Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘spring

The median with more than the median amount of wildflowers

with 27 comments

It’s hard to stop showing colorful pictures from the median of US 290 east of TX 21 as it looked on April 6th. Of the three main wildflowers—bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), Texas dandelions (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus), and Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa)—different colors predominated in different parts of the median. The paintbrushes that constituted the largest share in the top view put in only a minor appearance below, where bluebonnets and Texas dandelions marshaled* roughly equal forces in the field of floral fracas.

* Here’s the history of marshal that Merriam Webster gives:

Although most French words are derived from Latin, a few—among them marshal—are Germanic. In the last centuries of the Roman Empire, the Germanic Franks occupied what is now France and left behind a substantial linguistic legacy, including what became medieval French mareschal. Mareschal came from a Frankish compound noun corresponding to Old High German marahscal, composed of marah, meaning “horse” (Old English mearh, with a feminine form mere, whence English mare), and scalc, meaning “servant” (Old English scealc). The original marshal was a servant in charge of horses, but by the time the word was borrowed from French into English in the 14th century, it referred primarily to a high royal official.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 22, 2022 at 4:02 PM

Water speedwell

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While walking in a familiar place just south of Austin’s McKinney Falls State Park on April 14th I noticed several instances of an unfamiliar plant at the edge of still water. I took pictures and posted a few of them in the Texas Flora group on Facebook in hopes of getting an identification. I did, and a speedy one at that, from Aidan Campos: Veronica anagallis-aquatica, known as water speedwell. These plants grow only about a foot tall, and their flowers are tiny, no more than a quarter of an inch (6mm) across. The second picture shows the unusual way the paired inflorescences emerge from the same axil that gives rise to a pair of leaves that clasp the stem.

Speaking of speedwell, the large 1913 Webster’s Dictionary gave as its first definition of speed not what we would expect today but rather ‘prosperity in an undertaking; favorable issue; success.’ (We see that original sense in the old-fashioned Godspeed.) The American Heritage Dictionary tells us that the underlying Indo-European root *spē-, which meant ‘to thrive, prosper,’ also appears in our Latin-derived words prosper and, on the negative side, despair

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 21, 2022 at 4:12 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Not red this time

with 8 comments

Every now and then I’ve shown you a photograph of the many little red fruits that adorn yaupon trees (Ilex vomitoria) at the end of the year and into the new year. You’ve also occasionally seen some of the gluttons, both avian and mammalian, that feast on those fruits (the last two links take you to cute little animal pictures; check them out).

On April 15th in Great Hills Park I found a couple of yaupons in full bloom—something I hadn’t previously seen (at least not consciously). The top picture provides a close look at a sprig of buds and blooms. In contrast, the bottom photograph pulls way back to give you an overview, a gestalt. In neither picture do you see the many insects that the flowers attracted.

 

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“Our task is that of making ourselves individuals. The conscience of a race is the gift of its individuals.”
— Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 19, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Ditches

with 36 comments

Ditches often provide a good view of nature thanks to the water that accumulates and keeps the soil moist. The ditch in today’s picture lies on the north side of US 290 east of TX 237 between Carmine and Burton in Washington County. I pulled over at the side of the road there on April 8th to photograph the prominent Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa) on the highway embankment. Then I noticed all the spike rushes (Eleocharis sp.) that had colonized the ditch; they’re a kind of sedge.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 18, 2022 at 4:25 PM

Time again for prairie celestials

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During the first week of April native plantophile Robert Kamper kept me apprised of how the prairie celestials, Nemastylis geminiflora, were coming along in the greenbelt right behind his house in Round Rock. Early in the afternoon on April 11th I went out there and was pleased to find over half a dozen of the flowers scattered about, including the one shown here.

 

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So yesterday morning I went to Sprouts to buy some produce. While walking around the store I noticed in the dairy section that there was a Manager’s Special on the house brand of cream cheese, whose current regular price is $1.79 each. The sale sign told customers they’d get $2.58 off if they bought two packages. How could I pass up a good deal like that? I put four packages of cream cheese into my cart.

A little later, as the cashier was tallying my items, I noticed that each package of cream cheese was ringing up on the register at the regular price of $1.79. I pointed out to the cashier that the cream cheese was on sale, and I asked if the discount would show up at the end (some stores—do you hear me, Central Market?—annoyingly do it that way rather than showing the discount right after each item appears on the screen). The cashier seemed not to know the item was on sale. After a little back and forth, she finally asked whether I was talking about a Manager’s Special. Yes, I told her, that’s what it was. Her answer was that, oh, Manager’s Specials typically only last one day, and because of that they don’t get entered into the store’s computer and therefore don’t show up at the register. She asked me what the sale price was, but I didn’t remember exactly how much of a discount I was supposed to get, so she had to run all the way to the dairy section in the most distant part of the store to read the sign, do the calculations, and then come back and manually ring up each cream cheese for 50¢ rather than $1.79.

What kind of a way to run a business is that? Is each customer required to announce at the register that an item is a Manager’s Special? There was nothing on the sale sign that said I had to do that. Think about all the people who get enticed into buying Manager’s Specials and don’t notice at the register that they’ve been charged the regular price after all. A cynical shopper couldn’t be blamed for saying that that’s the whole point. What do you think, shoppers?

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 18, 2022 at 3:42 AM

Bluebrushelions

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Today’s post’s title is a portmanteau of the bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis), Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa), and Texas dandelions (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus) that we saw in the median of US 290 east of TX 21 on April 8th. I walked back and forth in the median; by aiming at different angles and zooming my 24–105mm lens to different focal lengths I was able to get quite a variety of pictures.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2022 at 4:33 AM

Posted in nature photography

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Pretty pastel pair

with 19 comments

On the breezy Sunday of April 10th we drove east and south looking for wildflowers. In the western corner of Lee County I struggled to get closeups as my subjects kept blowing in the wind that hadn’t left us all week. This portrait shows some kind of astragalus in front of a species of phlox. Pretty pastels, don’t you think?

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 17, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Classic combo

with 37 comments

Probably the best-known combination of spring wildflowers that Texas lays claim to is bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) and Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja indivisa). That’s what compelled me to stop at the field you see above along TX 105 southwest of Navasota on April 8th. Looking in the opposite direction, toward the highway embankment I’d scampered down, I got low to photograph a cluster of pale paintbrushes nestled among bluebonnets.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 16, 2022 at 4:22 PM

Unexpected Missouri violets

with 32 comments

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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© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 15, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Calderón de la Barca comes to Austin

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When I walked in our untended back and side yard on April Fool’s Day I wasn’t fooled: I recognized a good half-dozen native species that had come up on their own, including this Carolina geranium (Geranium corolinianum). Apropos the foliage supporting that flower, look at this passage from Pedro Calderón de la Barca‘s 1632 play La Banda y la Flor (The Scarf and the Flower):

La verde es color primera
Del mundo, y en quien consiste
Su hermosura, pues se viste
De verde la primavera.
La vista más lisonjera
Es aquel verde ornamento,
Pues sin voz y con aliento
Nacen de varios colores
En cuna verde las flores
Que son estrellas del viento.

Green is the primary color
Of the world, and the reason
For its beauty is that
Spring dresses in green.
That green ornamentation
Is the most flattering view,
Because without voice but with breath
A green cradle gives birth to flowers,
Which are the wind’s stars.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 11, 2022 at 4:31 AM

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