Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

I hardly expected a basket-flower on August 1st

with 31 comments

On August 1st, after taking a bunch of nature pictures at a large construction site in southern Round Rock, I was almost back to my car when I noticed something unusual for a date so far into the summer: a fresh basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus), the only one of its kind. It was almost touching one of those low black fences that mark the boundaries of work sites, so I lay on the ground and contorted myself to take pictures in ways that excluded both the dark fence on one side and a nearby sign on the other. Below is a more detailed view that I made by standing back up, leaning over, and aiming down at the flower head.

Here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” — Maurice Switzer in Mrs. Goose, Her Book, 1906.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 13, 2020 at 4:44 AM

31 Responses

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  1. The cloud appears to be enjoying the basketflower as well.

    Steve Gingold

    August 13, 2020 at 5:23 AM

    • And I the cloud. In fact the clouds were pretty good that day and I used them as backgrounds in a bunch of the pictures I took.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2020 at 6:49 AM

  2. I really like how in the second photo you can see the structure of the flower, the texture and gradations of color.

    melissabluefineart

    August 13, 2020 at 7:13 AM

    • Basket-flowers lend themselves to closeups, for the reason you gave. Yesterday I was busy photographing seed head remains of this species, which also make for good subjects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2020 at 7:27 AM

      • I’ve been hitting the prairies again, after a hiatus. It is good to be back but I’ve overdone it and am resting today. Covered in spider and chigger bites, chest tight from whatever. We don’t have anything like your cool Basket flowers, though.

        melissabluefineart

        August 14, 2020 at 10:19 AM

        • It’s good to hear you’ve revisited the prairie, but not good that you got bitten by spiders and chiggers. For whatever reason—and I’m certainly not complaining—I’ve gotten very few chigger bites this year in spite of going out into the same places as always.

          I just checked the USDA map and found that one county in Wisconsin is marked for the basket-flower: Waukesha County, which isn’t all that far north of you. Maybe next June you’ll get to see a basket-flower there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 14, 2020 at 3:04 PM

          • Now that is interesting. As my son is in the process of buying a house in northern Wisconsin, I’ve been turning it over in my mind to move to Wisconsin myself. Now I have an added incentive.

            melissabluefineart

            August 15, 2020 at 8:31 AM

            • You’re a lot closer to Waukesha County (which is on a line with Milwaukee) now than you would be in northern Wisconsin. But weren’t you trying to move to North Carolina (which has much milder winters than northern Wisconsin)?

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 15, 2020 at 9:08 AM

              • We were. I sent said son and husband out there with a list of houses to look at, one in particular. It was a close thing~they nearly bought the one I really wanted. However they found that the area has grown too quickly for comfort. They found crowded roads, impatient drivers, beautiful vistas marred by rampant new construction. And the quiet street our favorite house is on is scheduled to become a highway. And THEN, the realtor casually cautioned my son to watch for copperheads when he went out to explore one of the yards. I’ve lived too casually for too long to suddenly have to remember to be on guard against poisonous snakes! Now that he’s gone and bought himself a house in Wisconsin, we’re reconsidering everything.

                melissabluefineart

                August 16, 2020 at 8:34 AM

                • That was a quick and unexpected change.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 16, 2020 at 8:51 AM

                • It was indeed. I still feel the whiplash…

                  melissabluefineart

                  August 17, 2020 at 7:58 AM

  3. You rose to the occasion. This is an enjoyable set.

    MichaelStephenWills

    August 13, 2020 at 7:43 AM

    • Well said, regarding the second picture. It was a good last-minute find, and had I walked a few yards away I might well have missed it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2020 at 7:56 AM

  4. Lying on the ground to get that special kind of perspective for a shot is an unusual sight and a head-scratcher for many people. But no matter what they think the results are often rewarding as is plain to see in your outstanding photo today, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    August 13, 2020 at 7:44 AM

    • Short of plucking the flower, which I didn’t want to do, there was no way to get a picture like the first one without lying on the ground. I carry a rubber mat around with me to make that easier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2020 at 7:59 AM

  5. I like how there is movement in the lower petals and the cloud above echoes its shape.

    Eliza Waters

    August 13, 2020 at 1:28 PM

    • I worked hard to include that cloud, which kept moving as I took my pictures looking up from the ground. I really wanted the “echo” that you pointed out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2020 at 1:35 PM

  6. You’ve looked at clouds from more sides now,
    From high and low, and still, somehow,
    They’re in the background, just to please;
    Perhaps it’s time to highlight these.

    krikitarts

    August 13, 2020 at 4:22 PM

  7. It’s a late bloomer. Like both photos; the solid blue sky against the feathery basket flower appeals on one level, the close-up appeals to my love of structural items.

    Tina

    August 13, 2020 at 5:25 PM

    • A late bloomer, indeed; elsewhere I’ve been photographing dried-out basket-flower seed heads. For people who like structure, this species provides plenty, not only as shown here in the florets, but also in the “basket” below.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 13, 2020 at 5:40 PM

  8. It’s remarkably fresh and lovely for so late in the year. I just noticed a patch of seed heads yesterday in a spot where I’d missed seeing the flowers; it was quite a surprise.

    I’m anxious to see your photos of the seed heads, since I find them as visually interesting as the flowers: maybe even more interesting. At this point, I resemble the seed head more than the flower; the heat’s been a killer at work, and I’ve been so lethargic I’ve not gone beyond drinking iced tea and staring at the computer screen when I get home.

    shoreacres

    August 14, 2020 at 4:58 AM

    • You’re funny in saying you resemble the seed head more than the flower. I could join you in saying so. In spite of the heat I’ve been out taking nature pictures on 10 of the first 13 days of August. Naturally I always go out in the morning, when the temperature is in the low 80s, and return after two or three hours when the temperature has climbed into the 90s. The afternoon high here the other day hit 106°.

      I don’t know if I’ll be showing any basket-flower seed heads this season. The pictures of them that I’ve taken so far are similar to those of past years, and I’m so backed up with recent photographs of a zillion other things that I’ve fallen way behind and can’t possible show everything that’s showable.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 14, 2020 at 7:46 AM

  9. This is a beautiful late season bloom! I need to practice silence more. 😀

    circadianreflections

    August 14, 2020 at 5:32 AM

  10. The pose of the flower and the cloud companion both imply a slight breeze. Cool flower and photos!

    denisebushphoto

    August 18, 2020 at 12:27 PM

    • The clouds were moving at a good clip, and that movement complicated my work in the first picture. Basket-flowers are among the showiest we have in central Texas, and I never get tired of photographing them. To find one well past the usual season was a gift.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 18, 2020 at 3:54 PM

  11. Super shots Steve … lovely bloom 🙂

    Julie@frogpondfarm

    August 21, 2020 at 3:11 PM


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