Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘purple

Bluebell time

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Two years ago, during the first months of the pandemic, I brought you a picture of probably the densest and most expansive colony of bluebells (Eustoma sp.) I’ve ever seen. It sprawled across a field on the south side of San Gabriel Blvd. in Leander, a rapidly growing suburb north of Austin. Unfortunately that rapid growth meant the field soon became a construction site and the great bluebell colony was destroyed before another spring came around. This year a post in the Texas Flora group announced that some bluebells had come up on the north side of San Gabriel Blvd, presumably the progeny of plants from the now-gone colony. On June 14th I went up there and, sure enough, I found some bluebells flowering, mostly in a ditch.

For the portrait above, I lay on the ground and aimed toward a patch of bright sky. (If I remember correctly, this is the first picture with a white background I’ve posted since a winecup in December 2021, and that was the first since a rain lily in March 2020.) The portrait below shows some bluebell buds beginning to open.


As I was finishing up my photography in Leander, I noticed a crew of mowers getting closer and closer to the wildflower-filled ditch. When a guy with a weed-whacker approached the far end of the ditch, I went over and talked to him in Spanish, asking him not to cut down the beautiful wildflowers. He asked me if I was the encargado—the person in charge—of the property. I said no, but as a citizen it was important to me to preserve the wildflowers. He pointed to a guy on a tractor who he said was the head of the ground crew, so I walked over and talked to him. He turned out to speak good English. He said the crew mowed on a schedule, and he didn’t seem at all concerned about cutting down the flowers. I asked who at his company I could talk to. He pointed to the company truck, which had a phone number on it. I walked close enough to the truck to read the phone number, called it, and got a message saying that number was out of service. It didn’t seem there was any more I could do, so I drove home.

Two days later I went back to see what had happened. To my pleasant surprise, I found that the guys in the crew had mowed a narrow strip along the top edges of the ditch but had left everything lower down alone. It seems my plea had done some good after all. Below, strictly for documentary purposes, is how a portion of the ditch looked when I returned there. Other than the bluebells, prominent flowers were horsemints (Monarda citriodora) and firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella), visible in the upper left, and two others that I’ll show in a separate post.


After I told this story in the Texas Flora group a couple of days ago, florally named Rose Thomas commented that the incident reminded her of Robert Frost’s poem “The Tuft of Flowers.” I didn’t know that poem, so I looked it up and found a version in which Robert Frost himself reads it as the lines of verse scroll to keep pace. I also replied to Rose: “In addition to the bluebells at the bottom of the ditch, the mowers had spared one that was flowering up high, at the level of the adjacent field, next to a culvert. Substitute the culvert for a brook, and that bluebell could have been the tall tuft of flowers in the poem.” (That will make sense if you check out the poem.)


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 19, 2022 at 4:34 AM

Horsemint stages

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A native wildflower that typically begins to make itself seen here by mid-May is the horsemint, Monarda citriodora. The species was on schedule in Great Hills Park on May 15th when I took these pictures showing a formative and a more developed stage.



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Last year I mentioned that the incidents of institutions clamping down on freedom of expression have become so common in what used to pride itself as “The Land of the Free” that I could probably report a new suppression-of-thought incident every single day. I’m beginning to wonder if I was too modest: I might well be able to report two a day now.

I recently read about an incident in the Minding the Campus article “Free Speech Under Fire at St. Vincent College,” by Mike Sabo. If you read it, you’ll see it’s yet another instance of the DIE gang (diversity, inclusion, equity) working to kill off opinions they don’t like—hence the acronym DIE.

I studied a lot of linguistics in college and graduate school, along with a bunch of specific languages in varying degrees, from years down to several months. With that kind of language background, I figured I should do a little translating for you from Religion into English. “Diversity” means uniformity of ideas. “Inclusion” means exclusion of any person with an idea that contradicts current dogma. “Equity” means forced sameness of results, regardless of the competence or efforts of the people involved. Another way to say it is that “equity” means treating people unequally, with some getting favored treatment based on immutable characteristics like skin color or ethnic heritage and others being penalized for those immutable characteristics. Still another way to put it is that equity means inequality before the law.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman






Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 3, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Crab spider on prairie paintbrush

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One of the flowers I expected to see at the Doeskin Ranch on April 27th was prairie paintbrush, Castilleja purpurea var. lindheimeri, based on what I found there last year (though a month earlier in the season, when things were on a normal schedule rather than the delayed one we had this spring). As I got close to one prairie paintbrush I noticed a little crab spider on it, as you see here. The plant bumping up against the paintbrush was white milkwort, Polygala alba, which was out in force at the Doeskin Ranch. Below is a somewhat dreamy view of white milkwort near a few sensitive briar flower globes, Mimosa roemeriana.


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“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

— President Harry S. Truman
Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States. August 8, 1950.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman






Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2022 at 4:31 AM

Ditch diving

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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.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman



Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 26, 2022 at 4:33 AM

Unexpected Missouri violets

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For whatever reason, I practically never come across Missouri violets (Viola missouriensis). The only time I showed a picture of one here was in 2016. Imagine my surprise, then, on April 1st when I discovered two little clumps of Missouri violets that had sprung up between bricks in a walkway behind our house. We’ve called this place home for almost 18 years, and these were the first Missouri violets I’d ever seen in our yard. To give you a sense of scale, let me add that a Missouri violet flower is at most 3/4 of an inch across.


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Welcome to New Discourses! We like to think of this place as a home for the politically homeless, especially for those who feel like they’ve been displaced from their political homes because of the movement sometimes called “Critical Social Justice” and the myriad negative effects it has had on our political environments, both on the left and on the right. If that’s you, welcome, and make yourself at home.

New Discourses is, by design, meant to be apolitical in the usual sense. That means it is not interested in conservative, progressive, left, right, center, or any other particular political stances. It is, in this regard, only broadly liberal in the philosophical and ethical stance. In that case, whether you’re a progressive left-liberal or a conservative right-liberal, traditional or classical in any case, you’re likely to find what we’re doing refreshing. (And if you don’t, we can talk about it! That’s the point!)

That’s from the About page of a website I recently came across (I don’t remember how). If those words resonate with you, check out New Discourses.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Purple, green, yellow

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While photographing some spiderwort flowers (Tradescantia sp.) in our side yard on April 1st I spotted a small iridescent sweat bee (perhaps Augochloropsis metallica) also making a visit. For a closer view of the non-human visitor, click the icon below:

Before the invention of lenses, probably no one had been able to see the details in a bee’s eye.


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The quotation in my previous post from David Mamet’s new book Recessional included an appropriately disparaging reference to the corrupt group Black Lives Matter, whose unsavory beliefs and practices I detailed here on July 23 of last year and on February 2 and March 18 of this year. The sordid saga continues. Last week New York magazine ran a story with the headline “Black Lives Matter Secretly Bought a $6 Million House” and subhead “Allies and critics alike have questioned where the organization’s money has gone.” The purchase of that house was in addition to the 10,000-square-feet, $8.1 million Toronto mansion that once served as the headquarters of the Communist Party of Canada, as well as co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors’s “real estate buying binge” in which she snagged four high-end homes for $3.2 million in the United States. Let’s hear it for Black Lives Matter’s championing of the downtrodden masses!

You can read the New York exposé to learn about the shady maneuvers the group went through to keep the public in the dark about who the owners of the mansion actually are. It’s true, after all, that Black Lies Matter.



The New York magazine article also pointed out an egregious external measure to suppress the April 2021 article in the New York Post that revealed Patrice Cullors’s purchase of four homes for millions of dollars: “It’s currently not possible to share the Post’s article on Cullors’s home purchases on Facebook because the site’s parent company, Meta, has labeled the content ‘abusive.’” Of course in reality it’s Meta’s suppression of the truth that’s abusive.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 12, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Flower tower

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After looking at this photograph—but not while taking the picture—I imagined that the spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.) growing in our side yard on April 1st was a flower tower. The long green leaning “leg” on the right is a stem, while the symmetric one on the left is a leaf. Likewise for the two shorter green segments inside that triangular frame at the bottom.


Yesterday afternoon WordPress popped up a message I’d understandably never seen before: “Congratulations! Your site, Portraits of Wildflowers, passed 500,000 all-time views.”


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 4, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Verbena vortex

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You may have heard that on Monday night several tornadoes swept through the Austin area. One touched down in Round Rock, a large suburb adjacent to Austin on the north. Other tornadoes hit Hutto a little farther east and then Elgin, about 20 miles east of Austin. You can learn about the damage from Austin television stations KXAN, KVUE, and KEYE. Fortunately those tornadoes seem not to have killed or seriously injured anyone, though they destroyed some homes and damaged hundreds of others in varying degrees.

With the tornadoes in mind, I took obvious liberties with the photo of the prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida, that you see above. It was the first flower of that species I found this season, on March 20, coincidentally the first day of spring. Click the thumbnail below for the non-vortexed version.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Texas mountain laurel buds

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On March 18 at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Bastrop County the buds of a Texas mountain laurel bush were opening. The familiar scientific name Sophora secundiflora has given way to Dermatophyllum secundiflorum.


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People claim lots of things, some seemingly more far-fetched than others. When Copernicus in the 1500s and then other scientists in the 1600s claimed that the earth goes around the sun, rather than the other way around, many people didn’t believe it. It seemed counter to the daily experience of watching the sun move in an arc through the sky above a seemingly immobile earth. Evidence, particularly after telescopes got perfected, eventually showed that the strange claim was true.

In October of 2020, shortly before that year’s presidential election in the United States, the New York Post broke a story saying that Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, had brought a laptop computer to a repair shop in Delaware but had never returned to pick it up. As happens in such cases, the unclaimed laptop then became the property of the repair shop’s owner. The laptop per se wasn’t especially valuable, but the data on it was. The laptop’s hard drive contained many photographs showing Hunter Biden doing drugs and cavorting with prostitutes. More importantly, the hard drive also contained e-mails implying that Hunter Biden was getting lots of money from foreign sources in the expectation of access to or influence with Joe Biden.

Given that the main American elections take place early in November, the story could plausibly have been what people have come to call an “October surprise”: condemnatory “information” that a partisan reveals to the public shortly before the election in an attempt to influence people not to vote for the candidate that the partisan opposes. For example, one month before Election Day in 2016 came the release of the Access Hollywood videotape in which candidate Donald Trump was seen speaking lewdly about women. The tape was real, not a fake, and it probably did influence some people not to vote for Trump.

Now let’s return to the 2020 Hunter Biden laptop story. The first question a responsible person would ask is whether the story was true. Might anti-Biden partisans have made it up in an attempt to discredit candidate Biden? Such fakery does sometimes happen, after all, so initially we can’t rule out that possibility—politics is hardly known for its nobility, is it?

Unfortunately, people at many traditional news outlets immediately claimed that the Hunter Biden laptop story was “Russian disinformation,” yet they never brought forth any evidence to prove that it was Russian disinformation. Worse, the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter suppressed even any discussion of the claim, with Twitter going so far as to completely lock the account of the New York Post, the oldest American newspaper still in print.

As becomes an ethical news organization, the New York Post had offered plenty of evidence that the Hunter Biden story was true. The mainstream media not only refused to consider it, but claimed with no evidence that the story was false. That was unethical.

And then there were the 51 former “intelligence” officials who signed a letter saying the Hunter Biden laptop story “has the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” They admitted they had no evidence that that’s what it was but kept pushing the disinformation conjecture anyhow. With all their connections, couldn’t they at least have asked around among their current counterparts to find out what they knew about the story and what they were doing to check its authenticity? Actually the letter writers didn’t even have to do that: soon after the letter appeared, the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) announced that the Hunter Biden laptop story was not Russian disinformation. That made no difference to the many people pushing the “Russian disinformation” narrative.

This past week the New York Times unexpectedly ran a story about Hunter Biden. As the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board put put it on March 18: “The Times waddled in this week with a story on the ‘tax affairs’ of the President’s son, including this gem in the 24th paragraph: ‘Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.” Notice that the admission occurred only in the 24th paragraph of that story. Talk about burying the lead. Apparently the Times figured that that confirmation just barely qualified as part of “all the news that’s fit to print.”

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 21, 2022 at 4:30 AM

Bluebonnet flowering in December!

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A week or so back we were heading north on the Mopac access road when the Lady Eve spied a bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) flowering. Bluebonnets typically reach their peak in April and fade away by May, so while it’s not unusual in December for this species to put out basal rosettes of leaves in preparation for the following spring, it’s highly unusual for a bluebonnet to flower now.

Because of the rarity, yesterday morning I went back with my camera gear, parked adjacent to the stretch of Mopac where Eve had glimpsed the bluebonnet (but I as the driver hadn’t), and walked along the highway embankment to see if I could find the plant—and find it I did. The fact that we haven’t even had any frost yet must have helped produce and maintain this prodigy. Even as the inflorescence shown above was beginning to show its age, a fresh one was opening:

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 10, 2021 at 4:35 AM

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