Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Urban expresswayside wildflowers

with 24 comments

Click to enlarge.

On March 29th, while driving to see a visiting classmate from graduate school decades ago, I came to the intersection of US 183 and N. Lamar Blvd. To my right, on an island of ground in the midst of a whole lot of pavement, I noticed some tall gaura plants flowering alongside a bunch of bluebonnets. I assume the highway people sowed seeds there but I don’t actually know. The next morning I went back with my camera equipment to see what I could do. The sun had climbed a little above the elevated expressway but clouds kept moving across the sun, so the wildflowers mostly remained lit with indirect light. That led to the pleasant portrait you see here of two interlocked gaura stalks.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 3, 2019 at 4:34 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Two years in a row, I came across this only at the end of its season, and couldn’t identify it. Finally, I got a look at the flowers, but it still took a while to learn its identity. I think it’s so pretty, and this is an especially charming portrait. Perhaps we could call them BFFs — best floral friends.

    It’s been fun to compare your sightings with mine this year. I found a few plants south of Gonzales on March 22, still mostly in bud, but with a few flowers beginning to open.


    April 3, 2019 at 7:07 AM

    • We followed your lead yesterday with a jaunt down to Gonzales, where we hadn’t been for years. Then we moseyed over to Cost, which you’d mentioned; there we found a good stand of mixed wildflowers behind the monument to the first shot of the Texas Revolution:


      Botanically speaking, the gaura species were traditionally in their own genus, Gaura, but recent genetic research has prompted botanists to cancel that genus and move all its species into Oenothera, the same as the evening primroses. That change aside, I’m still usually unsure which species of gaura I’m looking at. Fortunately that uncertainty doesn’t carry over to finding ways to portray the plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2019 at 7:29 AM

  2. Gaura is a plant I can’t grow, as is the bluebonnet. What kind of Texan am I? Beautiful capture!


    April 3, 2019 at 3:43 PM

    • Fortunately gaura seems to have no trouble growing itself. Perhaps you could find a healthy one on an undeveloped lot or right-of-way, dig it up with a good root ball, and transplant it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 3, 2019 at 4:09 PM

  3. Is that ever pretty!


    April 3, 2019 at 8:27 PM

  4. A very pretty portrait, indeed.


    April 4, 2019 at 4:58 AM

  5. […] the gaura that grew tall and slender at the southwest corner of US 183 and N. Lamar Blvd. on March 30 was the greenthread (Thelesperma […]

  6. Oh, of course. They naturalize here too, but not intentionally. they just escape from home gardens. They sort of look like the garden varieties, and their ‘improved’ color takes a few generations to fade. Those with richer color fade sooner. If I remember correctly, they do not spread far from supplemental irrigation, even just a little of summer irrigation. They may live in riparian places like the Salinas River and Carmel River. I really don’t know.


    April 7, 2019 at 1:50 PM

    • As far as I know, all the gauras that we see growing wild around Austin are native species. In people’s gardens and commercial landscaping I’ve seen types of gaura that look different and that I don’t recognize because they’re alien here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 7, 2019 at 2:24 PM

      • Oh, of course. I do not think of Gaura as a native there. It could be Gaura longiflora, but I do not know what that looks like. Garden varieties are likely just cultivars of the Gaura lindinheimeri. They tend to revert to their natural state after a few generations of naturalizing. I suppose that is native in the region too, but again, I really do not know.


        April 8, 2019 at 9:01 AM

  7. Such a pretty flower .. I’m sure I have it in white in my garden


    April 9, 2019 at 2:30 PM

    • Chances are, given the many gaura species that exist. I’m fond of these flowers because they look so helter-skelter, with parts going every which way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 9, 2019 at 3:25 PM

  8. […] a bare stalk as much as two-and-a-half feet long. Add this wildflower to the svelte greenthread and gaura you saw here […]

  9. This is a very pleasing image indeed. I love Gaura and have had it in my garden but it doesn’t persist. Can you tell me how you get the image to enlarge like that? I think I knew at one time but have forgotten.


    April 20, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    • The pictures that I upload in my blog are about half a megapixel in size. This gaura photo is 600 x 853 pixels. When I edited the post, after importing the photo, I clicked on it to select it, then clicked on the little pencil icon, which let me make adjustments to the photo. I downscaled the picture to 400 x 575 pixels (the original proportion is always maintained). When you visit the blog and look at this post, you see the picture at its smaller size. When you click on the picture, you see the original larger size.

      What I’ve said corresponds to what I see and do using my theme and the old-fashioned editor. With your theme and the new editor, the controls may be rather different.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 20, 2019 at 2:18 PM

      • Ok I’ll have a look and see if that won’t work. I’m thinking I am not stuck with the new editor, I just didn’t know how to switch mid-post.


        April 21, 2019 at 8:34 AM

        • Let me know if you’re indeed able to switch back to the old editor. I think I mentioned I didn’t try the new one because I was afraid I wouldn’t be allowed to switch back if I wanted to.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 21, 2019 at 9:17 AM

          • Yes. When I started a new post, I looked over at the 3 dots and clicked on it. At the bottom was the option to switch back to classic editor, and I clicked on it. Hooray!


            April 21, 2019 at 10:47 AM

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