Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

At what cost Cost?

with 44 comments

All that Cost cost us on April 2nd when we visited the tiny town in Gonzales County some 90 miles south of home was time and gasoline. Behind the First Shot Monument we found a great mix of Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa), Texas dandelions (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus), and Texas stork’s bills (Erodium texanum), as shown in the first photo.

While walking around I noticed two contiguous Texas dandelions, one the usual color and the other a yellow-white combination. I hope you find this touching pair touching.

Also at no extra cost I got the chance to see a few pincushion daisies, Gaillardia suavis, a species that for whatever reason rarely puts in an appearance in Austin even though it ranges from Mexico to Kansas. Each solitary flower head grows at the tip of a bare stalk as much as two-and-a-half feet long. Add this wildflower to the svelte greenthread and gaura you saw here recently.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2019 at 4:46 AM

44 Responses

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  1. worth every penny


    April 10, 2019 at 4:48 AM

  2. When I get sidetracked with beauty like that I forget all about being a penny-pincher.


    April 10, 2019 at 6:40 AM

    • Well said. Today we’re gonna unpinch a few more pennies and see what we can find an hour or so northwest of Austin. The high here today is predicted to be 94°.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 7:18 AM

      • I’m weeding flower beds before the next cold snap hits. Our high will be 90. I envy you enjoying an outing… and I’ll be happy to see the results of spending a few pennies.


        April 10, 2019 at 12:25 PM

        • It did hit 94° as predicted and we ended up driving 178 miles. Yes, we found more wildflowers, some of which will eventually put in an appearance here.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 10, 2019 at 9:26 PM

  3. I do like the two dandelions together; they look like they’re dating. 🙂 That last shot is a stunner, the color combo is really attractive.


    April 10, 2019 at 7:30 AM

    • You must be a romantic to see those two Texas dandelions dating. Well, it is spring.
      I’m with you in liking the color combination in the last picture. The police cars in the county where I grew were blue and orange.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 4:22 PM

  4. Texas dandelions are great, much showier than the ones I’m used to seeing.
    Have you tried eating the petals?

    Robert Parker

    April 10, 2019 at 7:42 AM

    • No, I’ve never tried eating any part of a native Texas dandelion. I know people in many places use the greens of the European dandelion in salads, and I seem to remember having done so myself a long time ago. And yes, our native dandelions are a bit showier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 4:25 PM

  5. A few days earlier, the cost for me of turning south just before Cost was missing the monument and these lovely flowers. No matter how much we see, there’s always more that we miss. I’m glad you didn’t miss these, especially the dandelion pair, and the pincushion daisy. My friend in the hill country calls those ‘perfume balls,’ and I see that’s listed as another common name on several sites.

    Speaking of fragrance, it’s a sign of this season’s abundance that I’ve been able to catch the scent of several plants for the first time: bluebonnets, spider lilies, and huisache. In fact, in some places the huisache was so thick the scent almost was overpowering. I’ll never complain about that.


    April 10, 2019 at 7:44 AM

    • You’ve heard me say many times that I wonder about all the things I must have missed on the road not taken. No one can be everywhere, and some parts of that everywhere must occasionally be better than the parts we visit.

      I’ve seen in books that an alternate name for pincushion daisies is perfume balls. I forgot about that when I was in Cost, or else I would have sniffed the ones there to find out if they really do have a pleasant scent. I’m glad you finally got a whiff of a bluebonnet colony and a flowering huisache tree. I agree that the fragrance can be almost overpowering—but definitely no complaints.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 6:38 PM

  6. Your Texas dandelions are very pretty.


    April 10, 2019 at 7:51 AM

  7. I’ll bet it dances merrily on that slim stalk.


    April 10, 2019 at 9:04 AM

    • It must, though (unlike today) we didn’t have a strong breeze to set it moving.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 6:40 PM

      • Breezy here, too. Howling wind, actually. I find that unnerving.


        April 11, 2019 at 9:59 AM

        • I wasn’t so much unnerved yesterday by the wind that came on suddenly and stayed with us as I was inconvenienced by it. I didn’t pull out my macro lens once, and I took mostly broad views because it’s hard to take closeups of things that are moving around a lot. This morning, locally and with little breeze, I made up for it and took nothing but closeups.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 11, 2019 at 11:20 AM

  8. So many fields of flowers in these posts! All so beautiful, and pleasing to the eye and the soul. Thank you, Steve!

    Lavinia Ross

    April 10, 2019 at 10:33 AM

    • You’re welcome, Lavinia. This has apparently been the best year in a decade for wildflowers an hour and a half south of Austin. The hilly country northwest of Austin has had a non-so-special spring but today we managed to find a few good colonies there as well. Pictures will eventually be forthcoming.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 9:22 PM

  9. Lovely bouquets ….. all the better for being wild as nature intended 🙂


    April 10, 2019 at 10:42 AM

    • Almost all the pictures I show here are of wild plants. Occasionally I go to a preserve where native species have been cultivated, but that’s the exception.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 9:24 PM

  10. Sigh. Just imagine me as a broken record. What a great expanse of floral beauty.

    Steve Gingold

    April 10, 2019 at 3:23 PM

    • Since CDs and then downloads have been around for 35 years now, a large part of the population doesn’t understand the metaphor of a broken record. But we do, and yes, it is another great expanse of floral beauty.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 9:32 PM

  11. That’s a very touching touching pair… we see flowers everywhere!

    Yesterday I photographed a wild coreopsis, because an hour earlier my neighbor told me that one of his two bee-hive colonies had ‘complete collapse’ and the other one has sick bees as well. In addition to inspecting the bird census, I am now searching for honeybees. Today I saw zero.

    2,4-D pesticide is used on the pastures in the area, and this year a new product called, ‘Malban’ was used on the neighbor’s pasture. (The worker left the fundita on the ground.) Now when I look at the flowers, I note the absence of bees and wonder just how many of those flowers are pollinated by bees…

    Sadly the Seedeaters and Ecuadorian Ground Doves have been MIA for months,,, with the report of the bee deaths, I am now extremely concerned… The pastures here have no hojas anchas, but at what cost?

    How often do you see bees in the wildflowers? I hope often.

    • Hey, your first paragraph is splittable into two seven-syllable lines that rhyme and have the same meter. Nice.

      Sorry to hear that colony collapse disorder has come your way, along with fewer birds. That is a high cost indeed, and I understand your concern. Here, fortunately, we still see lots of bees, both the non-native honey bees (Apis mellifera) and many kinds, colors and sizes of native ones. We also have many kinds of flies that mimic bees and thereby gain some protection from predators. In addition, it’s common to see bugs and wasps visiting flowers and inadvertently carrying out pollination.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 9:49 PM

      • “Hey, your first paragraph is splittable into two seven-syllable lines that rhyme and have the same meter. Nice.”

        Thanks, and your reply has lots of equally-nice alliteration!

        Yesterday’s walk produced some great photo ops of butterflies, but zero honey bees. Now that the neighbors and I are comparing notes, there are many ‘small’ absences – we don’t notice until asked, ‘when is the last time you heard the warring choruses from the Chachalacas?’ or “Have you seen any Cocoi Herons lately?’ The mystery continues..

        • Sorry to hear about your losses. You’ve reminded me that when I was growing up on Long Island in the 1950s, fireflies (or lightning bugs, as people often called them) were plentiful. A couple of decades later they were mostly gone, presumably due to air pollution, insecticides, and the like.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 12, 2019 at 2:51 PM

  12. That’s an awfully tall stem for a Gaillardia. Such flowers! I could spend a long time photographing in that paintbrush field…


    April 10, 2019 at 9:57 PM

    • Yes, you might say it stands head [and shoulders if it had any] above any other Gaillardia species I’ve encountered.

      I could spend a long time photographing in some of the paintbrush-filled fields I’ve come across in the last month—in fact I did spend plenty of time in them, as you’ve been seeing. The paintbrushes are beginning to fade now but I still found some good ones today on our 178-mile-roundtrip drive northwest of Austin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2019 at 10:04 PM

  13. Most memorable moments in life have little monetary value.


    April 11, 2019 at 9:44 PM

  14. Those dandelions look like one of the few flowers I noticed near Barstow. I did not stop long enough to see what it was, but I know it was not a dandelion. This is a common form for flowers in that region. Dandlions, daisies, . . . . you know, the composites.


    April 15, 2019 at 1:19 AM

  15. Lovely post … that last flower is a stunner. Mind you so are those dandelions


    April 15, 2019 at 3:15 AM

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