Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Following up on rain lilies

with 24 comments

For the three days from April 28th through April 30th I photographed first buds and then flowers of the abundant rain lilies (Zephyranthum drummondii) I found in Dominion at Great Hills Park on the far side of my neighborhood. I intended to continue my documentation for a fourth straight day on May 1st, when the flowers would begin to shrivel and turn colors as they approached the end of their short lives. And so I did, but in a different place; the location wouldn’t matter because all the rain lilies in Austin were of the same brood and on average would be in the same stage of development. I went to Schroeter Neighborhood Park, which though a mere two miles from home I’d never heard of till a day earlier, when someone posted pictures showing lots of rain lilies there.

With a different place, a different approach, as today’s two pictures show. In each one I got close enough to a rain lily that everything in the photograph except a portion of the nearest flower would be out of focus, and mostly way out of focus. (I think the yellow-orange flower heads were greenthread, Thelesperma filifolium.)


❖         ❖         ❖



“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
— George Orwell.

That line was in the preface that Orwell wrote for Animal Farm, but when he finally found a willing publisher for his allegory and it appeared in 1945, the preface wasn’t included. An article in The Quote Investigator tells how the preface then got lost and wasn’t rediscovered until 1971. You can read the preface if you’d like to.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 4, 2022 at 3:20 AM

24 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. so whimsical and pretty


    May 4, 2022 at 3:34 AM

  2. Beautiful lilies with a nice pink accent. I love the blurred background, it gives depth to your pictures.


    May 4, 2022 at 3:43 AM

  3. Beautiful, Steve. I’d never seen rain lilies until I moved to Austin. They quickly became ones I watched out for whenever we had rain. They’d pop up like magic in my lawn.


    Jenny Meadows/My Copy Editor, New Zealand/USA

    Jenny Meadows

    May 4, 2022 at 3:56 AM

    • Popping up like magic, yes, that’s a good description of rain lilies. You’re one of the very few people in New Zealand who’s heard of rain lilies, much less seen them in person. They had a good spell last week, and welcome after a weeks-delayed start to floral spring here this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2022 at 7:44 AM

  4. Two very nice impressions of rain lilies.

    Steve Gingold

    May 4, 2022 at 4:15 AM

  5. Lucky you! The small groups of flowers I found didn’t approach the size of these, and the flowers that were present didn’t seem so synchronized. The color in the background of the second photo seems to be dissolving and rising into the air; perhaps that’s the scent of the flowers, captured in a photo for the first time.


    May 4, 2022 at 6:55 AM

    • The synchronization came in large part from my testing out many spots on the ground to find ones with promising alignments. Of the many pictures I took over two to three hours, most came out so-so. A small number grabbed me and held up to scrutiny. In the second picture shown here, the diagonals across the top struck me as rays of light coming down. You’re welcome to transmute the effect into floral scent going up

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2022 at 7:40 AM

  6. I love discovering new nearby parks/destinations I had no idea existed. I’m glad you found one so close to home.


    May 4, 2022 at 6:47 PM

    • I’m all for discoveries. In the past year and a half we’ve been driving around Austin and its suburbs, and we’ve kept finding nature places we’d been unaware of. What’s strange about this latest one is how close to home it is; in 10 days we’ll have lived in this house for 18 years, and I’d have thought we knew all the close places. Obviously not.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 4, 2022 at 7:54 PM

      • It’s like finding a treasure in the pocket of your coat you have been carrying with you all these years. One day it will finally fall into your fingers, even though it evaded them for a long time.


        May 4, 2022 at 11:06 PM

        • Your analogy leaves open the hope of finding still more treasured pieces of nature in our vicinity.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 5, 2022 at 7:43 AM

  7. Between you and Linda, it’s been nice to get extra doses of these beauties.
    Even though we have many exotic species here on the equator, I miss many of those spring species.
    About six weeks ago, half way through the rainy season, a ‘splash’ of white swamp lilies were in bloom near a highway. I asked my friend to stop, and I hopped out to confirm — they appeared to be just like the ones in Louisiana!

    • You sent me scurrying to the Internet to see what a swamp lily looks like. I take it you’re referring to Crinum americanum: https://pondinformer.com/swamp-lily-crinum-americanum
      According to Wikipedia, plants in the genus Crinum “are found in seasonally moist areas, including marshes, swamps, depressions and along the sides of streams and lakes in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide.” What you found along the highway seems to confirm that. I checked the USDA map and found that Crinum americanum grows in the part of Texas over near Houston and Beaumont, so maybe eventually I’ll see some.

      I thought about you a day or two ago when I heard a television news report that Ecuador has declared an emergency in three provinces because of rising crime:


      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2022 at 7:57 AM

      • |Yes, that’s the ‘Swamp Lily’ which is stunning for a short time, and then quite ragged – true to its preferred lifestyle! The ditch urchins! I recall their subtle fragrance, always nice.

        Yes, when that emergency alert was issued, the local grapevines buzzzed with ‘we’re about to be under another curfew, but then realized our areas and many others would not be affected. The police force has been more high profile which is always good. There have been some really ugly prison massacres – all related to the underworld of drugs. all red flags (to me) of the decay of society throughout the world.

        • For over 50 years I’ve favored making all drugs legal so that there’s no incentive for black markets and all the bad things that come with them.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 5, 2022 at 1:30 PM

      • Re|: Swamp Lily – and that it’s in the amaryllis family – thank you for that link!

  8. They’re so soft and delicate looking. I love the soft pastel colors.


    May 5, 2022 at 9:19 AM

  9. […] A post last week showed you how rain lily flowers (Zephyranthes drummondii) were changing from white to pink and purple as they approached the end of their ephemeral lives in Schroeter Neighborhood Park, which I’d just learned about. Plenty of other native plants were coming up there, like the zexmenia (Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida) in the top picture, and the white larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum) below. […]

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: