Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

May Day

with 11 comments

Greenthread and Firewheel Colonies 1248

Click for greater clarity and size.

Today is May Day, two words, so I’m not in trouble. Anything but, florally speaking: the wildflowers seem to be approaching their peak in central Texas after a late start due to several spells of unseasonably cool weather this spring. Of course individual flowers have been out for months, as you’ve seen in many posts, but now it’s no longer rare to drive around Austin and see “vacant” lots with dense colonies of wildflowers across portions of them.

In today’s picture the yellow flowers are greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium, which has been having an excellent spring. You may recognize the red-centered flowers as Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets. The spots of violet color are from prairie verbenas, Glandularia bipinnatifida.

I found this scene on April 28 along Grand Avenue Parkway just south of Picadilly Drive on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville, a town adjacent to the northeastern part of Austin. When I moved to Austin in 1976, Pflugerville had a population under one thousand; it has now grown to around 50,000. Good for Pflugerville, bad for the prairie, large parts of which have already become subdivisions. The property shown here, located next to a school on a main street, probably won’t hold out many more years.


Addition: Lynda of Life on the Farmlet wrote: “If you are on WordPress and write a post that includes the words may pole dance you will be inundated by many hits.” Let’s see what happens to my hits now that I’ve added those words.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2013 at 6:18 AM

11 Responses

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  1. Goodness me – you’ve gone all nautical on us. 😉

    I loved May Day as a child. It was a huge holiday for us. We’d make May baskets and fill them with flowers, then take them to the hospital, retirement homes and so on. Teachers and parents would get a pile of them. I really can’t remember what was blooming in Iowa then, but I know that spirea and wood violets often were included.

    If the spirea was plentiful, we’d weave garlands to wear. I’m not sure anyone does that any more. With the profusion of May Day flowers in Texas, it’s a lost opportunity!


    May 1, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    • Yes, a sea of wildflowers, seemingly in waves, but no shipwreck, doing swell. I’m surprised to hear you did so much on May Day when you were growing up in Iowa. Where I lived, in New York, I never heard of anyone doing anything folksy on that day, but I remember seeing on television each year how the Soviets would celebrate International Workers’ Day. Some workers’ paradise that was. Do you remember the Soviet-era joke? A Russian would say: “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.” But unlike the empty shelves in Soviet stores, the prairies of Texas really are stocked with an abundance of wildflowers by May 1, and it’s no work at all to get good pictures of them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2013 at 7:05 AM

  2. I do remember that joke. Yes, I do. As for our May Day celebrations, it was the Scandinavian influence. Many towns also had a Maypole . In some places it’s a mid-summer thing, but for us it was always associated with May Day.


    May 1, 2013 at 7:13 AM

    • Now that you mention it, I remember Maypoles, but not from ever having seen one in person. I recall that there was one in the movie Camelot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2013 at 7:42 AM

  3. […] Special thanks to Steve Schwartzman of Portraits of Wildflowers as the inspiration for my post today, and also to EarthSky for the information on May Day […]

    Life on the Farmlet

    May 1, 2013 at 10:51 AM

  4. Really pretty. Distressing to know there is still prairie around and no move has been made to save any of it. Wonder if Nature Conservancy or other groups know of its existence. Do you know if it is totally undisturbed prairie? If so then some kind of effort should be made to save this piece of land.


    May 1, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    • Some of us have tried locally, but without much success. Almost all of these prairie remnants have been farmed and ranched for generations, but occasionally one turns up that has been touched only lightly. Conservation groups have managed to preserve a few of them. A good place for more information is the Native Prairies Association of Texas:


      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2013 at 4:00 PM

  5. I just came for the may pole dance… very nice picture.


    May 3, 2013 at 10:41 AM

  6. […] April 28th, although I’d already photographed for hours first in far north Austin and then on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville, I made a last stop—and what turned out to be a long one—on the west side of Interstate 35 […]

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