Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Following leads to the southeast

with 47 comments

After I published a post last week entitled “Not a good year for bluebonnets,” three people locally gave me reports on places where wildflowers are currently looking good. In “Bluebonnets redeem themselves” you saw the results of following Agnes Plutino’s lead to the northeast. Craig78681 and Betty Wilkins mentioned places to the southeast, and yesterday I headed that way. The picture above confirms that their leads panned out. I took the photograph on the north side of FM 1327 just west of US 183 in Creedmoor*. By now you recognize the bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis). Mixed in with them are pink evening primroses (Oenothera speciosa), not fully open because of the persistent breeze. The yellow spots are Texas dandelions (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus). This is how Texas is supposed to do spring wildflowers.

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* Having grown up on Long Island, I always think of Creedmoor as a mental hospital.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2018 at 4:44 AM

47 Responses

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  1. Reminds me of a field near me last year, CR11O/Rockride Ln, east side of road just north of the new Saddlecreek subdivision. Not sure about this year. Will explain why later. Also, Sam Houston Avenue that shoots southeast off the Inner Loop toward SH130 is worth checking out before the grass gets any taller. .

    Agnes Plutino

    April 11, 2018 at 5:53 AM

    • Thanks for another suggestion. I know what you mean about grass getting taller. In particular, Johnson grass has been a problem for me, spoiling a bunch of would-be pictures yesterday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 7:36 AM

  2. I don’t remember ever seeing primrose and bluebonnets so nicely intermingled. It’s quite a different effect than paintbrush and bluebonnets. I’m glad you were able to find them — even if I did, I still have trouble with views like this and probably couldn’t get a decent photo. They surely would be fun to see, though. You’re right: this is the Texas Spring in its full glory.


    April 11, 2018 at 6:20 AM

    • I don’t remember ever before seeing such a good mix of these two, either. It’s a pleasant alternative to the more common sight, and one that’s still always welcome, of bluebonnets and paintbrushes. It suddenly occurred to me know that this is a good follow-up to the recent “pink and blue” theme.

      The hard thing in a picture like this is keeping all or at least most of the flowers in focus from near to far. I used a rather high ISO that let me stop the aperture down to f/20. Then I focused part-way out into the field. The most distant parts of the field still didn’t quite come into focus, but details that far in the background would be almost indistinguishable anyhow. Getting up on a tall ladder would have helped, but the owner of the field was inconsiderate enough not to leave one standing around by the road.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 7:58 AM

      • I love the vision of you atop your ladder, out in the middle of the field. A little extra elevation does help from time to time. I’ve sometimes wished I still had my mother’s old car — an Oldsmobile made entirely of steel, with real bumpers. I could have put that thing to work as a substitute ladder.


        April 12, 2018 at 9:49 PM

        • With a time machine you could see me standing on a ladder at the edge of a field taking pictures. I used to carry a stepladder in my trunk to use as a photo aid. Somehow I got out of the habit of keeping it in the trunk, I think because I didn’t often use it. What you say about that old Oldsmobile reminded me that Ansel Adams had a platform on top of his car:


          Steve Schwartzman

          April 12, 2018 at 10:53 PM

  3. A lovely combination to see panning out in front of me.


    April 11, 2018 at 7:34 AM

  4. I am glad this Creedmoor is only home to thousands upon thousands of beautiful blooms. I can’t imagine how anyone ever thought it was a good idea for the other Creedmoor to house 7,000 inpatients.


    April 11, 2018 at 7:55 AM

    • My impression from the article is that the organizers never imagined there would be so many residents. The original intent was for patients to enjoy fresh air away from the crowded and unsanitary inner city. Unfortunately, New York kept growing. I haven’t lived in New York since the early 1970s, so I didn’t realize that much of Creedmoor has been decomissioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 8:14 AM

    • I just noticed a curious connection: “Dr. Jacob T. Wilhite, once the country’s foremost authority on rabies and the founder and director of the Pasteur Institute at the Austin State Hospital, was born in Creedmoor.” The Austin State Hospital, like the Creedmoor in New York, is a psychiatric institution.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 8:23 AM

      • Most curious, or curiouser and curiouser, a la Alice .


        April 11, 2018 at 8:49 AM

        • Funny you should use that expression. In a recent reply to a comment I initially wrote “curiouser and curiouser” but then changed the wording.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 11, 2018 at 9:19 AM

  5. Wow, you weren’t kidding, that’s the way to do spring flowers, just spectacular. I’ve never seen that many wildflowers in one place, in my life.
    “Creedmoor” to me means a fancy target rifle. The Creedmoor competition, which began after the Civil War, was originally held on the land where they built the psychiatric center.

    Robert Parker

    April 11, 2018 at 7:58 AM

    • I would never kid around about something as solemn as spring wildflowers. Seriously.

      Okay, not seriously. But on the serious side, sights like this are a reminder of how much has been lost. There are accounts from the 1800s of people in Texas traveling all day and never being out of sight of dense wildflowers.

      This was the first I’d ever heard of Creedmoor in connection with guns:


      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 8:31 AM

      • I hope the U.S. will continue to protect public lands, so people can see sights like this.
        Creedmoor was started after the Civil War demonstrated the potential impact of skilled snipers. (The founder of the U.S. Sharpshooters was Hiram Berdan, who was born in a village next to mine, Phelps, NY.) After the war, these target shooting competitions became one of the country’s major sports for a while. Like competitive walking, which was also a major deal, it faded away

        Robert Parker

        April 11, 2018 at 8:47 AM

        • Texas is near the bottom of the list when it comes to the percent of land owned by the federal and state government:


          Only three states in the Midwest rank lower, presumably because so much land has been used for agriculture.

          On the other hand, because Texas is so large, even a small percent can mean a big area. For example, Big Bend Ranch State Park covers 486 square miles. That’s 40% the size of the whole state of Rhode Island. Big Bend National park is 1252 square miles, which is slightly bigger than Rhode Island. Big Bend is in west Texas, and therefore remote from almost all of the people in the state.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 11, 2018 at 9:03 AM

          • That’s very interesting. A park that’s bigger than Rhode Island, wow. the Finger Lakes National Forest, which is partly in my county, is only 25 sq. miles

            Robert Parker

            April 11, 2018 at 9:10 AM

            • And national forests still often have people living in them; they’re not strictly nature. Likewise for Adirondack State Park, which looks huge on the map of New York but as you know has lots of towns and private land within it.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 11, 2018 at 9:28 AM

        • I didn’t realize you know so much about sharpshooting. I guess Hiram Berdan having been born in the next town over made you aware of it. I see Phelps is midway between Syracuse and Rochester.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 11, 2018 at 9:06 AM

          • Yeah, you’re exactly right (bullseye!) I don’t shoot, and am no expert on sharpshooting, it was the local history angle. Just about every village around here has a local history museum. Berdan was an interesting character, with a mixed reputation, and when the war ended, he went off to Russia to invent guns for the Tsar.
            And when I studied history in college, the period I found the most interesting was 1870-1915.

            Robert Parker

            April 11, 2018 at 9:20 AM

  6. I lived in Texas for many years. Flower time in the Spring was my favorite time of year. I miss the fields of bluebonnets.

    Caroline Smith

    April 11, 2018 at 8:35 AM

  7. I’d say you did strike floral gold in this one. I’m jealous that you have pink wildflowers. Ours are almost always yellow to accent any blues or purples we get.


    April 11, 2018 at 8:58 AM

    • The pink evening primroses are the outlier; the other related species I’m aware of have yellow flowers, for example


      While pink evening primroses are an outlier, they’re a very common wildflower. In fact they’re so common I learned what they are even before I got interested in native plants. As you see here, pink evening primroses have a predilection for forming large colonies.

      Yellow mixed with purple or blue still makes for a good combination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 9:16 AM

      • There is a cultivar of touch-me-nots that is pink. Maybe I could gather pink flowers in my garden this year. I confess I’m pretty tired of yellow, but you’re right that it does make a good contrast with blue and purple. Makes the Saints happy, anyway. Or is that the Pirates? I dunno.


        April 13, 2018 at 11:17 AM

  8. Amazing assortment of wild flowers!!


    April 11, 2018 at 10:50 AM

  9. Ahhhhh, so nice to see the bluebonnets again. I’m getting older (maybe an evening primrose) and still haven’t been in Texas to see them.
    Lovely with the pink and hints of yellow. Thanks!

    Dianne Lethcoe

    April 11, 2018 at 1:10 PM

    • Then the evening primrose from over there should come and see the ones over here. Let’s hope next spring will be the charm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 1:37 PM

  10. How lucky for us that you followed the leads to this spectacular spring display. I’ve seen some of this in Texas only once, one spring many years ago when I drove to Abilene to visit my grandparents. Your photograph brings back fond memories of that trip.

    Susan Scheid

    April 11, 2018 at 3:03 PM

    • I’m pleased that the photograph brought back fond memories of this part of the world for you, Susan. With pictures and words I’ve been encouraging people to come see a springtime floral display here. Along the lines of “Next year in Jerusalem,” let it be “Next spring in Texas.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 3:23 PM

  11. A field of blooms like that is an incredible sight! Absolutely gorgeous!


    April 11, 2018 at 8:36 PM

  12. Wow!! That’s just stunning! We do have evening primrose on this place, but it hasn’t done well the last few years. When we first moved her I planted it on the north side of the house and it went wild. For some reason it only lasted a few years and the patch died out. Such a delicate wild flower.


    April 11, 2018 at 8:44 PM

    • Stunning it was, no question. We drove much further afterwards but nothing else came close to equaling this.

      You’re in the natural range for pink evening primroses, and that accords with what you report about the plants originally doing well on your property. Why they later died out is the mystery. Perhaps you could check with a local ag agent to see if your soil lacks something or has too much of something for long-term prosperity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2018 at 8:52 PM

  13. Absolutely glorious!

    Jet Eliot

    April 12, 2018 at 8:07 AM

  14. What a sweet combination. We have our own versions of those wildflowers, but they do not mix. The evening primrose is about the same color, maybe a bit rosier, maybe a bit paler, but it lives on hillsides and in sunny canyons. I remember it growing on exposed serpentinite where a roadway had been cut. Our sky lupines are lighter blue than the Texas bluebonnet, and are sometimes mixed with contrasting California poppies. Both are rather uncommon now. Where they coexist, one might dominate at times, only to allow the other to dominate for a few subsequent years. They take turns.


    April 12, 2018 at 11:28 PM

    • How considerate of them to take turns, even if they don’t mix.

      The Texas legislature made all five species of Texas lupines the official state wildflower. One of them, Lupinus subcarnosus, has flowers of a lighter blue than Lupinus texensis:


      In looking up Oenothera californica,


      I found that California has many species in that genus, even without including the recently reclassified Gaura.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 13, 2018 at 7:08 AM

      • Yes, but some of the evening primroses are in remote areas. The one that I remember from San Luis Obispo County is indistinguishable from the one that lives near here, and may be the same specie. I have not seen them here in a long time.
        For a long time, California was supposed to be the only state that had two state trees, the coastal redwood and the giant redwood, even though the coastal redwood was the original state tree. It seemed rather silly. However, a few states do not specify the specie of their tree or flower, like the yucca of New Mexico. They really should be more specific about that sort of thing.


        April 13, 2018 at 9:54 PM

  15. Wow! An ocean of flowers! Wonderful!


    April 14, 2018 at 2:19 AM

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