Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Zilker Nature Preserve

with 12 comments

In the Zilker Nature Preserve on January 13th I spotted the pod of a milkweed vine releasing its seeds. While no leaves remained to suggest what species it was, the most common vine in that family here is pearl milkweed, Matelea reticulata, so that’ll have to do as a tentative identification. Regardless of species, milkweed pods produce a chaos of silk and seeds that a nature photographer who prizes abstraction welcomes. Later we re-crossed the dry bed of Eanes Creek. The picture below shows the lower strata in a hundred-foot tall cliff carved over aeons by rushing water.



❇︎          ❇︎          ❇︎



True virtue is life under the direction of reason.

[M]en who are governed by reason—who seek what is useful to them in accordance with reason—desire for themselves nothing that they do not also desire for the rest of humanity, and consequently are just, faithful, and honorable in their conduct.

The most tyrannical governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts.

Freedom is absolutely necessary for progress in science and the liberal arts.

Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677); Ethics, 1677.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman






Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 24, 2022 at 4:33 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Lovely photos


    January 24, 2022 at 5:01 AM

  2. Is Zilker Nature Preserve the same as Zilker Park? It looks like the Preserve might be part of the park. In any event, it looks like a wonderful spot. Your milkweed fluff reminds me that I found some dandelions already gone to seed yesterday, and a few in bloom being visited by butterflies. Spring is lurking, and I’m beginning to sense that it’s closer than we think.

    I like the contrast between the layered and tumbled rock in the second photo. The vegetative tangle is just thick enough to give a sense of the place as wild, without obscuring the rocks.


    January 24, 2022 at 8:48 AM

    • Zilker Park is a popular place in downtown Austin along Lady Bird Lake, which is a dammed part of the Colorado River. Zilker Park, the site of many activities, is not a nature park. Adjacent to Zilker Park on the northwest is Zilker Botanical Gardens, which is more in keeping with nature, though non-native plants have been and still are cultivated there along with some native ones. One step further to the northwest, on the opposite side of the expressway called Mopac, are the Austin Nature Center and the Zilker Nature Preserve.

      We’ve come across a few dandelions in their fluffy stage here too. Does any place in the world not have them? In a normal year here a few native wildflowers, e.g. anemones, often begin showing up at the end of January and beginning of February, so your intimation of spring has a historical precedent.

      You make a good point in contrasting the tumbled rocks in the creek bed with the adjacent strata. The cliff typifies many that are found along creeks on the hilly west side of town, including Great Hills Park.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 24, 2022 at 10:10 AM

  3. Great post as usual. Spinoza also had problems with the woke crowd of his day, leading to his ban with these words “Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up. Cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in. The Lord will not spare him, but the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.”
    Jack Durston

    john durston

    January 24, 2022 at 12:25 PM

    • That’s some imprecation. I didn’t know about it, but I do know about other predecessors of woke cancellation, for example the Inquisition.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 24, 2022 at 12:37 PM

  4. I am very fond of photographing milkweed seed pods myself. I only see them here in the fall, by the winter they are already past their photography prime.

    Alessandra Chaves

    January 24, 2022 at 10:57 PM

    • A milkweed pod releasing seeds in mid-January surprised me here too. I think I’d seen only one other doing that in the winter.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2022 at 6:30 AM

  5. I love the shimmering silk, and can easily imagine the associated softness.


    January 28, 2022 at 8:20 PM

    • You’re right: the silk is so soft to the touch. What little breeze there was soon carried most of the seed-bearing silk away.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2022 at 8:30 PM

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