Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Making up for two weeks

with 21 comments


After I photographed the dead cricket on September 14th, I ended up not taking any more pictures for two weeks—a long time for an inveterate photographer. On September 28th I decided enough was enough, what with botanical fall having been here for some time already. I followed Wells Branch Parkway east out onto the prairie in Pflugerville, and on the still thankfully undeveloped property on the northeast corner of the intersection with 10th Street I photographed some stands of goldenrod (Solidago spp.). I believe there was no breeze, yet the especially dense and chaotic flowering of the plants in this group gives the impression that they were in motion.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 2, 2016 at 4:56 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Good to see so much goldenrod still blooming. Love this sea of yellow.


    October 2, 2016 at 7:34 AM

    • Like you, I was happy, as always, to see all that yellow. As far south as Austin is, “still” doesn’t yet apply to goldenrod. The earliest goldenrod plants have only recently been approaching their peak flowering, and others might be a week or two away from their densest flowers. On September 18th I’d driven past this field and noticed that the goldenrod was just getting started; that’s why I returned 10 days later.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2016 at 7:56 AM

  2. I grew up in Nebraska where Goldenrod is the state flower, but I never saw it in the Southeastern area of the state where I lived. When I moved to Oklahoma I saw it for the first time and it grows just about everywhere here. It’s spectacular by itself, but this image of a sea of yellow is outstanding!


    October 2, 2016 at 8:16 AM

    • Thanks, Littlesundog. It’s good that Oklahoma is making up for what you missed in southeast Nebraska.

      This property had goldenrod groups in various places, but the going-every-which-way-at-once nature of this stand made it the favorite of my visit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2016 at 8:58 AM

  3. Beautiful!


    October 2, 2016 at 9:30 AM

  4. And are you enjoying slightly cooler temperatures to go with the gold? We’ve plunged into quite cold weather, but I understand we’ll be climbing back up into the 70’s soon. It is nice to see a big patch of goldenrods flourishing and I enjoy this image of them very much.


    October 2, 2016 at 9:40 AM

    • Yes, the last few days we finally got a bit of cooler weather. As with you, though, the temperature is predicted to go back up this week and hit highs not in the 70s but in the low 90s.

      The chaotic asymmetry of this goldenrod group appealed to me as much as it does to you. There was a lot more out there than in this view, so I ended up taking about 40 pictures that looked somewhat downward at the colony in various places. To get better perspective, in a few cases I raised the camera as high as I could over my head and guessed at where to aim

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 2, 2016 at 10:03 AM

      • I think it is 50 degrees here right now….brrrrr. I hope you aren’t giving up on photographing altogether? I knew you were planning to pull back but 2 weeks is a long time.


        October 2, 2016 at 10:08 AM

        • I think the lowest we got was an overnight low of 59°. According to the online forecast, we’re not due for that low of a low again till a week from today.

          Yeah, a two-week hiatus is pretty unusual for me at this time of year. One thing that slowed me down was a bunch of chigger bites; I didn’t want to add to my itchiness. We also got some rain that left the ground muddy for a few days.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 2, 2016 at 10:15 AM

          • Aargh! Chiggers…..


            October 3, 2016 at 7:13 AM

            • That’s how I feel. When I walked around in this field I wore my thigh-high boots. They worked, and I ended up with only a few chigger bites.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 3, 2016 at 7:49 AM

              • They were unknown to me until we moved to Illinois. There I was, an unsuspecting child, playing with my toy horses in the grass as I always had back in Washington and California. What an awful discovery that was! 😦


                October 3, 2016 at 8:01 AM

                • Having grown up in New York, I was similarly in for an unpleasant surprise after I moved to Texas.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 3, 2016 at 8:12 AM

  5. I am all caught up again, Steve. So many beautiful photos! I love goldenrod, and that beauty berry is a new one for me. It is truly beautiful.

    Lavinia Ross

    October 2, 2016 at 6:38 PM

  6. This is just splendid. i’ve never seen such a mass of goldenrod; it must have been breathtaking. The every-which-way-ness of the whole that you mentioned is part of its charm, but the symmetry of some of the individual plants reminds me of William Morris prints. Still, this is one of those times when the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

    I fear I’m going to miss the height of our goldenrod bloom this year, but I just looked at my Kansas wildflower and grass book, and discovered seven goldenrods listed. All of them bloom through either September or October, so I suspect I’ll see some different species. The good news is, they won’t be hard to spot if they’re around. That gold may not glitter, but it does shine, especially if it’s sunny.


    October 2, 2016 at 9:02 PM

    • You’ve probably heard me quoting botanists in pointing out that plants don’t read field guides. Even if the “normal” bloom periods for those Kansas goldenrods end in September or October, in some years the circumstances allow for blooming a little later. Let’s hope that’s what you find with the goldenrod in Kansas that supposedly has faded by the end of September or early October. As for the species of goldenrod, I’ve read that they can be notoriously hard to distinguish; I took the easy way out in this post and wrote “Solidago spp.”

      While some of the other goldenrod stands in this field were good, the group shown here did stand out as having the densest flowers. In other photographs I brought out more of the individual-plant symmetry you mentioned by getting low and isolating one or a few plants against the clear blue sky on a happily sunny day.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 3, 2016 at 6:00 AM

  7. So typical of the fields of goldenrod we see here…for a change there is a local wildflower that can parallel the stands you share so often and this is a fine one.

    Steve Gingold

    October 6, 2016 at 4:08 AM

    • I began learning about native plants in 1999 in Texas. A few years later I found myself in the Northeast in September and noticed goldenrod stands in many places, so I know what you mean. Happy sharing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2016 at 6:13 AM

  8. […] The flowering goldenrod I photographed on the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on September 28th attracted many insects, including this American snout butterfly, Libytheana carinenta. […]

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