Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Cañada Verde

with 53 comments

On our three trips south of San Antonio from March 18–27 we stopped at five cemeteries covered with wildflowers. 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 Floresville. There the wildflower that predominated was the white prickly poppy, Argemone albiflora.

In a several places winecups (Callirhoe spp.) punctuated the white:

And here’s a closer look at some of the crinkle-petaled prickly poppies** in their own right:

* In case you’re wondering, Cañada has nothing to do with Canada. The Spanish word caña means ‘cane,’ and a cañada is ‘a gully, a ravine, a low-lying piece of wet land,’ in other words ‘a place that fosters the growth of a canebrake.’

** Try saying “crinkle-petaled prickly poppies” quickly several times in a row.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 2, 2019 at 4:39 AM

53 Responses

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  1. Oh, my. Instead of saying “crinkle-petaled prickly poppies” several times in a row, I’ll stick with “I ought to have gone to Floresville.” These are beautiful. The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw such an expanse of poppies was, “Never mind the hellish prickles. These poppies are heavenly.”

    shoreacres

    April 2, 2019 at 5:30 AM

    • Floresville really lived up to its name, cemetery-wise. We went there because I’d seen online pictures of its main cemetery, which I’ll treat in an upcoming post. Coming to Floresville from the west, I followed a country road I picked on the map and stumbled onto Cañada Verde, which turned out to be one of two wildflower-covered Mexican cemeteries in Floresville. When I pulled over to park, a friendly guy named Rufino Cantú was already there. He has family in the cemetery and walked us around, telling us things about the place as we went. Of all the five cemeteries we toured, this one had the greatest concentration of white prickly poppies. Given that that’s your favorite flower color, you’d have enjoyed visiting. In fact if you can squeeze out the time to go soon, I think Floresville will still look pretty good.

      Your “Never mind the hellish prickles” immediately called to mind “Never mind the why and wherefore” from Pinafore (with lyrics here).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 2, 2019 at 7:40 AM

      • What a delightful association. I’ve not heard that in some time, and enjoyed it immensely.

        I was thinking today about the concentration of flowers in all the cemeteries, and it occurred to me that the very nature of the setting probably increases their density. If they have room to spread out, as in a field, the number of flowers might well be the same, but it’s impossible to get these impressive photos; the flowers are too far apart.

        I need to make a trip up to Kerrville in a couple of weeks, and I’ll make a point to find some of these places then. If nothing else, I’ll know where they are for next year. I fairly well wore myself out the past couple of weeks — I’m content right now to go back to work, so I can rest up!

        shoreacres

        April 2, 2019 at 8:56 PM

        • You know the old adage about needing a vacation to rest up from a vacation.

          Your conjecture about wildflowers being constrained in cemeteries reminded me that when we went to the city office and asked about the Floresville cemetery, one of the things the woman told us was that the newly built apartments across the street from the cemetery sit on land that used to be as densely covered with wildflowers as the cemetery is now. That’s a counterexample, and we also saw some pretty dense colonies of wildflowers in large fields. Of course we also saw sparser wildflowers spread out across large spaces. It seems that both things are possible.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 2, 2019 at 9:40 PM

  2. If I were going to be buried somewhere, this is where I’d want to be. That grave looks so cozy there, tucked in among the flowers. Would it be difficult to convert your yard to a sea of flowers like this? I think I’d be tempted to try.

    melissabluefineart

    April 2, 2019 at 9:56 AM

    • I assume that after these white prickly poppies die back someone will mow them and then probably also use a weed-eater or other device to clear them from less-accessible places. I’m not a gardener, and I think that’d be a lot of work for me in my yard. At my age, I’m content to find my wildflowers elsewhere (although a few native ones do spring up in my yard all by themselves).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 2, 2019 at 6:44 PM

      • I had a colony of Bloodroot spring up when we stopped mowing around a baby oak tree that the squirrels planted. Since then it has spread throughout my garden, a most welcome addition.

        melissabluefineart

        April 4, 2019 at 9:17 AM

        • Sounds like a welcome addition indeed.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 4, 2019 at 9:21 AM

          • I suppose if I could blanket the entire yard in wildflowers I would have to mow them at the end of the season, after they set seed. Especially here because all of our plants get so tall.

            melissabluefineart

            April 5, 2019 at 8:10 AM

  3. So beautiful!

    montucky

    April 2, 2019 at 5:11 PM

  4. What a soothing setting for a cemetery; just viewing the images gives (me) a sense of calm. In person it was surely very comforting. Those lacy white poppies are lovely, especially in the final image.

    • When I saw my first Latin-American cemeteries half a century ago, I liked the fact that they were more folksy and colorful than most cemeteries in the United States. Cañada Verde is obviously a Mexican-American cemetery, but even three of the Anglo cemeteries in that area have allowed wildflowers free rein in the spring.

      We have white prickly poppies in Austin, too, though I don’t often see them as dense here as in these pictures from more rural areas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2019 at 5:31 AM

  5. Gorgeous field of poppies and closer to what a cemetery should be rather than a spotless clean mowed lawn.

    Steve Gingold

    April 3, 2019 at 4:08 AM

    • Amen, brother. On our 200-mile drive yesterday, all the cemeteries we saw were unfortunately of the latter type.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2019 at 5:20 AM

  6. I hope someone won’t decide that these cemeteries need to be “cleaned up.” It would be very comforting to know that one’s final resting place might be similarly adorned.

    tanjabrittonwriter

    April 3, 2019 at 7:55 AM

    • It’s the same battle as the one against mowers in general and the people who want everything to be shorn to within an inch of the ground. A woman in the Floresville city offices last week told me they were already getting calls from people complaining that the main city cemetery was looking too weedy and asking to have it mowed. I’ll have pictures of that wonderfully wildflowered cemetery tomorrow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2019 at 8:12 AM

      • A misguided sense of “order.”
        Maybe you could try to publish your cemetery photos on the town’s website or blog, if such a thing exists, to try to provide a different perspective?!

        tanjabrittonwriter

        April 3, 2019 at 3:04 PM

        • I don’t know about the town’s own website, but there’s a Facebook group called Texas Wildflowers that has featured a bunch of photographs of the Floresville City Cemetery over the past few weeks. That’s how I found out about it and knew to go there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 3, 2019 at 4:07 PM

          • I hope you can make your opinion heard, and your photographs seen!

            tanjabrittonwriter

            April 3, 2019 at 5:02 PM

            • After my previous reply to you it occurred to me that the people who’ve complained to the city officials in Floresville have seen the cemetery covered with wildflowers in person and still think it looks weedy. I’m afraid nothing will ever convince people like that, alas.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 3, 2019 at 5:19 PM

        • Here here! Fabulous idea. A newspaper needs to get involved as well. If we are to save insect species from going extinct, we need a serious paradigm shift.

          Shannon

          April 4, 2019 at 1:06 PM

      • ‘Shorn to within an inch of the ground’ explains my neighbors. They are not too keen on my letting the wildflower patch do its thing.

        Shannon

        April 4, 2019 at 1:02 PM

        • I commiserate with you. I hope local regulations leave you some freedom. I remember a case some years ago where a homeowner’s association got after a resident who dared to fill the yard with bluebonnets, the official state wildflower.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 4, 2019 at 7:56 PM

          • Only time will tell. I placed a couple of decorative pieces into the wildflower patch, even hung a hummingbird feeder so it might be more obvious what is its purpose. I am always surprised when a neighbor walks by asking what’s up with the patch (‘Hoping to find some four-leafed clovers?’); the bright yellow ‘Bee Crossing’ sign should be satisfactory enough for now.

            Dozens of different insect species 🐝 🦋 have visited alread this month, including a new one I’ve not seen before. SUCCESS.

            Shannon

            April 7, 2019 at 12:58 PM

    • Though this may be difficult to actually see through, it is my wish to be buried intact—no embalming, no clothing, no box—wrapped into a fungi burial suit. These amazing creatures do several things at once: 1) detoxify my body, 2) decompose my body, and 3) feed my body to surrounding plants and trees. It’s the ultimate in my myriad recycling projects.

      I’ll leave the cemeteries to human constructs. I want to be WILD with nature. 😀

      Shannon

      April 4, 2019 at 1:01 PM

  7. Prickly poppies. Never heard of them much less seen any in Texas. They pair well with wine cups, another flower I’ve yet to see here. What a fun field trip that must have been for you and Eve!

    Every cemetery in my area is neatly kept Bermuda grass with flowers — usually the silken kind — adorned for graves in carefully placed vases. Who can ever have though this is pretty for our loved ones?

    Nature does it way better than Hobby Lobby; all we have to do is not mess it up. So easy it’s silly.

    Incidentally, we have been rewilding our property bit by bit, and since the wildflowers liked the front yard this spring, I have intentionally mowed around them as well. I have had several neighbors question my actions; it’s only a matter of time before I get the HOA notice in the mail I’m thinking. But the bees 🐝 and butterflies 🦋 are loving what I’ve done, so I’m happy.

    Shannon

    April 4, 2019 at 5:39 AM

    • What you say about never having even heard of prickly poppies surprises me. The USDA map at
      https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ARAL3
      shows them in the the counties of Harris and Brazoria, so you may well see some in your vicinity, especially now that you know what they look like. The map for one species of winecup
      https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CAIN2
      shows it in even more counties in your area.

      I’m with you on “Nature does it way better than Hobby Lobby.” Experience tells me that some people, maybe many people, maybe even most people, aren’t of that mind. Check out my replies to Tanja in the comments right before yours. I once wrote a letter of support for some native plant people who were running into trouble with a neighborhood association.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 4, 2019 at 8:19 AM

  8. How nice that the cemeteries are so pretty, at least for part of the year. I think that if I were to be buried in a cemetery, and were actually concerned about it after my departure, I would want to be in a cemetery in my homeland, and share it with native plants and wildflowers.

    tonytomeo

    April 4, 2019 at 11:16 PM

    • I certainly see why you feel that way. Are you aware of any cemeteries like this in California?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 5, 2019 at 6:17 AM

      • No; but I do not know the cemeteries that are out in rural areas. An old cemetery in Monterey has the graves of some of the first Spanish people to arrive in California. I attended the funeral of a friend’s mother, who is a direct descendant of those first people to arrive from Spain! The cemetery is covered in rough lawn. I don’t know why, but rough lawn seems to look better in an old cemetery like that. The lawn of the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno (for members of the Military), is perfect, but also seems to fit that cemetery perfectly. The Bakersfield National Cemetery near Arvin is completely different, with ‘nothing’ to cover the bare soil of the desert.

        tonytomeo

        April 6, 2019 at 10:33 AM

        • The Bakersfield Cemetery could host desert plants native to the area. That would be a cemetery like none I’ve ever seen.

          The Moneterey cemetery sounds nice. I like old cemeteries with tombstones in various languages. In central Texas there are some written in German, Spanish, even Swedish.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 6, 2019 at 10:40 AM

          • The landscaped perimiter areas of the Bakersfield National Cemetery feature desert and chaparral plants, but there is nothing where the grave sites are. I am not certain if native wildflowers will be allowed to move in. Bare ground tends to stay bare out there for a very long time.

            tonytomeo

            April 6, 2019 at 12:10 PM

            • If the bare ground itself doesn’t prevent those plants from moving in, the people who maintain the cemetery might, such is the antipathy of so many people.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 6, 2019 at 12:22 PM

              • Regardless of how the wildflowers are excluded, whether natural or unnatural, I do not think of the absence of vegetation to be antipathetic. To me, it is appropriate to the location. If wildflowers move in, that would be fine too.

                tonytomeo

                April 6, 2019 at 12:38 PM

  9. We have some native wildflowers that grow in our pasture just south of the house, and then large patches out in the pecan orchard. Forrest used to complain a bit about me leaving these areas of wildflowers to grow and go to seed most of the spring and into summer, before allowing him to mow them down with the brush hog. Every year these areas have grown, and the results are spectacular. So, people may laugh at me mowing around these areas as they grow and develop, making it look like I missed spots with the mower, but my intentions are all about spreading the beauty of the wildflowers. Someday, I hope, my efforts will be appreciated

    Littlesundog

    April 7, 2019 at 7:17 AM

    • I appreciate the fact that you’re encouraging those wildflowers. Have you considered doing a post about that?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2019 at 7:24 AM

  10. Amazing Steve … wonderful photos. Those flowers are just super

    Julie@frogpondfarm

    April 8, 2019 at 2:07 PM

  11. Beautiful, thanks for sharing!

    Sol Maya Trickey

    May 15, 2019 at 11:52 AM


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