I’ve had the worst luck this year when it comes to my wildflower photography. I either miss peak bloom and arrive as the flowers have gone to seed, or the flowers have been mowed/harvested. I just missed most of the sunflowers in the Waxahachie to Ennis area in Texas by a couple of days this year. By the time I arrived the heat had doomed the agriculturally grown sunflowers into a drooping slump with the exception of a handful of blooms that were still upright. But at least the field had some wild sunflowers still thriving amongst the done for commercial cousins.
How can you tell the difference between wild sunflowers, and commercial ones? Easy: commercial ones have a flower that’s about the size of a human head, and wild ones are about the size of a human palm to hand.
These were taken in a multi-acre field adjacent to the Texas Motorway in Ennis, Texas on June 14, 2017.
Happy little bee.
This bee was dead, it had gotten tangled in a spiderweb, if you look carefully you can see some of the web’s filaments between the lower petals.
I’ve been slowly recovering from a knee injury, which has suspended a great deal of my plans for wildflower photography this Spring. Unfortunately, I missed peak bloom down in the Ennis area, but I decided to go there today and try my luck hoping there be a few small vignettes I could work with. More than 95% of the Bluebonnets have gone to seed or have been overtaken by the grass. While there were a few lovely spots with primroses, they were in locations where there was no naturally flattering composition available at that spot. And fields of flowers don’t look like field of flowers unless you can compose them just right.
One of the spots I did have luck, was a small fenced in private pasture on Mach Road, the Bluebonnets there were thick, lush, and tall. If not at peak, they’re just a bit past peak and they were surrounded with some sprinklings of pink, yellow, and even a touch of white from some other wildflowers which intensified the blue of the bluebonnets themselves.
I was working on a composition, when suddenly I noticed a mule/donkey walking towards me. I was like, ok I can work with this. But that meant I was changing from a landscape shot, to a wildlife shot, so I switched out my camera lens accordingly. So I was trying to line up a shot testing my setting on my camera with the new lens, snapping some shots, when I noticed what I had captured. I was just photobombed by a pair of exhibitionists.
The perils of nature photography.
Photobombed by an exhibitionist pair.
A hodge podge of some of the other wildflowers you can find growing across the Texas countryside: wild sunflowers, horsemint (bee balm), Yucca, Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom, coneflower, and more. So many fields are over taken by yellow flowers, unfortunately they’re a challenge to photograph as usually temperatures are such the grass is no longer quite as verdantly green when compared to early spring, and with green and yellow being complimentary colors, you don’t have the deep contrast that can help make both colors really vivid when taking a photograph.
It’s so amazing how in a period of 4-6 weeks the wildflowers can change so drastically in the Texas Hill Country. Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes have faded, and now up comes other flowers like Indian Blankets (aka Firewheels), thistles, Horsemint (aka Bee Balm) and Mexican Hats (a type of coneflower) . I found this field June 8, 2016 along 71 just west of Spicewood and Cypress Creek. I stopped off and from the fence was taking pictures of the field, when I heard an engine idling behind me, the owner had come home from one of his other fields they farmed. The farm has been in the family since the 1800s, and the farmer couldn’t remember a year where the field was so overtaken by the horsemint. He even insisted my friends and I go home with some.
In addition to the orange-red hues of Indian Paintbrushes, there are also some cousin flowers known as Prairie Paintbrush, the later appears in a range of hues including yellow, pale pink, peach, fuschia and shades in between. While these are found in Texas, they also can be found as far north as Kansas and Missouri.
I was on the 501 between Pontotoc and Cherokee in the Texas Hill Country, when I stumbled along some roadside blooms that had a range of the prairie paintbrush blooming against the Texas state wildflower: the Bluebonnet.
The image with the footpath, comes from Tandy Hills Natural Area in Fort Worth, Texas. Located just minutes from downtown, it preserverves over 160 acres of native prairie, and you can find some spectatcular sunsets here, especially during the blooming season. Milkweed in endless varieties is prevalent, and milkweed is the favorite food (as well as place to cocoon) for the Monarch Butterfly.
Texas is home to several varieties of poppies including a range of colors from white, pink, red, and a blend of coloring. Some varieties even have frilled petals. The poppies are usually found blooming in the Spring, and tend to bloom around the same time as the Texas Bluebonnets.
While Texas Bluebonnets are always crowd-pleasers, one of the other more populous Texas Wildflowers, would be the Indian Paintbrush, which possesses an orange to red hue with creme tips. Indian Paintbrushes in a normal year tend to start blooming as the Bluebonnets begin to peak and fade. They tend to reach similar heights to the bluebonnets, and can offer some great contrast which can really help to really bring out the blue hues in the Bluebonnet.
Red, White and Blue
Texas Wildflowers – Part 1
Texas has more than 5,000 flowering plants native to the Lone Star State, across a vast multitude of environs, and elevations. And every Spring the display most Texans wait for is when the treasure trove of Bluebonnets come out to play, sometimes offering spectacular fields of Bluebonnets that are more than a mile long.
I’m anxiously following the wildflower reports from well regarded institutions like the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin and other obsessed outlets so I can plan this year’s photographic expedition throughout the state. Last year I ranged across the Texas Hill Country finding displays from Ennis, the Brenham/Independence area, Fredericksburg, Pontotoc and other areas in the Llano/Mason area.
Bluebonnets while typically blue, also have a couple of other (albeit it rarer) varieties. Typically they grow to about a foot in height, but the variety found only in Big Bend National park can grow to nearly 3 feet tall. Here are just a few of the bluebonnets I captured in 2016.
One of the things I enjoy about the peak of wildflower season from March – June here in Texas, is that often times the best wildflower fields can be found in the countryside along with the livestock from which farmers and ranchers derive their livelihood. Ennis, Texas is known for their bluebonnets, and the area garden club works on seeding their surrounding countryside, providing maps for tourists which even include other photo ops of interest, such as that all too stereotypical Texas Longhorn and even horses. One of the owners leaves out a bucket of grain for visitors, so you can tempt the horses to the fence line for photos. Whether it’s Ennis, or other areas of the Texas Hill Country, you never quite know what you might find unless you go exploring!