Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A different kind of arc

with 17 comments

Unlike the low arcs of the little bluestem seed heads that appeared here last time, the arc in today’s photograph is tall and wooden and frames the bright red leaves of a young Texas red oak (Quercus buckleyi). Contrasting with the red leaves are those of a greenbrier vine (Smilax spp.) that had climbed up not only onto the young oak but also into the taller bare trees on both sides of it. I photographed this pleasant landscape along the Brushy Creek Trail East in Round Rock on December 2nd. Below is another oak I looked up to about 20 minutes earlier, when we’d just begun to follow that section of the trail.

Click to enlarge.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 20, 2018 at 4:44 AM

17 Responses

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  1. The red oaks’ color seems to have been especially vibrant this year. Even here, where the trees aren’t so numerous, they were easy to pick out. I like the symmetry between the two arcing trunks and the two upraised ‘arms’ of red in the first photo. Even though so many leaves remain, they bring Coleridge’s words to mind, with a slight revision.

    “The bright red leaves, the last of their clan,
    That dance as often as dance they can,
    Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
    On the reaching twigs that look up at the sky.”


    December 20, 2018 at 6:42 AM

    • Speaking of looking up at the sky: here and there in the woods in my part of town yesterday I kept noticing very young red oaks, pushing up maybe half a foot off the ground and with only a few leaves, and those leaves spreading horizontal to catch whatever light they could, yet even at that earliest stage of the trees’ growth the leaves that were the first of their clan had turned shades of red.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2018 at 7:27 AM

      • This just occurred to me. The next time you’re in Bastrop, you might drop down to Waelder and see if you can find an arc there.


        December 20, 2018 at 9:06 AM

  2. It’s a beautiful setting, so nicely framed, Steve. The colour of the oak is stunning.

    We are in the festive season and send you and yours best wishes for
    Happy Holidays and a healthy, happy New Year!
    The Fab Four of Cley 🎄❄️🎅🤶🤶🤶❄️🎄


    December 20, 2018 at 7:46 AM

    • Thanks for your holiday good wishes, Dina, and the same back to all of you.

      Yes, the way the tall tree trunks framed the young red oak fascinated me, and I had to take that picture. The greenbrier vine climbing up so high was a bonus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2018 at 8:01 AM

  3. What a great frame for those pretty colors!


    December 20, 2018 at 8:06 PM

    • As much as I liked the even brighter oak leaves in some other places, this one was special because of the natural framing. I hope other people noticed it too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 20, 2018 at 8:50 PM

  4. Have you ever seen the Circus Trees of Bonfante Gardens, which is now Gilroy Gardens? They were grown in Scott’s Valley, close to the farm, and moved to Gilroy years ago. Many of our rhododendrons and camellias also went into the park. The trees were developed using common horticultural techniques, but they amaze those who do not understand how such things work.


    December 23, 2018 at 10:27 PM

    • No, I hadn’t heard of the Circus Trees but Google has:


      What strangeness. I noticed how many of the trees are sycamores. I wonder why people so often chose that species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 24, 2018 at 7:13 AM

      • That is a common observation. There were also privets. Most of the trees were the trashy sorts, and the trashiest and simplest were the ones that survived. There were more interesting specie, but they did not survive. The Circus Trees were abandoned for a long time before being moved to Gilroy.


        December 25, 2018 at 10:29 AM

        • Hmm… To my mind, sycamores aren’t a trashy species at all. I’m quite fond of photographing them.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 25, 2018 at 4:35 PM

          • These are the London plane trees. Although they can make nice big shade trees, they do not work so well in overly refined landscapes. The native California sycamore is a grand tree, but was not used because it is not so cooperative. Some of the other trees used were holly oak (which is always infested with one sort of homopteran insect or another) and viburnum. Some of the original trees were pears and apples, but they did not survive. One of the specimens was left at the original site when it was redeveloped into an office complex, but gardeners actually cut away the grafted arch between them to make them just a pair of very disfigured trees.


            December 27, 2018 at 11:24 AM

            • Thanks for the explanation. Your mention of viburnum reminds me that we have a colorful species of it here:


              Steve Schwartzman

              December 27, 2018 at 3:06 PM

              • Oh, those are rad. I think I saw something like them in a nursery in Oklahoma. The name got my attention of course. I thought it would be some sort of Crataegus. There were so many nice viburnums there, including the snowball bush. California seems to have gotten cheated out of the cool viburnums. Snowball bush is available, but uncommon.


                December 28, 2018 at 3:43 PM

                • I’m just glad to have our native rusty blackhaw, also known as southern blackhaw. As you pointed out, it’s botanically unrelated to hawthorn, although etymologically the haw is the same.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  December 28, 2018 at 6:54 PM

                • Well, we lack hawthorn too. Both are intriguing to me.


                  December 30, 2018 at 7:30 PM

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