Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘spring

Cost of a buttercup

with 30 comments

What this gialloscuro take on one buttercup (Ranunculus sp.) in front of another cost me was a more-than-an-hour drive to a roadside on FM 366 west of the little town of Cost in Gonzales County on March 19th. And speaking of this kind of flower, you’re welcome to listen without cost to “I’m Called Little Buttercup” as sung in a 2014 production of H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan Austin.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 30, 2021 at 4:44 AM

Tansy mustard buds opening

with 51 comments

From Gonzales on March 19, here are the opening buds of tansy mustard, Descurainia pinnata. What you’re seeing wasn’t much more than an inch across. The red in the background came from phlox flowers.

And here’s a passage from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty that’s every bit as germane today as it was in 1859, and probably even more so:

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly*, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant — society collectively over the separate individuals who compose it — its means of tyrannising are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism.

* Mill is using vulgar in its original meaning, which referred to ‘the common folk, the populace.’ The word later developed the pejorative sense that now dominates.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 29, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Texas toadflax and colorful friends

with 26 comments

From the McKeller Memorial Park north of Gonzales on March 19th, here’s Texas toadflax (Nuttallanthus texanus) in front of some bright red phlox (Phlox sp.). The yellow glow came from a flower head of Texas groundsel (Senecio ampullaceus). How about those saturated colors?

Unrelated to these wildflowers, here are two whimsical quotations from the article “In Naples, the formula calls for pizza,” by Franz Lidz, in the March 2021 issue of Smithsonian:

“Da Michele’s amoeba-like pies overflow the plate, and you’re not sure whether to eat them or keep them as pets.”

“The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop and says, ‘Can you make me one with everything?'”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 28, 2021 at 4:39 AM

A study in colors and shapes

with 32 comments

On March 19th we drove an hour south to Gonzales to see how the spring wildflowers were coming along. On the whole the results disappointed us, especially compared to the great spring of 2019 in that area. One okay place was the McKeller Memorial Park just north of Gonzales, which did host a colony of bright red phlox (Phlox sp.) and some bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis). The breeze dictated a high shutter speed, which in turn meant a rather shallow depth of field. As a result I experimented with some abstract studies like this one, in which only the tip and an adjacent bit of the unfurling phlox bud were in focus.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 26, 2021 at 4:41 AM

A large redbud tree blossoming

with 44 comments

Here’s how a large redbud tree, Cercis canadensis var. texensis, looked in the town of Cedar Park on March 17th. While no bright St. Patrick’s Day green put in an appearance here, the scene’s color scheme does remind us that before the middle of the 20th century Americans went with pink for baby boys and blue for baby girls. In the realm of geology rather than sociology, the magnetic polarity of the earth has also occasionally reversed. So have a few of my opinions, and presumably so have some of yours as well.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 25, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Four-nerve daisy from the side and from above

with 22 comments

Tetraneuris linearifolia; March 11th on the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 24, 2021 at 4:34 AM

Great purple hairstreak butterfly and Mexican plum blossoms

with 32 comments

On March 15th at McKinney Falls State Park many flying insects were drawn to the heady blossoms of a Mexican plum tree (Prunus mexicana). Among those insects was a great purple hairstreak butterfly (Atlides halesus). You can see that despite its common name, it doesn’t look purple. You can also see in the second picture the dense multitude of blossoms that adorned the tree.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2021 at 4:29 AM

Spiderwort flowers in the shade

with 31 comments

Heavy shade behind the entrance building at McKinney Falls State Park on March 15th
led to this soft portrait of spiderwort flowers (Tradescantia sp.).

The vernal equinox for 2021 occurs today, so happy official beginning of spring to you. That English name for the season is the same word as the spring that means ‘jump up,’ because this new season is the time when plants spring up from the ground as the cold of winter fades. (That may sound like folk etymology, which is to say false etymology, but in this case it’s true.) English had earlier called the season lencten, the time when the days lengthen; the modern form of that word, Lent, became specialized as the name of the time in the spring that leads up to the Christian holiday of Easter. Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, and Italian call the spring primavera, and Romanian primăvară, literally ‘first spring,’ which is to say ‘early spring,’ from the Latin name of the season, vēr, and that’s why today is the vernal equinox. French calls spring printemps, literally ‘first time,’ and it is indeed a prime time for wildflowers. The Polish ophthalmologist L.L. Zamenhof, in creating the artificial language Esperanto, borrowed the French word in the form printempo. German calls spring Frühling, based on the früh that means ‘early.’ The Scandinavian languages call the season vår, a native cognate of Latin vēr. Now that you know all these words, there’s no excuse for not having some spring in your step today.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 20, 2021 at 4:39 AM

Fringed puccoon flowers

with 45 comments

On March 11th, in hopes of finding some fringed puccoon (Lithospermum incisum) in bloom, we headed to the Upper Bull Creek Greenbelt Trail, where I’d photographed some of those flowers around this time in past years—and find some I did. Given the low light and my not wanting to introduce the harshness of flash, in these pictures I went for a limited-focus approach (f/3.5 and f/3.2, respectively.) Do you agree that crinkled puccoon would be a better name for these wildflowers than fringed puccoon?

And here’s an unrelated thought for today: “Rien n’imprime si vivement quelque chose à notre souvenance que le désir de l’oublier.” “Nothing imprints a thing as vividly in our memory as the desire to forget it.” — Michel de Montaigne.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 18, 2021 at 4:29 AM

Interpenetrating wildflower colonies

with 23 comments

From April 27th along Park Road 4 in Burnet County here are three pleasantly interwoven wildflower colonies. The yellow flower heads with brown centers are brown bitterweed, Helenium amarum var. badium. The red ones are firewheels, Gaillardia pulchella, even if they have more red and less yellow than this species does on average. The white flowers are wild onions, Allium canadense, though I’m not sure which subspecies.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 5, 2020 at 4:49 AM

%d bloggers like this: