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Late takes on Clematis drummondii

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I didn’t expect to be photographing one of my favorite subjects so late in the year: Clematis drummondii, a vine known endearingly as old man’s beard. The last times I’d taken pictures of any were late July and early August. In the first week of December I noticed a fluffy colony on the west-side embankment of US 183 just south of Braker Lane, a corner I often drive past as I leave my neighborhood. After telling myself several times that I should check out the Clematis, I finally did on December 10th. The first picture gives you an overview of the colony. You’ll be forgiven if a first glance made you think you were seeing a black and white photograph.

The backlighting that made the colony stand out in the first photograph also served me in the second, a macro view in which you’re seeing a span of maybe 2 inches. In the third picture I took a softer and less contrasty approach. Don’t you love the chaos in the two close views?

And speaking of chaos, did you know that it gave rise to the new word gas? Here’s the explanation in The Online Etymology Dictionary:

1650s, from Dutch gas, probably from Greek khaos “empty space”… The sound of Dutch “g” is roughly equivalent to that of Greek “kh.” First used by Flemish chemist J.B. van Helmont (1577-1644), probably influenced by Paracelsus, who used khaos in an occult sense of “proper elements of spirits” or “ultra-rarified water,” which was van Helmont’s definition of gas.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 24, 2020 at 4:44 AM

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Limited-focus abstract views of Clematis drummondii strands

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On August 22nd I went to Great Hills Park and spent quite a while among a group of Clematis drummondii plants that had produced their characteristic strands. Because of rain the day before, some of the strands had stuck together, especially at their tips. In both of today’s pictures limited focus led to abstract portraits that are pretty different from the many other pictures of this species that have appeared here over the years.

Instead of a quotation or a fact, how about a question? Okay, that was already a question, but not the one I had in mind. Here it is: which independent country has the lowest population density? (I included the word independent because Greenland, which is the least densely populated geographic entity, is a territory of Denmark.) You’ll find the answer at the end of the next post.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 20, 2020 at 3:50 AM

Clematis drummondii after the rain

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On August 3rd we finally had some rain, so on the morning of the 4th I went down to Great Hills Park with my macro lens and a ring flash to see if I could get some good pictures of raindrop-covered plants. In particular I had in mind Clematis drummondii, which I don’t recall ever before photographing with drops on it. This vine’s fibers often have a metallic-looking sheen to them, which the flash enhanced. Below, an enlargement from a different picture gives you a good look at raindrops on metalically shining Clematis strands.

And speaking of metals, here’s a relevant quotation for today: “I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Life Without Principle,” 1863.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2020 at 4:39 AM

Another take on Clematis drummondii swirls

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Offering you one view per season wouldn’t do justice to the silky and feathery fibers of Clematis drummondii, so here’s another. In today’s take I used flash so I could stop down (in this case to f/16) to keep more of the luxuriant strands in focus than in the softer approach you saw last month. These intricate swirls are a good way to fill a frame, don’t you think? I made this “more is more” portrait along Rain Creek Parkway on July 11th.

A thought for today: ” Destiny is seldom recognized until it has changed its name to history.”
— Donald Culross Peattie in Green Laurels.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 3, 2020 at 4:38 AM

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Clematis drummondii flower viewed edge-on

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I made this portrait on June 25th in Great Hills Park.
You saw a later stage in this vine’s development a week ago.

Related quotation for today: “There is that in the glance of a flower
which may at times control the greatest of creation’s braggart lords.”
— John Muir in A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf, 1916.

News flash (July 22, 2020): Sierra Club denounces founder John Muir; statues of him to be removed.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 24, 2020 at 4:43 AM

A pastel take on Clematis drummondii

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Of the three native species of Clematis in Austin, by far the most common is Clematis drummondii, which also happens to put on the best fibrous display of the lot when its fertilized female flowers mature. Here from July 10th along Rain Creek Parkway is a pastel take on those partly silky and partly feathery fibers.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 17, 2020 at 4:35 AM

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Clematis drummondii: a familiar take and a new one

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On August 17th I stopped along S. 10th St. in Pflugerville to photograph an embankment covered with Clematis drummondii that had gone into the fluffy phase that earned this vine the colloquial name “old man’s beard.” After walking almost back to my car I spotted one clump of strands drooping in a way I’d rarely seen. Naturally I got close to photograph it, and then I noticed the dead ant that’s near the bottom of the picture, along with a few other tiny dead insects inside the clump. My first thought was of a spider but I saw no evidence of one. Those insect deaths remain a mystery.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 27, 2018 at 4:57 AM

A formidable mound of Clematis drummondii

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Clematis drummondii Mound 1337

Look at this mound, almost a wall, of Clematis drummondii adorning a piece of the Blackland Prairie in Pflugerville on July 16th. I happened to visit the property again last week and can report that the great pile of fluff is still there, though understandably looking duller and dingier after almost two months of weathering in the Texas summer.

The common name for this plant, by the way, is old man’s beard. For a closer look at some swirls of fresh strands (along with a few flowers), click the icon below; your eyes will be well rewarded.

Clematis drummondii Mound 1390 Detail

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 8, 2015 at 3:33 AM

A Clematis drummondii flower as it opens

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Clematis drummondii Flower Opening 0684

Here’s a slightly later stage in the opening of a Clematis drummondii flower that I photographed along Great Northern Blvd. in north-central Austin on December 3. This view also lets you see that the leaflets in the vine’s compound leaves are shaped somewhat like dinosaur footprints.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Clematis drummondii and Viguiera dentata

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Clematis drummondii Fluff by Viguiera dentata Flowers 7803

While photographing some Ageratina havanensis flowers on the west side of Mopac on November 5th, I also managed to get my latest fix of Clematis drummondii in the fluffy stage that has caused the plant to be called old man’s beard. The yellow in the background was from some flowers of goldeneye, Viguiera dentata.

The length of this photograph represents only a couple of inches, but these feathery white strands strike me as a good complement to the much taller pink plumes of the gulf muhly grass that you saw twice yesterday.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2013 at 6:02 AM

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