Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers

Texas toadflax and colorful friends

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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

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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

Four-nerve daisy from the side and from above

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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

Spiderwort flowers in the shade

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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

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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

First wildflower for this spring

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On March 8th along Balcones Woods Dr. I took my first spring wildflower pictures. The subjects in all of them were ten-petal anemones, Anemone berlandieri. That’s hardly surprising, given that we occasionally observe the species blooming here as soon as late January, with February being more common—but then our sustained sub-freezing weather in mid-February delayed the flowering not only of the anemones but also of other early native wildflowers we might expect to see by the end of February. But a delay is still only a delay, and on a nature walk yesterday I found four other native wildflower species budding and blooming. In Austin now there’s no doubt that spring has sprung.

And here’s a related quotation by Wendell Berry from Sabbaths, 1987:

I dream of a quiet man
who explains nothing and defends
nothing, but only knows
where the rarest wildflowers
are blooming, and who goes,
and finds that he is smiling
not by his own will.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 12, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Coral honeysuckle flower and buds

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A couple of months ago I discovered a picture in my archives that I’d never shown, so here it is on the 10th anniversary of the date I took it. You’re looking at a coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) flower surrounded by buds along Great Northern Blvd. Unfortunately construction along Mopac and the building of a sound-mitigating wall have destroyed or blocked much of the strip where I used to photograph native plants.

And here’s a quotation for today: “… [A] copy of the universe is not what is required of art; one of the damned thing is ample.” — Rebecca West, 1928, in the essay “The Strange Necessity.” Quote Investigator offers more information.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 10, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Snow on bare stalks: horizontal and vertical formats

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Back to the January 10th snowfall in the northeast quadrant of Mopac and US 183.
The stalks below were Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 23, 2021 at 4:36 AM

Prairie verbena flowers in winter

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Glandularia bipinnatifida; January 6, 2021; far north Austin.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 22, 2021 at 4:08 AM

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

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