Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Like stars in the night in the bright heat of the Texas sun

with 42 comments


Our most common Clematis, C. drummondii, can flower in dense groups even late in the summer and on into the fall. The flowers average about three-quarters of an inch across (18mm).

I photographed this creamy constellation in far north Austin on September 7th. For years I wandered the property with abandon, but now only a small portion remains undeveloped.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2016 at 4:52 AM

42 Responses

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  1. It is sad about the development. Lovely photo.

    Maria Gianna Iannucci

    September 29, 2016 at 5:01 AM

    • I’ll always remember the property the way it was, and I have plenty of pictures as reminders.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2016 at 7:06 AM

  2. Hi Steven, I understand you here very well. When we moved into our home on the 6th and 7th floor of our building we could only see green all around us; the top of banana and floral trees was all we could see and at night rarely, depending on the wind, could we see a glimmer of light some distance away. And now 14 years later………. trees are now a rarity here, villas, huge office buildings, Hypermarket, clinics, flyover just a few metres away and the long awaited Metro line will run most likely just in front of our 7th floor……..that’s progress……!?!?😞😞😞


    September 29, 2016 at 5:07 AM

    • Yes, it’s a universal story. I’m grateful for the strip of land that still remains in the place where I found the clematis. I don’t know whether that land, too, will get developed. In previous years I’d photographed clematis on other parts of the property, but they’d gone now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2016 at 7:14 AM

  3. Sadly, in all too many locations the walls are closing in. In a way, this reminds me of your algae shot that I enjoy so much.

    Steve Gingold

    September 29, 2016 at 5:22 AM

    • Interesting: that’s a conceptual connection I’d never have thought to make. Good for your imagination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2016 at 7:15 AM

  4. A beautiful constellation. The NZ clematis paniculata is in full bloom at the moment. Not quite a constellation, though. The first 12 seconds of my video shows the clematis paniculata near my house. https://youtu.be/KTW-NWgZsmw


    September 29, 2016 at 5:59 AM

  5. It’s hard to watch open land be swallowed up by development and change.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 29, 2016 at 3:53 PM

    • It is. I drove out about 80 miles into the hill country west of Austin today, and in a bunch of places that previously were lightly populated I saw lots of development going on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2016 at 7:23 PM

  6. Hi Steven, This is a wonderful shot. Love the patterns and colors. I just had a great weekend in Austin but my images are all about the barbecue. 🙂

    Jane Lurie

    September 29, 2016 at 10:47 PM

    • Yes, I see that in your latest post. I’m sorry you couldn’t get out into the countryside a bit. So much fall stuff is happening here now, botanically speaking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2016 at 10:59 PM

      • We drove a bit into Hill Country and also to Lexington but not enough into the countryside. Beautiful areas.

        Jane Lurie

        September 29, 2016 at 11:14 PM

        • Coincidentally, today I did a 220-mile circuit through a part of the Hill Country and found my share of things to photograph. There are also worthy nature places right here in Austin if one knows where to look.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 29, 2016 at 11:19 PM

          • I love Austin. Interesting and vibrant city.

            Jane Lurie

            September 29, 2016 at 11:20 PM

            • It’s hard to believe, but Austin now has more people than San Francisco—as long as you stick to the population within their city limits and don’t count the rest of their metropolitan areas.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 29, 2016 at 11:24 PM

              • Wow! I knew Austin was booming but didn’t realize the comparison to SF. Both great cities seeing incredible change.

                Jane Lurie

                September 29, 2016 at 11:39 PM

                • And some of the cities that were among the most populous when I was growing up, like St. Louis, are way down on the list now:


                  Unfortunately Austin’s rapid growth has meant the loss to me of many properties where I used to photograph nature.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 30, 2016 at 6:16 AM

                • That is sad, Steve.

                  Jane Lurie

                  September 30, 2016 at 10:01 AM

                • In 2014 and 2015 I lost about half a dozen each year. 2016 has been the worst yet, with probably as many as the two previous years combined.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 30, 2016 at 10:28 AM

                • Oh no! 😖

                  Jane Lurie

                  September 30, 2016 at 11:47 AM

                • Yeah, that’s how I felt. I always knew that most of those properties would eventually get developed but I didn’t expect the sudden acceleration of these last three years. There’s a bit of consolation in the fact that some of the places I go to are greenbelts, parks, and preserves, and therefore can’t get developed.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 30, 2016 at 11:55 AM

  7. I thought about these clematis when I came across a post about Nebraska’s stickleaf flowers. I remembered, too, that Lindheimer’s senna was blooming at the same time last year that C. drummondii was going to seed (at least, around Kerrville), but I may miss those treats this year. Despite my desire to go everywhere and see everything, choices have to be made.

    I did notice last weekend that the Maximilian sunflowers are showing up in abundance, but they’re still in bud. Some gayfeather was around, too, and a few blue mistflowers. I think I’ve been over-eager.


    September 30, 2016 at 5:51 AM

    • I, too, have lamented the fact that I can’t be everywhere all the time. Something’s gotta give.

      Yesterday I drove as far west as Kendalia and along the way noticed plenty of Maximilian sunflowers standing tall with their flowers already open. Even photographed a few. The poverty weed was also doing its thing.

      As for stickleaf, the species you linked to looks pretty different from the species in the Austin area, which I only occasionally come across:


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2016 at 6:26 AM

  8. We have a glorious clematis that climbs all over our mailbox and all sorts of critters love it. I’ll be posting a new one very soon. Yours, here, is spectacular. What a pity there’s so little of it left.


    October 1, 2016 at 9:53 AM

    • Fortunately Clematis drummondii is quite common in central Texas. A bunch of it grows in two places (that I know of) in Great Hills Park, half a mile from home. Still, I’m sorry to see that property in far north Austin reduced to such a small fragment of its former self.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2016 at 2:29 PM

  9. To continue the Humboldt story, catching up on news reading, I found this http://www.stuff.co.nz/science/84804621/the-most-famous-boffin-you-never-heard-of And 133 New Zealanders have studied in Germany thanks to the generosity of the Humboldt Foundation.


    October 9, 2016 at 6:59 PM

  10. What an astounding sight. It doesn’t appear to be a vining plant? I have a copy of “The Invention of Nature” but haven’t had time to read it yet. I’m looking forward to it. As a child I lived in Humboldt County, Ca. Famous now, sadly, for pot farms.


    October 26, 2016 at 8:30 AM

  11. […] last time you saw Clematis drummondii was as a constellation of flowers in far north Austin on September 7th. Some of the plants there that day were more advanced and […]

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