Sheared Pink

 

Not long ago, Brad Nixon provided a fascinating etymological exploration into the name of a tool I’ve known for years: pinking shears. Useful for seamstresses and used even by today’s children for craft projects, they provided my mother a useful metaphor, as well. Occasionally she’d give me an appraising look before saying, “Your bangs look like they were cut with pinking shears.”

Eventually, the name “pinks” came to be applied to perennial Dianthus. The common name refers to the frilly edges of the flowers’ petals, which look like they were cut with pinking shears.

But not only the pinks seem pinked. This opening winecup bud has similar edges. While less obviously frilly than the petals of the pinks, they’re also sheer delight.

 

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The Over-achievers

 

Unlike the so-called standing poppy-mallow (Callirhoe digitata), the purple poppy-mallow, or winecup (Callirhoe involucrata) forms mats of colorful blooms. Usually, the flowers appear singly atop their stems, but in the midst of one thick stand in the Rockport City Cemetery, I found this pair: a beautifully colored little quirk of nature.

Not far away, a section of the cemetery was filled with white prickly poppies (Argemone albiflora spp. texana), one of my favorite Texas wildflowers. I searched for the plant for at least two years without success; now I see them frequently, in places as widely separated as our coastal bays and the hill country.

What I’d never seen before my visit to Rockport was a prickly poppy with what appeared to be extra petals extending out from the same receptacle as the usual flower. Perhaps the poppy had attempted to ‘double’ in the same way as the winecup, but managed only to produce  extra petals.

In any event, I was delighted to find these little quirks of nature: good reminders that what can’t be explained still can be enjoyed.

 

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Raising a Toast to Transition

Trailing winecup (Callirhoe involucrata) on the Nash prairie

Several species of winecup appear across Texas, and their common names reflect their growth habits. This lower-growing variety spreads across our coastal prairies and fields, while the standing winecup (Callirhoe digitata), true to its name, often grows as high as two or three feet in the hill country.

Other slight differences distinguish the species, but what they have in common is their glorious color. Ranging from rose, to magenta, to burgundy and almost-red, they’re a perfect flower for the transition from spring to summer. As compelling as Indian paintbrushes and as lovely as bluebonnets, they’re nature’s way of serving up yet another intoxicating sight.

 

 

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