Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘flowers

Despite the snow and sleet

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Despite the snow and sleet that came down from the morning into the afternoon on January 10th, this is still Austin, and the very next day I noticed that a goldeneye bush (Viguiera dentata) in my neighborhood was putting out new flowers. As is true for various composite flower heads, the opening was asymmetric. In case you’re wondering, the background brown came from leaves on the ground that remained conveniently featureless at my macro lens’s widest aperture, f/2.8. And if you’re also wondering whether I’m already done showing snow and ice pictures, I’m not.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 12, 2021 at 4:32 PM

Wildflowers at the end of the year

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On December 29th I went over to the strip of land between Arboretum Drive and the Capital of Texas Highway to photograph some Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera) that I figured would be there. And they were there. The sky was heavily overcast and the breeze didn’t stop blowing, but you do what you can with what you get. I set a shutter speed of 1/640 to contend with the wind, which actually blew some of the ray flowers into uncharacteristic positions that allowed for novel portraits. Because the light was low I used flash; that sometimes left the clouds looking unnaturally dark, which created the extra drama you see above. As time passed the sky remained overcast but turned lighter shades of gray, as shown in the picture below of a different Mexican hat flower head about half an hour after the first one.

Adjacent to the Mexican hats, most of the goldeneye bushes (Viguiera dentata)
had gone to seed but a few were also still pushing out new flowers:

And so this fatal year has reached its final day.
Are better times to come? It’s “yes” we hope to say.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 31, 2020 at 4:36 AM

There’s no month of the year when Austin doesn’t have wildflowers

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Yup, the title’s true. Here’s a December 15th portrait of an aster (Symphyotrichum sp.) in Great Hills Park as an example. Because the aster was growing in forested shade I had to use flash, and because the light from a flash drops off quickly, I aimed sideways so that distracting things in the distance obligingly went black.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 19, 2020 at 4:35 AM

An octagon in the eleventh month that proclaims itself the ninth

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Hot on the heels of the out-of-season Indian paintbrush you saw last time, here’s another prodigy. It’s the Engelmann daisy, Engelmannia peristenia, a spring wildflower that normally has done its thing no later than July, but that I photographed in northeast Austin on November 13th. Engelmann daisies typically have eight ray flowers, as in this picture, and there’s a tendency for them to curl under, as you also see here.

If you’re wondering why September, October, November, and December, whose names indicate that they’re the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth month, are actually the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth month, it’s because the Roman calendar originally began in March. January and February got added later, bumping the already-named months two places further down the line. And here’s another related tidbit: before July and August got appropriated for Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, those months had been called Quintilis and Sextilis, whose names proclaimed them the fifth and sixth month in the original calendar.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Red of a sort that shouldn’t be here now

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The warm autumn in Austin this year led to the blooming of some plants that normally wait till spring. Among those were three Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) that we found in the wetland pond section of Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle on November 12th. Below is a view looking straight down.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 30, 2020 at 4:35 AM

Thankfully some Maximilian sunflowers are still flowering

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“Linger,” said the warm weather to the Maximilian sunflowers, and they listened. You’re looking at Helianthus maximiliani along Impact Way in Pflugerville on November 20th.

A happy dose of sunshiny yellow to you all.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 26, 2020 at 4:45 AM

Bluebonnet in the fall

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The warm autumn in Austin this year has led to various “spring” wildflowers blooming out of season. So it was for this bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 23rd, which had risen from its basal rosette and was already forming an inflorescence. The behaving-as-expected, which is to say seasonal, flowers in the background were purple fall asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium). Oh well, now I guess I’ll have to break down and show you a picture of them in their own right, too.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2020 at 4:21 AM

Red and yellow for this fellow

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At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on October 23rd, how could I not be drawn to clusters of red possumhaw fruits (Ilex decidua) in front of some Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani)? If you’re in a gloomy place, I hope this combination brightens up your day.

And here’s a relevant quotation for today: “Almost every person, from childhood, has been touched by the untamed beauty of wildflowers.” — Lady Bird Johnson.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 19, 2020 at 4:34 AM

Gayfeather fresh, gayfeather gone to seed

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On October 23rd we visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for the first time in 2020. While some gayfeather (Liatris punctata var. mucronata) was still flowering, as shown above, most had already gone to seed. The yellow flowers mixed in were partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata).

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “Innovation is the child of freedom and the parent of prosperity.” — Matt Ridley in How Innovation Works, 2020.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 18, 2020 at 4:36 AM

Barkley Meadows Park

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On November 6th we made our first visit ever to Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle. A whole lot was going on, botanically speaking, near the western shore of the Berdoll Pond there, as you see in the more-is-more picture above. The myriad small stars throughout are a type of aster, Symphyotrichum subulatum. The fluffy seed heads to the right of center are marsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata. The green saplings are black willow trees, Salix negra. The brown stalks in the back are slenderpod sesbania, Sesbania herbacea, which you saw more fully last time. The tan arcs front and center are the dry leaves of a young cattail, Typha sp. The second picture shows a black willow that had gotten taller.

And below is a closer look at some marsh fleabane gone to seed;
call it a Rembrandtesque botanical version of “Starry Night.”

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2020 at 4:37 AM

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