Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Now we’re back in 2015

with 22 comments

Horsemint Colony with Firewheels 5402

It was June 4, less than a week ago, when I photographed this colony of horsemints (Monarda citriodora) with some firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) mixed in along Bull Creek Rd. across from Jackson Ave.

Here’s an amusing but sad commentary on this dense colony of wildflowers, which is on a property that belongs to TxDoT, the Texas Department of Transportation. That’s the same department that issues contracts for mowing state highways, and you’ve heard me complain about how often mowers cut down plants that haven’t yet flowered or produced seeds. When I photographed the colony in today’s picture (which is larger than what you see here) I couldn’t help noticing it was surrounded on the ground by those bright yellow caution tapes that you see around the sites of accidents or crimes. Apparently someone was afraid—understandably—that without the conspicuous caution tape, mowers might go right ahead and mow down the wildflowers.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 10, 2015 at 5:14 AM

22 Responses

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  1. Does this help with horse breath?

    As I read this, I thought you were going to report that it had been mowed. I’m glad that the caution tape worked. There is a large hayfield not far from here where bobolinks nest every year. The farmer who owned it always waited until the young had fledged before mowing. He has since sold the property to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and it is now protected, although he maintains the rights to the hay after fledging.

    Steve Gingold

    June 10, 2015 at 5:28 AM

    • Don’t know about warding off horse breath, but some people claim that horsemint acts as a natural insect repellent. Even if that’s not so, or not effective for everyone, if you rub your hands on horsemint they’ll come away with a mildly lemony scent.

      You’ve read enough of my posts to have anticipated that the second paragraph would have something to do with mowing. At least this time I can report that the flowers did not get mowed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 10, 2015 at 7:20 AM

  2. Put a mower in the hands of some and they can’t resist using it.

    We just returned from a walk. The birds are sure vocal this morning. It was nice to watch the sun rise and illuminate some distant tall clouds. Expecting a sunny hot day near 90˚.

    Jim in IA

    June 10, 2015 at 6:42 AM

    • Speaking of birds, you guys are early birds if you were already back from a walk before 6:42 in the morning. We were still happily asleep.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 10, 2015 at 7:23 AM

      • I was out of bed by 5. I had a good night of sleep and was wide awake.

        Jim in IA

        June 10, 2015 at 7:57 AM

  3. Yep! It’s been a banner year for the Horsemint! Still blooming beautifully! I noticed yesterday that mowers were at it again. This time, either county or city of Georgetown contracted mowers. I give up!!!

    Agnes Plutino

    June 10, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    • It’s good to hear that you’ve seen plenty of horsemints this year too, Agnes. It’s not good to hear you say, but not at all surprising, that mowers were recently at it again. Chiggers chig and mowers mow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 10, 2015 at 8:30 AM

  4. Ha! We should try that here! You’d think it would be obvious, but clearly it isn’t.


    June 10, 2015 at 10:16 AM

  5. I always cringe when I see the town maintenance crews mowing on the verges. They’re among the best spots for wildflowers. I suppose the verges do need to be kept in check, or we’d have a plethora of poison ivy, bittersweet, and volunteer trees take hold, but it sure would be nice if the schedule let the flowers do their thing first!

    Susan Scheid

    June 10, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    • Right you are. The people who let the contracts should have a clause making the mowing at the “convenience” of the wildflowers rather than the convenience of the mowers. I’m afraid there’s a lot of cringing ahead for all of us before that comes to pass.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 10, 2015 at 12:58 PM

  6. How ironic that this grows by the Department of Transportation. Nice to see someone had some sense to tape off the wildflowers.

    Raewyn's Photos

    June 10, 2015 at 4:40 PM

  7. I wonder how much is budgeted for mowing? Maybe someone could suggest that mowing be reduced as a cost-saving measure. Our council is trying to save money on mowing costs. The suggestion is for residents of the city to take on the job. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/64853452/Christchurch-citizens-to-mow-parks Not sure how well that would work but at least it makes people aware of the cost of mowing and maintenance.


    June 11, 2015 at 6:15 AM

    • I’ve hoped in recent years that budget constraints would lead to less mowing, but I don’t know if that has happened. I see a downside, however, to having citizens out mowing. There are some who are even more fanatical than paid mowers, and who don’t think a yard or a park looks good unless it’s covered with grass uniformly cut to within an inch of the ground. I’ve heard (but don’t know the truth of it) that it was neighbors who complained to the city recently and brought about the mowing of the land at the Floral Park entrance to Great Hills Park, and in the process the cutting down of all the Mexican hat plants there before they’d had a chance to flower, much less set seed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2015 at 7:18 AM

  8. Well. Here I come, with a hopeful note. I found several of these signs in my travels. This one’s at the site of the Fannin Memorial, next to the Presidio. I’m not certain whether all of that property belongs to the Diocese of Victoria, but I know the Presidio does, and the only places they mow are right in front of the fort, and in the parade grounds. The wildflowers in the area were — dare I say it? — going wild.


    June 11, 2015 at 8:03 PM

    • I don’t remember seeing any of those signs, but I do remember dense colonies of wildflowers at the Fannin Memorial and in other parts of Goliad when we visited there three springs ago. The rest of Texas could take a tip from Goliad.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 11, 2015 at 9:02 PM

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