Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ground zero

with 17 comments


W. Pflugerville Parkway at N. Heatherwilde Boulevard in Pflugerville proved to be ground zero this spring for prairie wildflowers, which abounded on all four quadrants of the increasingly busy intersection. Thankfully it wasn’t the wildflowers’ last stand—at least not yet, but all the land around that intersection is highly likely to get developed in the next few years. Consider that when I moved to Austin in 1976, Pflugerville claimed about 700 residents; by the turn of the millennium some 16,000 people lived there, and the current population estimate is 69,000.

While the southeast corner of the intersection already has a convenience store on it (and a convenient place to park it is), the land adjacent to the store is still land; you’ve already seen how densely flowerful it looked on April 29th. The northwest quadrant of the intersection is home to a church, but at least the people in charge have so far let the property around the church go to wildflowers; let’s hope that enlightenment continues. The southwest quadrant of the intersection has also been home to many wildflowers this spring.

By the time of my May 17th visit I’d already taken many photographs in those three quadrants on several earlier stops. This time I finally walked over to the northeast quadrant, which already sports a sign saying a zoning variance has been requested for that property: development can’t be far away. When I got close I happily found that horsemints (Monarda citriodora) were coming into their own on the site; they’re the little towers of flowers. Blooming among and around the horsemints were firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) and prairie parsley (Polytaenia nuttallii). In addition, some healthy Maximilian sunflower plants (Helianthus maximiliani) bode well for the fall, providing the land hasn’t gotten razed by then.



© 2023 Steven Schwartzman






Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2023 at 4:55 AM

17 Responses

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  1. I wish people valued wildflowers and wild land as much as they did commercial development. 😦

    Eliza Waters

    May 25, 2023 at 7:06 AM

  2. The horsemints have perplexed me this year. Last Sunday, I didn’t find a single one on the west end of Galveston Island, where they’ve been dependably present. Perhaps I was early. On the other hand, along a stretch of Hwy 90, between Liberty and Devers, the highway department clearly has done their thing, and the last time I passed that way they were in bloom, and thick. For once, it seems that decent weather and a holiday weekend are going to coincide, so perhaps I’ll be able to find some.


    May 25, 2023 at 8:02 AM

    • I just did a Google search for the exact phrase “horsemint perplexity” and got the same number of hits as you found horsemints on the west end of Galveston Island.

      Not recognizing Liberty or Devers, I checked a map and found they’re on the part of US 90 east of Houston. I take it you passed through there as part of one of your trips to the Watson Preserve. Over here, in the eight days since this post’s picture, horsemints have remained prominent in various places. In fact I photographed some this morning in the Capital of Texas Highway median. May you find their equal.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2023 at 2:06 PM

  3. The firewheels give some needed contrast to this composition. I wish we had them growing here naturally.

    Alessandra Chaves

    May 25, 2023 at 9:59 AM

    • Yes, the two species complement each other in color and shape. That’s one more incentive to visit Texas at this time of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 25, 2023 at 2:13 PM

  4. So beautiful! Thank you for capturing it in its natural state.

    Birder's Journey

    May 25, 2023 at 2:09 PM

  5. Wow, I’m sure those early Pfluger plowboys would be astonished to see the place now. I do hope something around there is set aside as parkland.

    Robert Parker

    May 26, 2023 at 1:13 PM

    • It’s clear you know that a Pflug is a plow, and therefore a Pfluger a plower. The settlers of Pflugerville couldn’t have imagined a modern town of 69,000 people there. Most people’s idea of a park is a place for athletic fields and kiddie play equipment, and everything else covered with lawns mowed to within an inch of the ground. Unfortunately almost no one wants to spend money preserving our native prairies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 26, 2023 at 4:56 PM

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