Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
AS AN AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER myself, I’m always excited to see the many visitors who come to the Wildflower Center toting tripods and SLRs or even just aiming their smartphones at a brilliantly blooming garden.
In the springtime, when bluebonnets are plentiful, the Center is a 279-acre photo opportunity with special spots for taking those traditional Texas photos.
In fact, the Wildflower Center is a photographer’s paradise, whether you are looking for the perfect macro shot of a single flower, trying to capture a bird, a bunny or a reptile at just the right moment with your zoom lens, focusing on the iconic arboretum trees, or experimenting with shots of the scenic landscapes in our savannas and woodlands.
If you need more inspiration to pick up your camera and head for the Center, ask Bruce Leander, a retired biotechnology executive about his photographic experiences here. Bruce has devoted several years to capturing the flora, fauna and seasons at the Center. His dramatic images are on display in two high-definition slide shows in the media room of the Visitors’ Gallery and in other spaces around the Center. When you see a stunning photograph of the Wildflower Center, it’s likely Bruce’s handiwork, since he has generously given us the rights to a wonderful collection of his photographs.
Photographs are also at the core of the Native Plant Information Center, the online guide to North American native plants, visited by more than 5 million people each year. It features more than 32,000 images of plants, thanks to the many photographers who have contributed their photographs to this great global resource.
So it was a natural next step for us to launch a wildflower photo contest four years ago, partnering with Texas Highways, a magazine renowned for its photography. You can see this year’s photo contest winners on the cover and on page 12 of the magazine.
Each year we receive more than 1,000 entries from all over the nation, creating a seriously difficult task for the five judges who decide the winners in each category. Thanks to all of you who have entered, whether you make your living with photography or just take the occasional snapshot.
We have changed categories to create new opportunities. This year we added a category for The Native Landscape at the Wildflower Center to the other four – Landscapes, Botanicals, Wildlife in the Native Landscape and People with Wildflowers. In the past, we have had categories for youth and black-and-white photos.
We were also fortunate to again host Texas Highway’s wildflower photo exhibit during National Wildflower Week in May. Photo editor Griffin Smith, who took some of these outstanding photos, was on hand one Saturday morning to offer photo tips.
Knowing that photographers love the quality of light in early morning, we opened the gate at 6:30 a.m. on two mornings this spring for photographers who paid the half-price admission in advance. We hope to expand that next year during the spring months when the photo contest is on.
So keep us in mind when you’re looking for photo opportunities. We welcome you! Fall is a season not to be overlooked for excellent photographic opportunities at the Center. The bigtooth maples go brilliant-orange while the Texas ash turns bright-yellow. Apples appear on the Texas crabapple while Maximilian sunflowers light up the meadow … and much more.— Susan K. Rieff, Executive Director