Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


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Clematis drummondii Strands with Cumulus Cloud 1414

In the world of finance a CD is a certificate of deposit. For just about everyone a CD is a computer disc of music or images or data. In the physical sciences Cd represents the chemical element cadmium. For me, though, at least when it comes to native plants in Texas, Cd will always mean Clematis drummondii, a local vine that produces swirls of lustrous strands. I photographed this Cdd (Clematis drummondii display) atop a fence (which I chose not to include in my photographs) at Brushy Creek Lake Park in the town of Cedar Park on August 5th. The branches of the vine were questing upward for something to bind themselves to, but in this case they were bound to fail.

If you’d like a much closer look at the chaotic complexity of these bundles of fibers, you can check out a post from three years ago.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 1, 2014 at 6:00 AM

48 Responses

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  1. Very lustrous. My imagination sees a convertible (not a fence) with young ladies standing up and letting the breeze blow through their hair. Okay, my imagination is on overdrive!


    September 1, 2014 at 6:41 AM

    • If I ever found a young lady with hair like that I’d be sure to ask her to model for me. Or maybe I could convince Heidi Klum to get her hair done that way and model using the name Heidi Clematis. I guess my imagination’s cruising along on overdrive too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 6:55 AM

  2. If the title had been “CD,” I might have thought you were putting out a CD of your greatest hits. But “Cd”? There was only one thing that could be, and you’ve provided an especially fine portrait this time.

    I like the sense of spaciousness, and the obvious presence of the wind. It’s wonderful, the way it was shaping the clouds to echo the movement of the plants. In fact, a paraphrase of my favorite song from last year’s Kansas trip wouldn’t be a bad title: “Clean Curve of Clematis Against Cloud.”


    September 1, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    • It was high time for a reprise of this favorite plant, so a picture of it rising high seems appropriate now. Along the lines of your alliteration, over the years I’ve titled some pictures of this vine “Clematis and Cloud(s).” I also like “Clematis and Cumulus,” with its dactylic rhythm, or the more-alliterative “Clematis Clusters with Cumulus Clouds.” Now that you’ve gotten me started down that path, it’s hard to stop, but I will.

      I see from my computer files that I spent eight minutes photographing the Clematis vines on the fence. During that time the cumulus clouds kept moving, of course, and I kept trying different positions and compositions, some horizontal and others vertical, to keep my subjects lined up with those clouds in appealing ways.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 7:26 AM

  3. Its amazing….I loved this pic very much…beautiful, awesome…etc etc… 🙂


    September 1, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    • Thanks. I’m glad to see your enthusiasm for this wonderful Texas vine matches mine. As summer approaches each year I look forward to the reappearance of these swirls.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 7:37 AM

      • Yes,I always love the nature pics you post and it’s really lovely to see beauty found on rocks ,even simple vine ,and it feels nice to be able to see it from your lens which I am unable to find here … 🙂


        September 1, 2014 at 7:41 AM

  4. A marvelous photo, Steve – not only for the detail but the composition. “Who can see the wind” indeed!


    September 1, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    • Thanks, Lynn. Were you thinking of the poem by Christina Rossetti?

      Who has seen the wind?
      Neither I nor you:
      But when the leaves hang trembling
      The wind is passing thro’.

      Who has seen the wind?
      Neither you nor I:
      But when the trees bow down their heads
      The wind is passing by.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 7:44 AM

      • Ah, yes, Steve – a favorite of mine, even though I slightly misquoted it in my giddy response to your extraordinary picture!


        September 1, 2014 at 8:00 AM

        • That’s what Clematis drummondii can do to you! And that just gave me an idea: I knew that there are various kinds of Clematis in England, and I wondered if Christina Rossetti had ever written about any of them. A search quickly turned up two relevant letters to her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In the first, from 1875 or 1876, she wrote:

          “Have you ever noticed the large modern clematis in blossom ? Mamma and I saw a house full of it at the Botanic Gardens the other day, & I really think it must be a flower adapted to pictorial purposes. The old-fashioned garden clematis —tho’ indeed these new ones also profess to be all hardy, — beautiful as it is, is beautiful in really quite a different style.”

          In the second letter, from 1876 or a little later, she wrote:

          “Since we spoke together of Fiammetta’s bower I have recollected clematis, not a tree certainly but a climber attaining any height you please. The old-fashioned clematis was so far as I know limited in blossom to purple or white; but nowadays you see it with much larger flowers, and these of many tints, deep and pale, of lilac and rose colour; besides of course white. The Xmas Rose in number and arrangement of petals, as well as in their shape and in the central tuft of the blossom, does strongly assimilate with many a modern clematis. The foliage, however, is very different. I just tell you this in case it may suggest anything. I think, but I cannot remember with certainty, that I may have seen the clematis house in the Botanical Gardens in full bloom as early as about Easter.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 1, 2014 at 8:16 AM

  5. Those are nice wispy and shiny threads in the sun. My clematis on the mailbox is doing that, too. But, they are not at all showy like these.

    Jim in IA

    September 1, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    • I’m not very familiar with species of Clematis beyond the three that are native here, but I have the impression (and let’s hope it isn’t just Texas swagger) that Clematis drummondii puts out some of the best displays in its genus. I know those lustrous displays keep intriguing me year after year, and even if there are equally good ones in other parts of the world, I’m happy to have one that grows abundantly right in my Austin neighborhood.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 8:28 AM

  6. I remember how stunned I was the first time I discovered what Clematis blooms become when they are done being flowers, and I have been a devoted fan ever since. Alas, the species that is native here is a hungry ghost, swallowing everything in its path and then not always bothering to bloom. So for my garden I content myself with the cherished cultivars…magenta, purple, white…swoon. And, like you, I wait with anticipation for the wild-haired lasses to arrive with their intimations of convertibles and beckoning roads.


    September 1, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    • I like your description of a hungry ghost, even if you’re not fond of its haunting but not necessarily blooming presence. I also like your talk of wild-haired lasses with their intimations of convertibles and beckoning roads. You’re sure rolling down the wordsmith’s highway on this first morning in September. That’s what a glimpse of Clematis drummondii can do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 10:38 AM

  7. Very dramatic and lovely. It’s hard for me, too, not to be reminded of heads with long, wild, silken hair. Love the idea of a chance meeting with Heidi!


    September 1, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    • Yes, let’s give a cheer for long, wild, and silken hair. I’m afraid I can’t introduce you to Heidi, but some of my best friends in Austin are Clematises, and if you’re ever in town I’ll be glad to introduce you to them. I’m sure they wouldn’t object to having you pose with them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      • Thanks for the kind invitation, Steve–I’ll keep it firmly in mind!


        September 2, 2014 at 10:29 AM

  8. I love all Clematis seed heads! These are stunning against that beautiful blue sky 🙂

    Sarah Longes - Mirador Design

    September 1, 2014 at 1:21 PM

  9. I think I like this better than the one from three years ago – they really do invoke summer with that wild hair (love the comments – they are just hilarious!). I can see why you don’t get your fill of photographing these, especially with the sky providing a challenge on it.

    Were you laying down when you took them? I remember a comment you made several years ago about your camera not having the articulating screen. I’m thinking of upgrading my Canon Rebel to a Canon 6D and that’s one thing I’m not looking forward to.



    September 1, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    • Hi, Nancy. My head has been home to wild hair for a long time, so maybe that’s one reason I take to this plant.

      As often as I get down really low or even lie on the ground, this wasn’t one of those times. That’s because the parts of the Clematis vine shown here rose from the top of a fence. I knelt to aim upward toward the cloud, but I didn’t have to go any lower than that and I could keep my body upright. None of the cameras I’ve ever used have had an articulating screen, so I don’t miss it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      • Duh! You did mention it was a vine up above.

        Thanks for the note on the articulating screen. You are right – I’m sure after a while, I won’t notice.


        September 1, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        • If you do spring for the 6D, let us know how you like it and how quickly you get accustomed to the non-articulating screen.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 1, 2014 at 3:05 PM

          • Will do. First now do I feel like I’m ready to use all its features. The Rebel has a lot on it, which I’ve slowly learned to use. But I’d like something better now.


            September 1, 2014 at 3:13 PM

  10. This is such a beautiful picture! Looks unreal.


    September 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

  11. Lovely photograph and plant. I like that you have a cloud reflecting the outline of the plants as a background.

    Steve Gingold

    September 1, 2014 at 4:39 PM

  12. Absolutely stunning! A beautiful dance of Clematis drummondii!!


    September 1, 2014 at 5:25 PM

  13. Excellent ces chevelus 🙂 J’apprécie.


    September 2, 2014 at 1:08 PM

  14. Wow! This is Wyeth like! Graceful beyond measure.


    September 3, 2014 at 12:30 AM

  15. Une très belle chevelure pour cette clématite Steve et j’ai bien aimé ton humour sur les différentes sortes de Cd…Cette photo est fantastique!:


    September 4, 2014 at 5:52 AM

    • J’aime bien la métaphore d’une chevelure, mais au Texas cette espèce s’appelle “old man’s beard”. Le vieil homme barbu, c’est moi.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 4, 2014 at 7:31 AM

  16. The cloud and blue sky backdrop perfectly frames the Cd. Beautiful shot!

    Susan Scheid

    September 11, 2014 at 9:19 AM

  17. […] August 5th at Brushy Creek Lake Park in the town of Cedar Park (on the same outing that brought you a photograph of Clematis and clouds) I’d come across the white prickly poppy shown here, which had attracted some tiny insects. […]

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