Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Time again to say that spring has sprung

with 22 comments

Yesterday morning’s weather forecast predicted that by afternoon the temperature would go above 80°F, so before it got too hot we went over to the Southwest Greenway at the Mueller development in east-central Austin, where we confirmed that spring had indeed arrived. One token of that was some agarita bushes (Mahonia trifoliolata) flowering away, as you see in a broad horizontal view above and in a closer upward view in the following photograph.

The Mueller development occupies the site of the old Austin airport that closed in 1999. It’s likely that at least some of the wispy clouds we saw yesterday coincidentally came from diffused airplane contrails, so I’ve decided to follow that theme and add a non-botanical photograph from the Southwest Greenway: it shows Chris Levack’s “Wigwam.” Six years ago I semi-broke botanical ranks and showed his adjacent “Pollen Grain” sculpture.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 16, 2019 at 4:44 AM

22 Responses

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  1. This certainly is a wakeup call. I finally found agarita in bloom on March 22 of last year, near Willow City. I’ve been thinking that this spring’s trip should take place earlier, and your photo seems to confirm that. If only we could break free of this fog and rain so I could finish some jobs and break free for some travel, I’d be as cheerful as those flowers. That’s quite a stand of potential berries, too. It won’t be long until it’s agarita jelly-making time.

    I’d forgotten the pollen grain sculpture, which perfectly depicts the way many of us think of cedar pollen. This is equally attractive as a sculpture, and a wonderful photo.


    February 16, 2019 at 7:05 AM

    • The Texas mountain laurels are flowering in force here now, and yesterday in several places I saw redbud blossoms. A few days ago, in the same area as the bluebonnets I showed last week, some paintbrushes were flowering. I do hope your fog and rain dissipate soon, because an early spring trip would probably serve you well.

      The clouds were so wispy that I had to do something with them. Because of position and lighting, none of my botanical subjects lent themselves to being posed with the clouds. That’s one reason I chose “Wigwam.” I also couldn’t resist photographing a “gourd rack” of birdhouses against the clouds. Oh what heresy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2019 at 8:55 AM

      • Well, putting a gourd (or two, or a few) into your photos is better than being out of your gourd!


        February 17, 2019 at 5:52 AM

        • I assume gourd in slang came to mean ‘mind’ in that expression due to the similar shape and hardness of a gourd and a skull. You’ve reminded me that the modern French word for ‘head’, tête, began as a slang use of Latin testa, that meant literally ‘pot, jug.’

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 17, 2019 at 6:20 AM

  2. Very nice sculptures. That sounds like a nice setting, except for the “development” part. 80 degrees sounds pretty nice, too. We’re all getting tired of being brave up here and just want some warmth.


    February 16, 2019 at 7:12 AM

    • It seems that every February I read Northerners’ longings for spring to arrive.

      Development’s inevitable, given that the population’s increasing and people have to live somewhere. At least in the Greenway there people have worked to promote and restore native plants—with some success, though it’s impossible to drive out all the alien invasives.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2019 at 10:53 AM

  3. What is this ‘spring’ and ‘warmth’ you speak of? My thermometer said 1˚ this morning. More snow is coming tonight.

    Jim R

    February 16, 2019 at 8:02 AM

    • Sorry, but that’s what you get for living in Iowa, where February inevitably makes one wonder whether spring and warmth really ever existed. At least you can enjoy the beauty of snow tonight.

      Even the less-severe winters I grew up with in New York were too much for me, and I headed south when in my late 20s.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 16, 2019 at 10:59 AM

  4. Yay for spring flowers!!


    February 16, 2019 at 8:40 PM

  5. The Mueller Development sounds most interesting, particularly the restoration of blackland prairie. The agarita is very attractive. The wigwam photo reflects the upward, pointy nature of the close up agarita.


    February 17, 2019 at 4:12 AM

    • I’m sorry to disappoint you, but most of the development is mundane: a lot of houses, the less-expensive ones conjoined in rows, and others, presumably at higher prices, with a strip of room separating each from the next. Naturally I’m grateful for the attempted prairie restoration, even if it has had limited success.

      Good for you for pointing out the resemblance between the “Wigwam” and the agarita. While no wigwam has ever assaulted my skin, the pointy tips of agarita leaves have often done so.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 17, 2019 at 4:48 AM

  6. That is some pollen!


    February 18, 2019 at 9:05 PM

  7. That is a wicked mahonia! Until recently, I knew of only a few specie of mahonia; but the genus is remarkably variable. I still prefer the common Mahonia aquifolia.


    February 19, 2019 at 12:24 AM

  8. Spring is on its way here also in Virginia. The cherry trees are in bloom and thankfully the temperatures are staying up, even at night. And the birds are definitely migrating. I saw the first robin already – one more snow and spring will be here to stay (a Nancyism going way way back – and it’s true every year!).


    February 22, 2019 at 10:02 AM

    • Happy spring to you in Virginia. Coincidentally a little while ago I saw what I took to be robins here as well. They were outnumbered by cedar waxwings but definitely holding their own.

      I like your Nancyism. It doesn’t work in Austin, but for the sake of pictures I wish it did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 22, 2019 at 2:27 PM

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