Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Maidenhair ferns and mosses on a limestone overhang along Bull Creek on July 15

with 27 comments

Maidenhair Ferns on Limestone Overhang 0661

Click for greater clarity and better color.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 31, 2013 at 6:12 AM

27 Responses

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  1. Now this is something completely different, Steve. I like it a lot. A little “Hanging Gardens of Texas Hill Country” flavor.

    Steve Gingold

    August 31, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    • And I like your title “Hanging Gardens of Texas Hill Country.” We’d gotten a little rain at the time and it had revivified the ferns. Their rich green is quite a contrast to the dried-out mountain pink in the previous picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2013 at 8:06 AM

      • Every once in a while my wit kicks in. Don’t expect it again too soon. 🙂

        Steve Gingold

        August 31, 2013 at 8:15 AM

        • But your first comment stirred up Great Expectations in me, so I hope you won’t leave us hanging.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2013 at 8:23 AM

  2. It’s been quite hot and uncomfortable out the past two weeks here in IA. Your photo puts some refreshing green and cool into the day. We are going on a morning hike outing next Tuesday when the temps cool down. It will be in a state park with the most caves in IA. Several miles of trails and accessible caves. That will be a welcome change.

    Jim in IA

    August 31, 2013 at 7:26 AM

  3. I like this one very much, however, I am having trouble finding perspective, especially with no water. Perhaps, that is the point? no water?

    On the other perspective, perhaps I am looking at the wall, dead on, in front of me?
    I haven’t had my morning tea, this could be what is making me focus upon this, or contributing to the duh, there it is wake up moment. 🙂


    August 31, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    • Good morning to you, Elisa. Tealess or not, you got it right when you wondered whether “perhaps I am looking at the wall, dead on, in front of me.” The ferns across the bottom of the photograph were close to the ground. As the rock wall rises, it curves forward. I don’t know what the bluish-gray formations are, but I like the way their verticality contrasts with the horizontality of the ferns. The duller green across the top of the photograph is from mosses.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2013 at 8:20 AM

      • Thanks! I like it. I liked the cave-cavern feel to it. I was afraid to express that. I want to touch and to rub away as the moss looking stripes next to the blue. I wonder at overgrowth, between growth, stability of structure, and the bumpy ‘ceiling’. I’ve had 2 cups of tea, the gleeful imagination is chortling! One more tea to go and I’m ready for the world!


        August 31, 2013 at 8:37 AM

        • There’s a cavernous feeling all right, and yet behind me was open air, Bull Creek, and beyond the creek a greenbelt. As for the tea, it’s now a case, not of tea for two, but of two cups of tea (and counting) for one active imagination.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2013 at 8:46 AM

  4. I love the artistic ambiguity in this image. Very beautiful, Steve!

    Cindy Kilpatrick

    August 31, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    • Thanks, Cindy. I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t put any of my usual explanatory text (beyond the necessary information in the title). I’m glad you found the photograph’s ambiguity effective and artistic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2013 at 8:30 AM

  5. Your wordless post brought to mind several thoughts this morning, Steve.

    1) The Fern Grotto on Kauai. 2) I never could grow this fern until I planted one outside in a semi-shaded spot and then forgot all about it. What a surprise when I stumbled upon it months later and found it flourishing without my help! And 3) Actually regards your comment about mud daubers to Jim. I very recently read that they are great recyclers of abandoned nursery tubes, and will reuse them! How thrifty, opportunistic, or lazy, depending on who’s looking! 😉


    August 31, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    • 1) That’s another new one for me, the Fern Grotto on Kauai. Live and learn.

      2) I think you’ve described a case of benign neglect.

      3) Regarding the mud tubes that I showed last August, I haven’t yet found them reoccupied, but I only go to that place once or twice a year, so it’s possible I’ve missed any new inhabitants. If I see any signs of life on a future visit, I’ll let you know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      • You may very well have missed the newest inhabitants. Look below the tubes for little disks of mud about the size of those little holes in the sides. Brush them away. On your subsequent visits look for new little disks of mud. 🙂


        August 31, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        • I’ll see if I can do that, but the place where I photographed the mud tubes isn’t the easiest to reach, so I’ve been visiting there only once or twice a year.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2013 at 12:21 PM

  6. This shot really speaks to me. I’m astonished to see something so…well, *Washingtonian* in character…appearing in TX. Extraordinarily lush, wet beauty. Maybe it’s the seeming familiarity of the subject that made me, the dyslexic and usually the most spatially discombobulated one in the bunch, see it immediately as recognizable without further context. Ha! Never know when one’s quirks might actually pay. Meanwhile, a beautifully composed photo, rich color and texture, and an unexpected subject add up to a real hit on my list! Thanks for this.


    August 31, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    • The photograph is relieved to hear that you speak its language. (I’ve translated into English so that other readers will understand.) Thanks for your compliment on the picture’s color and composition. As for discombobulation, I sometimes feel it when I’m making my way over uneven or sloping ground with my heavy camera bag pulling me off my natural balance.

      People from outside of central Texas—and many who live here as well—are often surprised to learn that the region has many little out-of-the-way places that are lusher than the predominant semi-arid landscape. Generally those different places are along creeks, and fortunately that makes many of them unsuitable to development. What is now Great Hills Park, which I’ve often mentioned and shown pictures from (including those mud dauber tubes referred to above), was land that the developer of the neighborhood couldn’t build on, and that Marie Laing and other early residents convinced him to turn over to the city for a park.

      (By the way, speaking of things Washingtonian, I was born in Tacoma, although that’s tangential to your comment. I lived there only as an infant and can’t remember that first half-year of my life.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      • I’d completely forgotten your mention of being a Tacoma native. Richard and I filled in the gap for you, since when we taught at PLU (plus when I was an undergrad there) we totted up a collective 40 years or so of living in the Second City, the City of Destiny, and whatever else they’ve dreamed up as a slogan over the decades. While there are innumerable other things that genuinely recommend other parts of the region more overtly than Tacoma, it now has a fabulous glass museum, great history and art museums, some stellar concert and performing arts venues, a wonderful Old Town and gorgeous Ruston Way waterfront and Point Defiance parks, lots of good food and much more, after all those years of living in Seattle’s shadow.


        August 31, 2013 at 10:35 PM

        • I visited Tacoma only once as an adult, in 1978, so all the recent things you mention are an enticement for a return trip. In contrast to you two, I’m now a long-term resident in Texas, and had already been here two years when I took that jaunt over to Tacoma. Our roles are somewhat reversed.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2013 at 10:45 PM

  7. I’m surprised there is enough moisture for ferns! These are really lovely. I like the contrast with the bands of rock or whatever that is on the face of the cliff. Really nice image!

    George Weaver

    September 1, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    • Actually ferns are pretty common in central Texas in sheltered places like this one near creeks. The heat of the summer and the frequent arrival of rainless periods can cause them to turn brown, but they always seem to come to back. There are quite a few other species of ferns, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2013 at 6:48 AM

  8. One of the answers to “why so lush and green?” often is “springs”. At the old place south of Kerrville, there were maidenhair ferns year-round, because of the springs that bubbled up through the limestone. Even during the drought of 2011 they flowed, albeit at a radically reduced rate. But it was enough to keep the ferns fresh and lovely. Rain helps replenish the springs’ source, of course, but even without it beautiful ferns like this can be found.

    We dammed the tiny creek that flowed from the three springs on the property, and created a pool about half the size of my desk. It was enough to keep a lot of animals and birds happy, and it was a lovely retreat for humans on hot afternoons.


    September 1, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    • Ferns spring eternal where springs spring forth, and seeps also let life seep in.

      Texas has essentially no natural lakes, so ranchers and farmers here regularly created stock ponds. What you did with the three springs on the property south of Kerrville was a reduced version of the same thing. In the suburbs of New York where I grew up it was common for people to put birdbaths in their yards.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2013 at 9:24 AM

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