Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

First flowers

with 34 comments

Agarita Flowers and Buds 0726

The last two months here have been colder than average, with repeated overnight freezes putting an end to fall flowering and then delaying any spring reflowering—till now. On February 13th, with a noon temperature near 60°F (16°C), I went walking on some undeveloped land in my neighborhood and finally saw a native plant beginning to blossom. It was an agarita bush, Mahonia trifoliolata, some colorful autumn leaves of which you saw not long ago.

I originally had an older picture scheduled for today, but I bumped it so you could see something current and floral and bright.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 15, 2014 at 6:05 AM

34 Responses

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  1. Good choice. Just what your readers need to see.


    February 15, 2014 at 6:25 AM

  2. Like a burst of sunshine.


    February 15, 2014 at 6:45 AM

  3. A much needed breath of spring for us in the Northeast! Thank you. Becca sent a picture yesterday showing herself in a tank top and running shorts, i think we are cursed here! The Lehigh Valley is on its way to having the winter of 2013/2014 being the snowiest ever!

    Bonnie Michelle

    February 15, 2014 at 7:05 AM

    • The temperature was in the 70s here yesterday, and the high for each day over the next week is also predicted to be in that range. I’m sorry for where you are, which maybe should be renamed the Lelow Valley.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2014 at 7:50 AM

  4. It’s really nice to see these, especially for us here in the North East where we haven’t had a day above freezing in weeks.


    February 15, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    • Your comment echoes the previous one, from Pennsylvania. We’ve also been cold—by Texas standards, which I think you’d be happy to borrow now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2014 at 7:52 AM

  5. Spring is surely on its way!!! I love this plant, the color, the scent of honey it exudes, and all the insects it attracts. If you are lucky you will have its close relative Berberis swaseyi, which blooms about a month later, in your garden also.


    February 15, 2014 at 7:43 AM

    • Yes, as I sit here by my window it looks like we have another beautiful spring day in store. Yesterday and the day before were the first two consecutive days when I’ve taken nature photographs since December 17th and 18th.

      Mahonia (formerly Berberis) swaseyi, or Texas barberry, is a plant I’ve only rarely seen. From what you say, it sounds like you have some in your garden. If so, let’s hope it gives you lots of fruit to make jelly from.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2014 at 8:01 AM

  6. At least here, in Marble Falls, I’ve seen a couple of things in bloom: Redstem Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium) and Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris).

    Enjoy your posts!



    Al Williams

    February 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    • I’ve seen those, too, but unfortunately they’re not native. They (and several others, like henbit) are among the first plants in Texas to appear each year: they must get confused by our warm climate and think it’s May back in the Old Country. That’s why I was happy to find a native species already flowering.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2014 at 10:58 AM

  7. We have floods here and gales


    February 15, 2014 at 2:13 PM

  8. Apart from your blog, I’ve never seen agarita flowering, even though I often see it with ripened fruit. The flowers are beautiful. Thanks so much for rescheduling whatever you had planned. This is a special treat after these last two months.


    February 15, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    • You’re welcome. The first native flowers of the year seemed too important to postpone, especially after so much cold. I went out again today, the third in a row, and there were signs that other things are about to pop.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    • By the way, if you know of any nearby agaritas, now’s the time to start checking them for flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 15, 2014 at 6:42 PM

  9. I’m so glad to have got over here today–so nice to see some color when our world here is so white (22″ worth, they say). This one, particularly, was cheering, as I suspect it was for you, as well.

    Susan Scheid

    February 16, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    • Hi, Susan. These flowers are small, but you’re right that they’re a cheery token of bigger bright things to come. Your snow is picturesque, but the picturesqueness comes at a cold price.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2014 at 8:43 PM

  10. Yes, we up here in the northern states would gladly take your “cold” weather! Lol. We’ve got a high of 25 today but under a winter weather advisory up to 4 inches, at least that’s what they said the last time I checked. Needless to say you won’t see me with any wildflower posts! Spoiled!!!!

    But anywho, I do appreciate a taste of what we have to look forward to sooner than later. The yellow is very beautiful and yet somehow muted. I also like the rounded aspect of the petals, even if they might end up flattening out a bit more once fully open. Thanks for sharing.



    February 17, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    • Then I’m sorry to tell you it’s 73° here now, with some highs for the rest of the week predicted to be close to 80°. That’s above average for this time of year, but by no means unusual. I hope the warmth will signal the native wildflowers to come on out and join some of the alien interlopers that have been springing up. Agarita flowers, by the way, even though small, have a pleasant aroma, especially en masse.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 17, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      • Lol, and I read this while the snow thickens its blanketing arrival. I just heard 4-6 inches predicted now. The cool part is it’s gonna be 38 tomorrow and for next couple days. For that I am happy. I hope the warmth for you brings some great photographic opportunities!



        February 17, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        • Let’s hope, although almost no native wildflowers have come up yet, and the land still has its wan, wintery look.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 17, 2014 at 2:08 PM

          • Patience Daniel-Son! 😉

            Well we had the blizzard (I got some shots) and then we had 40+ degree weather for a couple of days and now…we have downpours and thunder and lightning. I would love to catch the lightning but it’s pretty sporadic. I’m pretty optimistic about what all this precipitation will do for our coming growing season. I hope you get your fair share too!


            February 20, 2014 at 8:12 PM

  11. isn’t it wonderful to see the first open buds of spring? Glad you bumped your original post for this instead! 🙂


    February 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    • And just half an hour ago I saw a good-sized colony of yellow wood-sorrel with its small flowers beginning to open.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 21, 2014 at 12:11 PM

  12. […] five weeks ago I showed you some agarita flowers as a hallmark of spring. Today’s picture from west of Morado Circle on March 6th adds two things you didn’t see […]

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