

with 33 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Long-time visitors to this blog may remember the drought that I mentioned in many of last year’s posts, as well as the way the drought made possible the devastating wildfires that struck central Texas in September of 2011. The worst of those destroyed some 1600 houses in the vicinity of Bastrop (a town about 25 miles east of Austin) and burned most of the state park there. In particular, the fires killed the majority of the park’s famous “lost pines,” so called for being disjoint from the large pine forests of east Texas.

On April 6 of this year, after several months of seeing the way the wildflowers in Austin were rebounding from the drought, I finally made my first visit to Bastrop since before the summer fires. I photographed plenty of wildflowers along the way, and they made me hopeful that the park was responding in kind. When I got to Bastrop State Park I learned that only a small portion was open to the public, though much more was scheduled to reopen a few days later. In the part that I did have access to that day I found no shortage of native wildflowers, and the ones that impressed me the most were the white prickly poppies, Argemone albiflora, whose white petals contrasted with the darkened bark of the dead pine trees among which the flowers had sprung up. In addition to the prominent poppy in the foreground, you can glimpse spots of white that correspond to others farther away.

A different picture from the series of white prickly poppy photographs I took at Bastrop State Park that day appeared in the June 2012 issue of Texas Highways magazine. If you’re interested, you can read the photo tip that I wrote to accompany the image on the magazine’s website.


Posted on this date last year: a lady beetle on the tip of a sunflower bract.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 12, 2012 at 5:24 AM

33 Responses

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  1. Very interesting post, and I love the perspective and composition of this shot!! 🙂


    June 12, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    • I was happy to find this area in the early stages of recovery mode, though in my lifetime the pine forest will never go back to looking the way it did before the fire.

      As for composition, in this picture I came close to following (not intentionally) the so-called rule of thirds, with the center of the flower approximately a third of the way over from the left and a third of the way up from the bottom.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2012 at 6:38 AM

  2. I like this picture, which is also showing the surroundings. The fires destroyd a lot, but I guess it also gives new nourishment to some plants.


    June 12, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    • Yes, with the surroundings this is more of a traditional landscape than a portrait. The remains of the burning do nourish some plants, and certain kinds of seeds are stimulated by fire. I’m glad you like the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2012 at 9:22 AM

  3. Great shot Steve…nature rebounding after the fire. I also like the tip you gave in the magazine!


    June 12, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    • I was certainly relieved to see the rebounding. I’m glad you liked the photo tips; I hope they’ll be of use to people.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM

  4. new life amongst the fire of past, beautiful.


    June 12, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    • And so the cycle goes, though many of us in central Texas won’t be around long enough to see a mature pine forest again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 12, 2012 at 6:09 PM

  5. Magnifique photo. La vie reprend son cours. Tout un symbole


    June 13, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    • Merci, Val. C’est vrai que la vie reprend son cours. J’aime le symbolisme littéraire et visuel.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 13, 2012 at 11:36 AM

  6. Wildflowers really do help the land heal! Here, fireweed is the first to start the recovery.


    June 13, 2012 at 11:27 PM

  7. I’ve been forced to divide my “favorite photo” category into “critters” and “flowers”. The caterpillar still holds pride of place when it comes to critters, but this is marvelous. My favorite flower, in a quite remarkable setting – a reminder of last year’s destruction and nature’s insistence on renewal.


    June 14, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    • I found and photographed other native wildflowers in the vicinity of this prickly poppy—old plainsman, baby blue-eyes, spiderwort, Venus’s looking-glass, yellow wood-sorrel—but the pristine white of this flower best symbolized the resurgence of the forest.

      As for your two categories, I wonder if there’ll be others, like landscapes or trees or seeds that will let you further subdivide nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 14, 2012 at 9:46 AM

  8. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while. As usual, I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as clean as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

    Russel Ray Photos

    June 21, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    • You’re welcome. Your comment reminded me of this passage from Walden: “Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods by Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house, and began to cut down some tall, arrowy white pines, still in their youth, for timber. It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your enterprise. The owner of the axe, as he released his hold on it, said that it was the apple of his eye; but I returned it sharper than I received it.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 21, 2012 at 6:10 AM

  9. Gorgeous and hopeful!


    June 23, 2012 at 9:32 AM

  10. I really like how “in your face” the flower is! Very nice shot!

    Michael Glover

    June 23, 2012 at 12:26 PM

  11. […] in April of 2012, just half a year after the Bastrop County Complex Fire, I found wildflowers coming up again in their usual way. On March 4th of this year I returned for the first time since then, as you saw […]

  12. […] plenty of new growth on a small scale—let the greenery beyond the cone be an emblem of that—as I had before, and as you’ll see again over the next few […]

  13. […] in these plants’ leaves. And if you haven’t gotten link-happy by now, you can see one of these pristine white flowers serving as an emblem of resurgence after the devastating Bastrop wildfires of […]

  14. What a terrible weekend for Bastrop and Wimberly, and for Bastrop State Park. James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” certainly seems appropriate. I remembered your post-fire series, and came over to have a look. It was nice to be reminded of this poppy, and of the other growth you found there. It might be interesting to do a post-flood series on the park, too, and somehow combine the “fire and rain” photos.


    May 26, 2015 at 3:00 PM

    • That’s a good idea, and I’ve been meaning for some time to get over to Bastrop State Park to see how the spring has been going there. Now if I could just get a day with no threat of rain…

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2015 at 3:59 PM

  15. […] the first spring after the devastating fire I posted some early evidence of recovery in the form of a prominent white prickly poppy flower whose pristine brightness contrasted with the burned pines beyond it. One month ago today I went […]

  16. That was a great photo tip. It’s rare I don’t come away learning something from your blog, Steve. Even after several years, I find my brain continues to be a blank slate when it comes to photography.


    July 6, 2015 at 12:56 PM

  17. It’s always good to see how resilient nature is.


    June 17, 2019 at 11:24 AM

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