Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Categorically phantasmasepulchrofloragorical*

with 59 comments

On March 21st, three days after spending time at the wildflower-covered cemetery in New Berlin, we reveled in the Sand Branch Cemetery on FM 2504 west of Poteet in Atascosa County. This time the dense wildflowers were even more widespread than before.

The first photograph sets the scene, while the second and third emphasize the way some of the tombstones were engulfed in a sea of wildflowers.

The other two pictures highlight the profuse wildflowers in their own right.

The red flowers are Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa). The yellows are Nueces coreopsis (Coreopsis nuecensis) and also some sort of daisy with a smaller flower head.

The purplish blue flowers are sandyland bluebonnets (Lupinus subcarnosus). The magenta flowers are a species of Phlox. The whites are white prickly poppies (Argemone albiflora) and a kind of smallish daisy.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

* I’d come up with sepulchrofloral while preparing this post and Susan Scheid independently created phantasmafloragorical to describe the previous cemetery views, so I hybridized the two hybrids.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 28, 2019 at 4:43 AM

59 Responses

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  1. Most friendly cemetery I’ve ever seen!


    March 28, 2019 at 4:49 AM

    • We’ve been finding that a bunch of other cemeteries in south-central Texas have also let their wildflowers thrive, even though some residents complain. Yesterday we took another trip and stopped at three more cemeteries with great wildflowers. Hooray for sensible people!

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 6:36 AM

  2. Thank you for sharing this beauty, Steve.


    March 28, 2019 at 4:52 AM

    • You’re most welcome. I’m happy to find cemeteries like this one, and as a photographer you’d have had a wonderful time there too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 6:38 AM

  3. Those words are a mouthful, but very tasty. What a wonderful scene this old burying ground presents. 🎁

    Robert Parker

    March 28, 2019 at 5:34 AM

    • Are you aware of a cemetery like this in New York? I don’t recall ever seeing one there.
      Bon appétit with phantasmasepulchrofloragorical.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 6:40 AM

      • I’ve never seen any floral display that’s even in the ballpark, to rival this one, even when they bury a mobster. I’ve run across quite a few abandoned burial grounds in NYS (“abandoned” meaning, no one’s taking care of the grounds, but not abandoned by the occupants, as far as I know.) They may have some day lilies, daisies, dandelions, sometimes vinca minor but mostly just grasses. Sometimes daffodils still coming up. I’ve also seen a lot of rural family plots, that have been scrupulously maintained for many years. Although I don’t know anyone in the north, who organizes a family “decoration day,” (not the national holiday) which I’ve read, is a custom in Appalachia. My relatives in Utah took us up one time, to see an alpine meadow in bloom, and that was a sight, resembling your photos, but no cemetery up there.
        My response is running long, but I wanted to mention Mt Hope Cemetery in Rochester – – designed by Olmsted – – no wildflowers, but like a beautiful park, and an interesting and popular place to walk, even nowadays. Huge old trees, always native species, maples, etc.

        Robert Parker

        March 28, 2019 at 7:57 AM

        • Long responses are fine here, no need to worry. I’m with you in saying that the wildflower-covered cemeteries we’ve been to in the past two weeks outdo even a couple of good ones I saw in central Texas years ago:


          One good thing (from my point of view) about these Texas cemeteries is that the wildflowers are gloriously native, as opposed to at least some of the kinds of flowers you mentioned. Of course in most Texas cemeteries, as in almost all cemeteries in the country, the flowers are artificial. In fact in addition to the carpeting of native wildflowers I did notice artificial flowers on some of the graves.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 28, 2019 at 11:00 AM

  4. What a lovely place of eternal rest, amid such beautiful flowers!

    Lavinia Ross

    March 28, 2019 at 7:19 AM

    • I wish all cemeteries were like this. It does get mowed, but only after the wildflowers have gone to seed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 7:31 AM

  5. what a beautiful, peaceful resting place


    March 28, 2019 at 7:29 AM

  6. In a month, give or take, scenes like this will seem to have been a phantasm, as the flowers give way to their natural cycles — and the mowers. It’s been fascinating to see the differences among the cemeteries in different areas. Next year, I’m going to start earlier, and be more intentional about seeking out these great displays.


    March 28, 2019 at 8:00 AM

    • That’s why we made yesterday’s long trip, the third in 10 days, to see as many more of these spectacles as we could. This does seem to have been an unusually good spring for wildflowers in the swathe below San Antonio. You know how much nature can vary from one year to the next. At least in 2020 you’ll know a bunch of good places to check out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 11:04 AM

  7. It shouldn’t surprise me that some residents complain about that incredible beauty….I met a man who complained that the redwood in his yard dropped needles on his driveway. How are those flowers managed? By mowing the rest of the year? Or occasional prescribed burns?


    March 28, 2019 at 8:15 AM

    • My guess is that the cemetery will get mowed after the wildflowers have set seed and dried out. The people who maintain the cemetery couldn’t do a burn because it would damage the tombstones.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 10:02 AM

      • Mowing after the seeds are set is a pretty good management plan.


        March 29, 2019 at 8:59 AM

        • Yes indeed. The key is waiting long enough. Too often the mowers here don’t wait long enough.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 29, 2019 at 12:59 PM

          • Here as well. I never get how the blockheads can be in such a hurry.


            March 30, 2019 at 8:11 AM

            • I’m afraid it comes down to being in a hurry for a paycheck.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 30, 2019 at 9:23 AM

              • I guess. One town over, (to use snow as an example of what I mean) the plows pile the snow to one side of the intersection. In our town, they pile it right up at the corner, on top of the sidewalk. The same amount of time involved, just perhaps a touch of consideration of aiming a little more here vs. there.


                March 31, 2019 at 9:02 AM

                • What, you expect mowers to be considerate? So speaks the cynical New Yorker. It bugs me how many easily fixable things there are that don’t ever seem to get fixed. For example, of all the printed forms I’ve had to fill out in the course of my life, many still have a blank space too short for me write out my full name—and I don’t even have a middle name. Often the same forms provide a blank much longer than need for something like the date.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 31, 2019 at 9:58 AM

                • Yes! Some bureaucrat somewhere decreed how many letters you get, and that’s that forever more.


                  April 1, 2019 at 9:17 AM

  8. Oh so wonderful. Yesterday, on my trip to Karnes City and back, I – unfortunately – didn’t have enough time to go wildflower-hunting. But I did take quite a few pictures of the driveway to our old place. I’ll post some of them in the next few days.


    March 28, 2019 at 9:58 AM

    • Looking forward to it. I’m sorry you didn’t have time to stop and hunt down the wildflowers in areas close to your old place.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 10:03 AM

      • Well, maybe next week, when I’ll have to go down there again. Who knows?


        March 28, 2019 at 10:06 AM

        • If you go down US 181 through Floresville, which seems a likely route from Fredericksburg, the Floresville City Cemetery #2 is fantastic now because it’s all covered with dense wildflowers. The Garza-Valadez Cemetery on 4th St. a bit north of downtown Floresville is also good, especially if you walk toward the back and gaze out into the great wildflower meadow next door.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 28, 2019 at 10:51 AM

          • Thanks for the advice, Steve! Maybe I’ll have more luck next week. I did see a lot of lovely wildflower patches along 181 south of San Antonio, especially around Floresville. The only place I had been thinking of stopping at was the intersection of 775 and 181 [I have mentioned that before]. But when I was there, both on the way down and on the way up, the light was quite bad with a thoroughly overcast sky. So I just drove on.


            March 28, 2019 at 10:54 AM

            • Fortunately we fared better with the light. I recognized the FM 775 you singled out because we stopped at a good wildflower field in the V formed by FM 775 and FM 321 a few miles northeast of the intersection with US 181 that interested you.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 28, 2019 at 11:13 AM

  9. Astonishing. Both the word and the cemetery.


    March 28, 2019 at 1:26 PM

  10. Really beautiful shots! I noticed that in one of your replies that you mentioned that the cemetery gets mowed after seeding out. Good for whomever is making that decision–I wish that practice was more common.


    March 28, 2019 at 2:59 PM

    • Quite a sight, isn’t it? Yesterday we went to the main cemetery in Floresville, which was also densely covered with wildflowers. Afterwards I stopped at the municipal building to ask who was responsible for leaving the flowers alone in the spring. One of the two clerks didn’t know, but the other seemed to. She told us some people had even called to complain that the cemetery was looking too weedy but that the person in charge was not going to mow till after the wildflowers die down. I said she should recommend him for a medal and should recommend his salary be doubled. She was amused and said she’d pass along my suggestion. Like you, I wish there were more like him.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 28, 2019 at 3:37 PM

  11. Lovely. I’ve been hearing about CA’s bumper wildflower blooms this year. I hope all who go to see them tread lightly and do not leave the paths.

    Sherry Felix

    March 29, 2019 at 8:01 AM

    • Someone told me he’d heard on a San Antonio television channel that this is the best year in the last ten there for wildflowers. The California superbloom seems to have gotten a lot more national coverage, but you’ve been seeing that the one down here matches it.

      In a wildflower-covered cemetery two days ago I noticed a mushed-down part in a group of bluebonnets where someone had presumably plunked a kid down for portraits. Fortunately it was the only example of that that I saw.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2019 at 8:23 AM

  12. That’s a mouthful! And an eyeful! I actually have sought out old cemeteries when visiting new locations, just because they are often so interesting. This one sure is!


    March 29, 2019 at 8:45 PM

    • Fortunately the people in charge of some cemeteries have resisted calls for mowing and have held firm on letting the wildflowers remain till after they set seed. On Wednesday we returned to the swathe below San Antonio and visited three more wildflower-wonderful cemeteries.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 29, 2019 at 9:04 PM

  13. My bisyllabic neologisms are nothing compared to your tetrasyllabic ones, Steve!


    March 29, 2019 at 10:07 PM

  14. Fine photographs, glorious color in a somber place. Quite a contrast. That hybrid word needs a few more syllables…


    March 30, 2019 at 8:55 AM

    • On three day trips over 10 days we visited five cemeteries covered with wildflowers, only one of which we’d been to in a previous year. It was gratifying to find that so many cemetery managers have good taste.

      You’re welcome to add syllables to that hybrid word if you’d like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 30, 2019 at 2:11 PM

  15. Okay, that goes beyond hybridization. That is like a GMO word. Your pictures are too impressive for such a waste of letters.


    March 31, 2019 at 9:44 PM

  16. Haha! Came back over to see all your gorgeous new posts of floral abundance, and then saw your new title here. Love it!

    Susan Scheid

    April 1, 2019 at 1:13 PM

    • With regard to expanding your word, I’m reminded of what Isaac Newton wrote: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 1, 2019 at 1:18 PM

  17. […] You’ve already seen pictures of the one at Christ Lutheran Church near New Berlin and the Sand Branch Cemetery near Poteet. The third, on March 27th, was the Cañada Verde Cemetery* on the western side of […]

  18. Oh my just delightful …


    April 3, 2019 at 3:18 AM

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