Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 36 comments


Ditches often provide a good view of nature thanks to the water that accumulates and keeps the soil moist. The ditch in today’s picture lies on the north side of US 290 east of TX 237 between Carmine and Burton in Washington County. I pulled over at the side of the road there on April 8th to photograph the prominent Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) on the highway embankment. Then I noticed all the spike rushes (Eleocharis sp.) that had colonized the ditch; they’re a kind of sedge.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 18, 2022 at 4:25 PM

36 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Was this Indian paintbrush more of a salmon pink in other pictures? I still like the orange or red sorts, just because that is how I expect them to look.


    April 18, 2022 at 4:32 PM

    • Shades of red-orange are indeed the most common in this species. Paler shades exist, with gradations going even to cream or pale yellow, as for example:

      Cream paintbrush

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 18, 2022 at 4:37 PM

      • Oh, I remember that picture, but not the species. I would have guessed it to be something else.


        April 18, 2022 at 5:26 PM

        • Casilleja indivisa is by far the dominant paintbrush species here.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 18, 2022 at 6:37 PM

          • What I meant was that I did not remember that the picture was of that species. I remember that the species is the common one there, although I am not familiar with it.


            April 18, 2022 at 8:01 PM

          • When I finally get around to growing an Indian paintbrush, it will likely be one that is native here, rather than one from there, or more specifically, from Latimer County in Oklahoma. Well, I know that is not exactly ‘there’. Castilleja indivisa lives both there and in Latimer County, and is likely the species that I heard about when I was a kid. Regardless, that is irrelevant if I grow a native species. Of course, I could grow both.


            April 18, 2022 at 8:06 PM

          • Oh goodness! I went and did it. All that was too much talk and not enough action. I found some seed online, but my first purchase was not native, but Castilleja indivisa! Oh my! Should I feel guilty? Well, I do not. Castilleja coccinea is also available. I did not start to look for the natives, . . . yet. You know, if I did not do it now, I would put it off for another year.


            April 18, 2022 at 8:34 PM

  2. Are these ditches also known as swales? On my screen this image gives the impression of a light and fluffy layered cake. The centre strip makes me think of pandan cake. But the pinkish and green layers together are like a Sri Lankan ribbon cake. I think I must be hungry. Time to eat breakfast. 😀


    April 18, 2022 at 5:02 PM

  3. Floral riches in the ditches, a fulfillment of wishes.


    April 19, 2022 at 1:22 AM

    • Sardine boxes without topses
      Sandals were for Clementine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2022 at 6:49 AM

      • I don’t think I’d ever seen or heard the full lyrics before. Wow, what images they conjure up.


        April 19, 2022 at 6:45 PM

        • Yes, imagine sardine boxes as sandals. Here’s more about the song:


          Steve Schwartzman

          April 19, 2022 at 6:54 PM

          • Yes, I saw that too. Not to pick too fine a bone, I can’t resist mentioning that the lyrics that I first found referred to herring boxes, not sardine boxes. But surely that’s all water under the bridge.


            April 20, 2022 at 3:30 AM

            • Maybe I heard herring too a long time ago and misremembered it now as sardine.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 20, 2022 at 5:45 PM

              • And to close the circle, about the riches in the ditches, if wishes were fishes…


                April 21, 2022 at 3:03 AM

                • And if wishes were knishes even vegans could eat their fill.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 21, 2022 at 4:27 AM

                • I’ll also add that I prefer watching the riches in the ditches to the Thrilla in Manila.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 21, 2022 at 4:59 AM

                • A last tangent: I was playing word games with the grandkids a while back and came up with this:

                  Three rich witches
                  Wished three rich wishes.
                  Which rich witch
                  Wished the richest wish?

                  Try saying it three times.


                  April 21, 2022 at 5:04 AM

                • Kudos to you for that excellent tongue-twister. It’s worth going off on a tangent for.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 21, 2022 at 5:26 AM

  4. It looks truly amazing!


    April 19, 2022 at 8:02 AM

  5. It takes on the look of a river or canal of green. Reminds me slightly of the fantastical views within Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

    Todd Henson

    April 19, 2022 at 9:05 AM

    • I haven’t seen that movie but here I offered up something that sounds similar: Steve Schwartzman’s cheerful fantasy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2022 at 9:11 AM

  6. I’ve had some luck in ditches. Near the house, well a mile or so, is a ditch that gets filled with bloodroot and just below those are trout lilies. But the rosa multiflora one has to fight through make it a less desirable spot and I have had the scratches to prove it. However, those numbers are a drop in the bucket compared to this ditch.

    Steve Gingold

    April 19, 2022 at 6:41 PM

    • Sorry about the thorny glitches you’ve encountered in those ditches. In this one I didn’t notice anything insidious, but we sure have plenty of things in Texas that want to get into a person’s skin.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 19, 2022 at 7:01 PM

  7. Oh my that’s a lot of Indian paintbrushes. The photo came out really well, the ditch breaks the monotony of the flower carpet. So pretty.

    Alessandra Chaves

    April 19, 2022 at 10:31 PM

    • I saw even broader stands of paintbrushes on that trip. As you pointed out, there’s value in avoiding monotony. One standard way of doing so is depicting swathes where wildflower colonies of different colors have mingled. That’s what I’ve often done. This picture was a different and as far as I recall a new way, and the strong diagonal elements are a plus. In the much larger original you can see the individual spike rushes more clearly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 20, 2022 at 6:36 AM

  8. Great sight that soothes the eyes


    April 19, 2022 at 10:38 PM

  9. I drove that exact stretch of road on Sunday, April 10, and never thought of pausing. There were so many people photographing one another along the embankments it would have required parallel parking to gain a spot. I’ve never seen so many people among the flowers; I made a mental note to try to avoid the most publicized/popular/convenient routes on Sunday afternoons.

    The moist strips that run through otherwise dry territory are interesting. There’s a place on the Nash Prairie where water collects, and some of the same flowers grow along that meander that I find in the east Texas woods.


    April 20, 2022 at 7:36 AM

    • As you see from the date, we were there during the week, when I saw no one taking pictures anywhere along US 290. Based on your description of what you found on Palm Sunday, I understand why you didn’t stop then, and why you resolved to avoid main routes on Sundays. I’m glad you’ve found quieter places like the one on the Nash Prairie, especially since the moist strip there hosts plants from the east Texas woods.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 20, 2022 at 10:10 PM

  10. […] A recent post played up the advantage that plants in ditches get from the moisture the soil retains there. That’s how it was in a ditch on Main St. in the rural community of Thorndale on April 10th. The seed columns of anemones (Anemone berlandieri) vary a lot in length, with the one shown here coming from the long end of the range. Spiderworts (Tradescantia sp.) graciously provided the purple in the background. The second portrait shows the ditch-happy spiderworts in their own right. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: