Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Better than fish in a barrel

with 29 comments

A little over a year ago I mentioned that the expression “like shooting fish in a barrel” has never appealed to me. I expect shooting those fish is supposed to be easy because they’re trapped in the barrel and can’t swim away, but wouldn’t the bullets smash the barrel to pieces and allow water (and fish) to spill out all over the place? Hmm. No, if I want to indicate that something is easy I’ll say it’s like shooting wildflowers in Texas. That’s how I felt on April 7th when I spent hours in the Texas Hill Country reveling in the abundant spring wildflowers I found along mile after mile of highway. Today’s post and the ones for the next week will show you some of that day’s flowery abundance.

Let’s begin with this view from TX 71 west of Austin, which records a colony of pink evening primroses, Oenothera speciosa. There’s that speciosa again, meaning ‘showy, look-worthy’ in Latin.

Pink Evening Primrose Colony 1684

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2015 at 5:07 AM

29 Responses

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  1. This is how I imagined wildflower photography to be in your burg. Compositions everywhere. Occasionally I can find such prolific resplendence but more often it’s just a few plants here or there. This is lovely.

    Steve Gingold

    April 24, 2015 at 5:28 AM

    • Woo hoo: “prolific resplendence” is a fancy way to describe a fancy phenomenon. I’m still hoping you’ll get to play in such floral abundance one of these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2015 at 8:02 AM

  2. What time of day was this? Evening or very early morning? It’s very showy but the show doesn’t go on for all hours, or does it?


    April 24, 2015 at 6:28 AM

    • Whether the showy show persists depends on the species, and for pink evening primroses you’re right in suspecting that the display varies with the time, because these flowers generally close up by afternoon. The view in this photograph was from 10 in the morning, so the colony was still looking good. Other species don’t change much or at all as the day progresses and therefore would look just as good at 5 in the afternoon as at 10 in the morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2015 at 8:11 AM

  3. I’m thinking I should move to Texas for this flower alone~ we have a similar species but it is a boring yellow. In fact, I think we have very few pink flowers. This wonderful image is making me jealous!


    April 24, 2015 at 7:20 AM

    • If this field of widespread pink has made you jealous
      Then to move to Texas you had best be zealous.

      We have yellow members of the evening primrose family too, several species of them, but the public knows the pink ones best. In part that’s because of their color and in part because they’re prone to form large colonies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2015 at 8:16 AM

  4. Wow


    April 24, 2015 at 9:39 AM

  5. What a nice way to begin, Steve, and what a lovely carpet.


    April 24, 2015 at 10:57 AM

  6. Wow, beautiful!

    • Texas definitely has a wow factor in the spring. I hope you’ll be able to see it in person someday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2015 at 2:22 PM

  7. Lovely photo. What a show.

    Raewyn's Photos

    April 24, 2015 at 3:39 PM

  8. What a lovely photo. The colonies have been especially abundant here, no doubt helped along by the rain. I’ve noticed that the color range seems more varied, too. There are more nearly-white flowers, and some very deep pink.

    I needed a photo of evening primrose for a future post. When I decided to photograph them in an empty lot across the street, it led to an amusing exchange. There are signs, wires, poles, and buildings galore surrounding the lot, so the only way to get a nice capture of a group of flowers on a “hill” about 8″ high was to hit the ground. I ended up getting a few usable images, like this one, but while I was doing so I heard someone calling, “Ma’am? Excuse me? Ma’am?” I turned around and looked, and a woman in a car on the street, about twelve feet away said, “Oh, thank goodness. I thought you had fallen. I was going to get out and come check on you.” It reminded me of your experience. I laughed about it for days, but it was nice of her to check.


    April 26, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    • I think you’re right about the rain making for lush colonies of pink evening primroses (and other wildflowers) this spring. In fact it’s raining here again as I’m typing this, and I hope that will keep the flowers coming in abundance well into the season (previous rains have already brought out the chiggers, alas). Some Mexican hats are already flowering, and I’ve seen other large groups of them getting ready to do so.

      Welcome to the hit-the-ground club, and even to the more rarified sub-club of prone photographers who’ve had people stop to check on them. I’m glad you got a laugh out of it, and let’s hope you’ll be able to include the anecdote in the post you’re preparing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2015 at 9:53 AM

  9. Oh what a glorious sight Steve 🙂

    • It is, Sarah, and yet it’s a fairly common one around here in April. I hope people still stop to appreciate it in spite of its frequent occurrence. The Texas version of “Stop and smell the roses” could be “Stop and look at the pink evening primroses.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pink one here! Yes, it’s easy for us to become complacent about the things that are very common around us, but for others around the world it’s a fresh delight 🙂

        • The other Oenothera species here produce bright yellow flowers, so this one with its pink flowers is the exception, and a prominent and well-known one at that. I agree with you that it’s easy to get complacent, or not even to notice many of the wonders around us in the first place.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 1, 2015 at 7:36 AM

  10. […] a wildflower in the genus Oenothera, though I’m not sure of the species. (You may recall that the pink evening primroses you recently saw are Oenothera speciosa.) The flower buds in this genus are long and tapering, and their outer […]

  11. […] In the month since I took this picture, pink evening primrose flowers have been a common sight in central Texas. If you’d like a reminder of the way a colony of these flowers can turn a roadside pink, you’re welcome to revisit a picture from last spring. […]

  12. […] What I’d stopped to photograph on April 30 along the Copperfield Nature Trail when Eve walked ahead and found the prickly pear flower in the dewberry patch was a white variant of a pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa. Near the flower’s upper margins you can make out a faint tinge of the usual color. […]

  13. […] The negative sense of specious has driven out the ‘showy’ one in modern English, but apparently not in Spanish, where the DRAE gives the positive definition first. And botanists have preserved the positive sense in species names like Ungnadia speciosa and Oenothera speciosa. […]

  14. […] evening primroses reach their peak here in the spring, when large colonies of Oenothera speciosa sometimes form. Even so, individual plants are often found flowering through the summer and fall, […]

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