Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 22 comments

Firewheel Growing in Crack in Pavement 9003

Rochester: “You have been resident in my house three months?”

Jane: “Yes, sir.”

Rochester: “And you came from–?”

Jane: “From Lowood school, in -shire.”

Rochester: “Ah! a charitable concern. How long were you there?”

Jane: “Eight years.”

Rochester: “Eight years! you must be tenacious of life.”

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë.


Driving home on February 23rd, I thought I caught a glimpse of a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, growing out of the pavement at the intersection of Loop 360 and Bluffstone Dr. The next morning I went back and, sure enough, in the paved triangle between the highway and the right turn lane that curves onto Bluffstone Dr. was a single firewheel that had somehow gotten a roothold* in a crack between the little island’s sections of concrete. The plant was tenacious of life in having gotten established in such an inhospitable place, and I can report that on my most recent drive-by, almost three weeks after I noticed it, its flower head was still there.

The background gray in the lower part of the photograph corresponds to the pavement, which fortunately remained out of focus. The black that forms the background in the upper part of the picture is from shaded trees farther away.


* If you want to be anthropomorphic you can change the r back to an f.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 19, 2013 at 6:20 AM

22 Responses

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  1. A beautiful flower, a quotation from one of my favorite books, and a little word play. What could be better?

    It is amazing to see what can pop up in the nooks and crannies around us. I’ve often thought of doing a post on the “accidental gardens” I see in places like marina docks and the rock walls used for landscaping. As Faulkner might have it, they not only endure, they prevail.


    March 19, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    • The plants that manage to get started in the kinds of out-of-the-way places you mentioned are often what people would call weeds, but I don’t think too many would call this firewheel a weed.

      I’m glad to see you got a quotation in, too. After a lot of enduring, Jane Eyre, like this firewheel, did prevail.

      Anyone who has to endure English spelling must despair at words like root and foot, which look like they should rhyme but don’t (although some people pronounce root with the vowel sound of foot).

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2013 at 7:19 AM

  2. Oh, I have one of my framed images of this flower, called Crucible.


    March 19, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    • Small miracles are everywhere if you only pay attention.


      March 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      • That’s for sure. When I’m out photographing I usually walk slowly and look all around, but I still always wonder how many things I’ve missed.

        Steve Schwartzman

        March 19, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    • Can you explain the connection to a crucible?

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 19, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      • Crucible

        There is the image, the cauldron, bowl shape, the vessel for the fire. The high temps inside of one that burn up and then recreate, like the phoenix, the human spirit. The joy of bravely holding up and showing valiant aura and energetic colors during this process is a sort of defiance toward that which would cause or wish the burning up, even if this is only caused by the self. The central bits have me think of melted shards of glass, the burning up of the vessel itself. Passion and heat, swirling in vivid hues, showing even more brightly fire reflected by the sun.


        March 19, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        • That’s quite an imaginative interpretation. I’d never thought of one of these flower heads as a cauldron, complete with melted shards of colorful glass.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM

          • Thanks! (I think.) hehe
            I have that flash the moment the energy draws me to see it and then I snap. It’s rather hard to get all of the words and the thinking in pictures that comes in the split second before I notice the energy and take the picture.


            March 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM

  3. I always stop in admiration when I see flowers that appear in inhospitable places. Lovely find.


    March 19, 2013 at 4:03 PM

  4. It’s a beautiful flower but what a place for it to grow!


    March 19, 2013 at 10:29 PM

  5. What a great collection you have here!
    Thanks for your visit and comment on my blog. Hope to “see” you there soon with more “geometrical” comments 😉

    Photo Attraction

    March 27, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    • Nature, which as you see is my subject in this blog, reveals a lot of geometry, too, both Euclidian and fractal. Até a logo.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 27, 2013 at 8:31 AM

  6. […] of the most common wildflowers in central Texas. You’ve seen even more photographs lately of firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, also known as Indian blankets, which were and still are abundant this […]

  7. […] family that looks something like the coreopsis I featured recently, but even more like the Indian blanket you’ve seen so much of here this spring. You’re looking at Helenium quadridentatum, […]

  8. Tenacious it is. In many ways, Charlotte Bronte was too.


    June 21, 2015 at 10:28 PM

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