Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

An apotheosis of yellow

with 23 comments

Black-Eyed Susan Colony with Horsemints and Trees 6313

No sooner had I woken up on May 30 than there came a loud clap of thunder. Rain followed intermittently for a couple of hours. By around 11 in the morning, though, the sky had mostly turned blue so I headed out to check the large field at Tejas Camp in Williamson County about 25 miles from where I live in northwest Austin. Here you see a part of it. As fantastic as this colony of black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta) punctuated with horsemints (Monarda citriodora) looks, you may be surprised to hear me say that I’ve seen this field looking even better. That was at the same time of year in 2008, and I’ll probably never find the place looking as flowerfully wonderful as it did then.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 28, 2016 at 4:39 AM

23 Responses

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  1. Steven thank you for posting this wonderful photo and I can not wait to be able to sit at my computer again a see this sunshine yellow on my large screen. With your permission it will become my screensaver for a week – surely this will make me better quickly. Carina

    • Hi, Carina. Of course you can use this picture as a screen saver. Your “surely this will make me better quickly” implies that you’re feeling a little down, so I can see how this blast of floral yellow would pick you right up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2016 at 5:56 AM

  2. Splendid. Would love to see it with my own eyes so thank you for your photo.


    June 28, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    • Then you’ll just have to plan to visit Texas in the spring. Everyone should have a chance to see this sort of splendor.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2016 at 7:36 AM

  3. What a wonderful “carpet”!


    June 28, 2016 at 8:31 AM

  4. The two make such a wonderful tapestry. It is hard to imagine it even more floriferous!


    June 28, 2016 at 8:54 AM

    • It was other parts of the large field that made the place as a whole even more floriferous in 2008. This year only a few sections were florally dense (like the one shown here), whereas eight years ago wildflower colonies covered the majority.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2016 at 8:59 AM

  5. One thing I’ve noticed in the larger colonies of flowers I’ve found this year is the fragrance. The masses of gaillardia, horsemint, coreopsis, basketflower, and rudbeckia have been absolutely delightful. Manufactured perfumes can be lovely, but I can’t think of one that replicates the scent of an open field of mixed flowers, like this one.

    I have a friend in Washington state who travels to the commercial flower fields from time to time, and she’s commented on the absence of scent there. I wonder if the needs of the growers elevate other qualities over scent, as commercial tomatoes bred for harvesting machines become tasteless?


    June 28, 2016 at 9:46 PM

    • I think you’re right that commercially bred plants sometimes (often?) sacrifice scent for other qualities, for example durability. We’ve probably all encountered roses that have little or no aroma.

      With some wildflowers the scent is naturally subtle and it takes a group or even a colony for a human nose to appreciate the fragrance. That’s been my experience with rain-lilies. Somewhat tangentially, I noticed this morning that mesquite flowers have a pleasant aroma.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 28, 2016 at 9:57 PM

  6. Once again, my mind is blown by a scene of such magnitude. Such a huge colony. Whether better in the past or not, this is so impressive. When I find black-eyed susans they are in scattered clumps. That is advantageous for single portraits of individuals or a clump, but this is jaw dropping.

    Steve Gingold

    July 1, 2016 at 6:41 AM

    • You really do have to come to Texas in the spring one of these years, even if it means driving for several days to get here. I’d love to see what you’d do photographically with a wildflower-filled landscape like this one. Black-eyed susans and the recently shown clapsing-leaf coneflowers are only two of the various species here that can cover the land with flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 1, 2016 at 7:25 AM

  7. This may be the apotheosis of titles for this yellow dazzler of a post.

    Susan Scheid

    July 2, 2016 at 4:02 PM

  8. Wow. Great photo. I know that field and you definitely found a dense patch, or at least they were not that thick when I was there a week before. And 2008 at Tejas was indeed one of the best displays I have ever seen.

    Ryan McDaniel

    July 31, 2016 at 11:57 PM

    • How nice to share this place with someone who experienced the wonder that it was in the spring of 2008. I wish I could get in a time machine and see it again as it was eight years ago.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 1, 2016 at 1:50 AM

  9. […] of any kind, just the opposite of the way the field had looked in the late spring of 2016 when it was covered with wildflowers. Still we kept on. Things changed abruptly after we followed a side path over to the north fork of […]

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