Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The end of winter

with 43 comments

Today, March 20th, marks the official end of winter this year. Nature in Austin hadn’t waited that long. The photograph above, taken six days ago at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, shows a possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) that had largely greened out while still densely laden with the bright red fruits it wore all winter. A clear blue sky pleasantly set off the other two colors. Aiming upward near midday let sunlight transluce the new leaves.

(Not long ago you saw a landscape view from Valentine’s Day showing a possumhaw in its winter form, which is to say totally leafless.)

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2018 at 4:45 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

43 Responses

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  1. I’m ready for 11:15 CDT. Too bad that I’ll be indoors at a meeting and won’t see it happen. 😦

    Jim R

    March 20, 2018 at 7:52 AM

  2. What a great variation on the “rule” of thirds: equal parts leaves, berries, and sky. Chartreuse leaves and berries with a touch of orange are a nice change from the deep red berries of winter, too.


    March 20, 2018 at 8:03 AM

    • I’ve sometimes seen possumhaws whose fruit was truly orange. On rare occasions I’ve found yellow fruit. In both of those cases the colors were apparently original, which is to say genetic, rather than the result of a change away from red over time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 8:14 AM

  3. Steve, we’re about to have a major snowstorm, happy spring to us. Your image is a preview of so much color ahead. I’ve been thinking about your family and you and the assault on Austin. Hopefully, hopefully the culprit will be caught SOON.


    March 20, 2018 at 9:24 AM

    • Yes, there was another bomb overnight in a FedEx facility north of San Antonio, and this morning the news is reporting a suspicious package in a FedEx facility in southeast Austin. On the good side, the more incidents there are, the more evidence the investigators have to track down the culprit(s).

      As for the weather, I’m sorry to hear you’re in for another winter storm up there. Three weeks ago, when the nor’easter struck, my New York sister was visiting Austin and so escaped the ordeal; her house went without power for a week.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 10:03 AM

  4. A cheerful image for the first day of spring. After our recent cold snap which has wiped out much of my tender plants I am looking forward to rising temperatures and new leaves 🙂


    March 20, 2018 at 9:27 AM

    • I’m sorry to hear your early growth got wiped out by a cold snap. That’s always frustrating. Let’s hope nature in the UK proves resilient sooner rather than later. In the meantime, as you said, the pictures of spring in Austin can cheer you along.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 10:06 AM

  5. Lovely image…something to look forward to here. Sorry to hear about the bombings.


    March 20, 2018 at 9:53 AM

    • You’re the second person to mention the bombs, the most recent of which went off north of San Antonio overnight. It’s not the introduction to spring we expected.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 10:09 AM

  6. It’s nice to see some spring color, and I like “transluce,” which I don’t think I’ve ever seen used before, but the meaning was instantly clear to me, or at least, not opaque.

    Robert Parker

    March 20, 2018 at 11:27 AM

    • Based on translucent, I figured there must be a verb transluce, so I searched. The source I linked to is the only one I found that includes transluce, which it gets from a great dictionary of the late 1800s. You may or may not be aware that AT&T spun off Lucent Technologies in the 1990s.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 3:18 PM

  7. A gorgeous and colourful ode to spring.

    Otto von Münchow

    March 20, 2018 at 12:39 PM

    • I was thrilled to look up and see the sight. I took a bunch of pictures, varying the orientation and composition.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 3:19 PM

  8. Very nice and colorful! Spring is finally here! But there again we are expecting over a foot of snow here! Hopefully it will melt quickly. Your image brightened my day!

    Reed Andariese

    March 20, 2018 at 6:01 PM

    • Great, then this post did its colorful job.
      I saw on television that the fourth nor’easter in as many weeks will visit the Northeast again. Sorry, but it looks like spring will be delayed for you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 6:40 PM

  9. Pretty spring colors!! Spring is here on the calendar – but you wouldn’t know it by the weather we are experiencing. We’re about to have our 3rd Nor’easter storm in the past few weeks. I hope all the new blooms survive


    March 20, 2018 at 8:38 PM

    • I’m sorry that some of you are still subject to winter storms. The frequency is unusual this year, but it’s not unusual to get a storm up there in March. I remember snow on Easter Sunday in New York City in 1970 or ’71.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 10:03 PM

  10. That surely looks like the end of winter.


    March 20, 2018 at 8:49 PM

    • Definitely so here. In fact some of the early blooms of spring here are already beginning to fade, even as other species are beginning to flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 20, 2018 at 10:05 PM

  11. It looks almost silly with new foliage developing with old berries remaining.


    March 20, 2018 at 10:30 PM

    • Sometimes cedar waxwings eat all the fruit. Fortunately for me as a photographer that hadn’t happened to this possumhaw.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 21, 2018 at 5:32 AM

  12. This is such a beautiful composition! Those colors are so joyful!

    Chai Sweet Chai

    April 6, 2018 at 5:19 AM

    • Thanks. “Joyful” is a good word for that combination of bright red, green, and blue (especially looking out the window now on a dull morning with overcast skies).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 6, 2018 at 7:33 AM

  13. Green! Translucent or otherwise, we still haven’t got any of that here. Winter is being very stubborn this year.


    April 7, 2018 at 9:14 AM

    • Sorry about winter’s stubbornness. We get cold spells down here, but nothing like what you experience. The picture shown here is from almost three weeks ago already.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2018 at 9:22 AM

      • We may have finally turned a corner, temperature-wise…although I think I said that a few weeks ago too. I found a new place to volunteer in restoration efforts that I’m happy about. It is a small watershed that drains into Lake Michigan. Went out for the first time in a long time last Sunday. It felt wonderful to be out tempting the ticks again. Skunk cabbages were in bloom, but not much else was even in bud yet.


        April 11, 2018 at 9:01 AM

        • Good to hear you now have a place in nature to look forward to going to. I imagine when the weather finally stays warm you’ll be out tempting those ticks to make up for lost time.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 11, 2018 at 9:21 AM

          • you betcha. Tick bait~that’s me! (ugh)


            April 13, 2018 at 11:15 AM

            • Ugh is right.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 13, 2018 at 4:55 PM

              • Still, it is exciting to see all the restoration work going on around here and know I’m a part of it.


                April 16, 2018 at 9:44 AM

                • Sure. Go for it (and for tick repellent).

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 16, 2018 at 3:35 PM

                • Yeah, I’m not sure there is anything effective out there. I’m considering a veil but my gosh, it gets terribly hot in the summer and I imagine it would get in the way.


                  April 18, 2018 at 8:33 AM

                • A hat’s one thing, but a veil quite another. That would seem to get in the way.

                  People have varying tolerances for heat. Mine is on the high end, which is good, because even in the Texas summer I wear a long-sleeve shirt as added protection from the things that want to get at my skin: the sun, biting critters, scratching plants.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 18, 2018 at 9:05 AM

                • I have also taken to wearing long sleeves. I figure, what the heck, I’m already hot. What’s a little more discomfort? Beats sunburn and bug bites and scratches. Some years ago I was out in the field with a botanist and we were counting lupine stems. It was a wet spring and mosquitoes were fierce. She wore a mosquito netting on her hat, and it was awful because the mosquitoes were so thick on the net it was black with them. It freaked us both out and we abandoned our post on the spot. I wasn’t wearing netting and I was getting bitten badly despite DEET.


                  April 19, 2018 at 10:00 AM

                • With such a big mosquito problem, I’d say you were prudent in abandoning your post. I would have, too.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 19, 2018 at 10:36 AM

                • Haha, yeah, at that point we didn’t really care how many lupine stems were there.


                  April 20, 2018 at 4:49 PM

                • I sure wouldn’t have, either.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 20, 2018 at 5:08 PM

                • We’ve got our spring ephemeral pool standing in the back yard…this time every year I think longingly of frogs, and tadpoles to eat the mosquito larvae. Sadly, the water dries up and I know the frogs would die. I think about making the pond permanent but I think it wouldn’t work in our situation. Guess I’ll go out and drop in some mosquito donuts, instead. Oh well.


                  April 22, 2018 at 8:00 AM

                • The phrase “mosquito donuts” strikes me as strange. I won’t ask whether they’re glazed or unglazed.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 22, 2018 at 8:25 AM

                • Regardless, I’ll tell you they are unglazed little cakes imbedded with B. theringiensis (SP?) that targets the mosquito larvae but supposedly doesn’t kill anything else. I’m dubious about that so hate to use it, but I don’t want to be responsible for the neighborhood source of mosquitoes.


                  April 23, 2018 at 8:30 AM

                • Ah, civic responsibility.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 23, 2018 at 8:54 AM

                • sigh.


                  April 24, 2018 at 11:36 AM

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