Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Yet another living remnant at a construction site

with 20 comments

Sunflower Flower Head 6567

Click for better clarity.

Long-time readers of this column may remember that in the summer of 2011 I began talking about a property on the east side of the US 183 freeway adjacent to a Costco and a Wendy’s in my neighborhood. The lot was being cleared in preparation for construction, but the razing took place so slowly that I could still visit from time to time and take pictures of plants and insects. Now, two years later, construction is well along on what seems to be a hotel, but at the margins of the property a few native plants have survived, including the remnants of a colony of sunflowers, Helianthus annuus. Once construction is finished I expect landscapers will come and tear out these last few native plants and replace them with Bermuda grass and petunias and other such tame things, but as of June 24th I could still enjoy the glorious wild sunflower you see here. (Although I posted a picture of a wonderful sunflower colony in May, this is the first close-up of a sunflower I’ve shown in 2013. What took me so long?)

If my account of the property along US 183 is new to you, you’re welcome to look back at some of the posts that have dealt with it:

Living amber exacts its deadly toll

New cedar elm leaf

Greenbrier in autumn

Peppervine flowers and buds

The lot along US 183

Spring arising

Family resemblance

They’re back

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 14, 2013 at 6:22 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Gorgeous. 🙂


    July 14, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    • It is: one of the great things in nature is a sunflower standing against a clear blue sky.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 14, 2013 at 7:18 AM

      • I love especially that in your photos. As soon as I see the photo, I know it’s from you!


        July 14, 2013 at 7:19 AM

        • Thanks. I’ll confess to having heard that from a few other people, too. In those cases they saw a photograph in a magazine, thought that it looked like it was mine, and then confirmed it. Although I find myself repeatedly approaching subjects in certain ways, the increasingly difficult challenge is to find new ways to portray them.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 14, 2013 at 7:26 AM

  2. We are only the only species to make such a mark upon nature. Our intrusion is short sighted and unforgivable.


    July 14, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    • I recognize that people have to live somewhere and have to have buildings and roads, but I still wish that in the midst of all those structures more land were left in a natural state. The two can coexist.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 14, 2013 at 7:50 AM

  3. Very nice photo, Steve.


    July 14, 2013 at 7:45 AM

  4. I was trying to answer my own question about this photo when I bumped into this group of sunflowers and just laughed. Doesn’t that green bud look absolutely grumpy?

    My question was about the yellow rays. I don’t remember seeing a photo where they’re so significantly folded in on themselves. Is it possible this is a younger flower that hasn’t completely opened, or might drought be taking a toll?


    July 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    • That picture you linked to is a golden oldie: I was only a week into this blog then. Like you, I noticed the way so many of the rays in the current picture folded in on themselves, but I’m afraid I don’t know enough to understand what caused the folding. Both of your suggestions are plausible.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM

  5. Wonderful photo Steve. The sunflowers around here are a month behind yours. They are only a foot or two tall. I checked my archives and it wasn’t until mid August before I was able to get a shot of them. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to!


    July 14, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    • What a difference the latitude makes. Down here sunflowers usually reach their peak in late May or June (as in the photo I linked to in the text of today’s post). You’re so much farther north that your sunflower peak comes a couple of months after ours. We still have plenty of individual sunflower plants and small groups here, but the great colonies have faded. In any case, I’m glad this post gives you something to look forward to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 14, 2013 at 4:15 PM

  6. I had the same frustration when the county destroyed all the woods behind my neighbors across the street to put in a short extension road that honestly, was not needed. All those lovely trees just gone. And they keep building more and more by us. I agree with you that we need some of it, but there needs to be more common sense in keeping green space and places for nature to be wild and not so tame. The pair of hawks we see over our subdivision are running out of places to live. One more stand of trees goes and they will too.



    July 14, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    • What you describe is one more episode in a continuing story, unfortunately. I sometimes wonder what the land where my house is used to look like, and I wouldn’t even have to go back more than 30 years. I have a general idea, but I’d like to be able to get in my time machine and see this plot of land before it was developed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2013 at 6:26 AM

  7. Perfect angle, and love the contrast of the yellow and blue! Beautiful!


    July 15, 2013 at 9:21 AM

  8. A perfect portrait of such a beautiful flower. Amazing how nature still continues to showcase her beauty even in the midst of our destructive development of the natural environment.

    Mary Mageau

    July 16, 2013 at 4:58 AM

  9. […] As I predicted only a couple of months ago, the last remaining wild sunflowers at the construction site of a hotel in my neighborhood were […]

  10. […] post makes up for my negligence. What I unfortunately can’t make up for is the loss of the property where I photographed this sunflower and many other native plants for a couple of years before a Wendy’s and a Holiday Inn Express finally occupied that […]

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