Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not like my high school, and probably not like yours, either

with 49 comments

What makes Round Rock’s Cedar Ridge High School distinctive in the spring is the great extent to which wildflowers cover the front part of its campus. Mostly that means bluebonnets, Lupinus texensis. Still, several other species put in an appearance; the prominent yellow flower heads in the photo above are greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium, one of the most common wildflowers in central Texas. The few mostly red flower heads are Gaillardia pulchella, known as blanketflower, Indian blanket, and firewheel.

The picture below gives you a sense of scale. By the time I took these pictures on April 16th, visitors had made little hollows in various places where they’d posed for portraits in the bluebonnets. While I aimed to keep those people-pressed hollows out of my photographs, there might be one just to the right of center in the second photograph. I didn’t get close to the trees, which from a distance looked like they might be huisaches.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2018 at 4:51 AM

49 Responses

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  1. how beautiful


    April 24, 2018 at 4:59 AM

  2. Given that bluebonnets make such an impression on people, I suppose it’s only natural that people should leave their impressions on the bluebonnets.

    When I visited Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg, their creativity impressed me as much as the flowers. In addition to the lovely, large fields of bluebonnets, they provided a smaller area filled with the flowers. Signs invited people to use that smaller field as a place for their photos, and from the looks of things, it was working out well. The large fields were pristine, while the photo plot was filled with people pleased to find such a convenient spot for the traditional portrait.


    April 24, 2018 at 5:47 AM

    • Let’s hear it for your well-turned first sentence. I’ve occasionally seen other places that had a designated spot for taking bluebonnet pictures. It’s a Texas version of the old practice at a picnic of setting out a little food a short distance away to distract ants from the main area where people were eating.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 5:58 AM

  3. That’s some impressive sight. Akin to our carpets of bluebells. But easier to photograph in the open.


    April 24, 2018 at 6:48 AM

    • I’ve seen pictures of your bluebells carpeting the woods. Maybe someday I’ll get to see them in person.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 7:10 AM

  4. Beautiful. This is where my sister-in-law (who lives in Round Rock) photographs her kids in the bluebonnets each year.


    April 24, 2018 at 7:03 AM

    • Ah hah, a personal connection to the place. You’re ahead of me: not till last week did I learn about the high school’s large bluebonnet colony. It’s commendable of the authorities to have planted native wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 7:13 AM

      • It makes more sense to plant fields of native seasonal wildflowers than it does to schedule regular mowing (which costs $). ‘Re-wilding’ doesn’t have to be a major undertaking; sometimes it means just to leave the heck alone.


        April 24, 2018 at 7:55 AM

        • If you could get mowers to leave wildflowers the heck alone, you’d win the Nobel Prize for common sense. Fat chance, I’m afraid.

          What I don’t know is if the school has sown seeds for wildflowers that bloom in other seasons.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 24, 2018 at 8:01 AM

  5. What a wonderful outlook for the students and teachers.


    April 24, 2018 at 7:17 AM

    • And not just outlook but also outscent, to coin a word. A flowering colony of bluebonnets has a pleasant aroma.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 7:25 AM

      • I was wondering about the dents/hollows in the bluebonnets and found this article http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/bud-kennedy/article208242004.html Maybe there were dogs romping in the bluebonnets, whereas my mind had been imagining students romancing in the bluebonnets.


        April 24, 2018 at 7:37 AM

        • I suspect it was mostly people, but some people do let their dogs run loose in places where that’s not allowed (which is almost everywhere inside city limits).

          In the linked article I find it interesting that “The House also refused to exempt picking poison ivy, jimsonweed or locoweed.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 24, 2018 at 7:47 AM

          • Yes that was interesting.


            April 24, 2018 at 8:01 AM

            • Jimsonweed and locoweed cause illness and even death if ingested. Nevertheless, their flowers are pretty, and that’s what the legislature wanted to protect.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 24, 2018 at 8:07 AM

  6. I don’t think I could concentrate, if I had to look at that view from my classroom.

    automatic gardener

    April 24, 2018 at 7:38 AM

    • I thought about that. In the photograph of the school at


      the bluebonnets covered the frontmost area, including the even larger part that would be visible if the picture extended downward. From what I can tell, the classrooms are in the buildings farther back, which therefore wouldn’t look out on the flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 7:53 AM

  7. Wow…..I couldn’t concentrate either if this surrounded my former school. Incredible!


    April 24, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    • When you posted your comment I was answering the previous one about students not being able to concentrate. Look back at that answer and you’ll see why students non concentrating probably isn’t a problem—at least not on account of the bluebonnets. Students can still find many other reasons not to concentrate.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 7:56 AM

  8. I might not have appreciated this colorful scene during my high-school days, but I definitely would now. What a dream of color and light!


    April 24, 2018 at 8:48 AM

    • I like the way you put it: “a dream of color and light.”

      You’ve raised a good question. How many of the students at this school appreciate the wildflowers?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 9:03 AM

  9. Oh my…. Breathtaking view of wild beauties!!


    April 24, 2018 at 9:05 AM

  10. Lucky kids to see that display outside their school.


    April 24, 2018 at 9:45 AM

    • Let’s hope some of them appreciate their native wildflowers. I’d never seen anything like this floral display at a high school.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 9:47 AM

      • I’m told that the fields around my high school contain some very high quality wildflowers, but all I ever saw there were stands of cattails. How marvelous to see them spread out like this.


        April 24, 2018 at 11:33 AM

  11. Lucky students and teachers! Gorgeous views.


    April 24, 2018 at 10:30 AM

  12. Beautiful flower display! Those large spreads of flowers are incredible. They remind me of the Arizona desert in spring.


    April 24, 2018 at 10:56 AM

    • You’re fortunate to have seen the Arizona desert in spring. I’d love to experience it someday. In the meantime, central Texas has its springtime charms.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2018 at 10:59 AM

  13. Spring is an explosion of color in nature. In the countryside, in the city parks, on the balconies of the apartments.

    Saturday morning I went for a walk in a very large garden near Paris, to admire the cherry blossoms and spring flowers. it was wonderful

    • The farther north people live (in the Northern Hemisphere), the more likely they are to long for the coming of spring. Paris is a lot farther north than Austin, and even than the New York I grew up in, so I appreciate your pleasure in the changes that have finally come. Je te souhaite un joli printemps.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2018 at 5:44 AM

  14. These are stunning! That your pictures are on the grounds of a high school is amazing. I have to think this is a calming influence in spring.

    I followed your link to Cedar Ridge HS and it was stunning too, but not for bluebonnets this time. It was all the links for reporting suspicious behavior, crime, and the suicide help line. OK, in honesty there were only about three I think, but that there are any at all is a bizarre testament of the times.


    April 25, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    • Your idea of the wildflowers having a calming influence made we wonder to what extent it can offset the surge in teenage hormones in the spring. Will the combination be a net positive or a net negative?

      I hadn’t paid attention to the high school’s website other than the photograph. What you found there is indeed a testament of the times. where things are going to end up, I don’t know, but I’m worried. I’m also worried about the $65,000 that every single person in the country currently owes as a share of the national debt, which keeps going up. It’s gonna take an awful lot of wildflowers to calm that anxiety.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2018 at 7:41 AM

  15. A field full of bluebonnets, what else could you want 😃


    April 28, 2018 at 1:34 AM

  16. […] I showed you the grounds of Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock last spring, the bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) had done their thing but the huisache trees (Vachellia […]

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