As a young girl living in northern Virginia, Janet Riley was obsessed with the flowers on her grandparents’ farm. 

She used to run through beds of canna lilies, feeling as free as she’s ever felt, Riley said.

Now, a 62-year-old self-described stay-at-home pet mom and a Fort Worth resident, her obsession with flowers has taken a new direction. She has veered away from the childlike freedom they gave her to photographing the natural majesty and beauty of Texas flowers whenever she gets the chance.

Riley won the Fort Worth Report’s March photo contest, “Wildflowers.”

Want to win our next photo contest?

The Fort Worth Report celebrates the month of May with a tribute to moms. With that in mind, we want to see your best photos of moms: hugs, kisses or special moments.

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The entry deadline is May 31.

“I think it’s the perceived romance,” Riley said, explaining why she is drawn to flowers. “I guess you associate romance a lot of times with florals.” 

When speaking about flora, it’s obvious how enamored Riley is by the many different colors and species of flowers. 

When asked her favorite flower, Riley listed off 10 different species — scientific names and all.

The species that Riley captured in the winning photo contest entry: anisacanthus puberulus, or its common name, the dwarf desert honeysuckle. The species is native to Texas, specifically the Big Bend region in West Texas. 

Riley loves to photograph honeysuckle because of the movement it gives off in the wind, she said. Petal movement is one of her favorite things to capture.

“It’s really just a lot of fun to photograph. I like kind of a semi-double blossom, not always full,” Riley said. 

Her winning flower was in semi-double blossom, with an open center. 

While Riley attributes her love of flowers to her grandparents and when she ran through their canna lilies, she credits her knowledge of flora to her career in gardening.

Riley became a master gardener in 2000. Since then, she ran a couple different garden centers throughout North Texas. Most recently, until she retired in 2018, she worked at Tim’s Landscape and Garden Center in Benbrook. 

She loves everything about the not-so-simple art of gardening, but cultivating different flower beds always stood out to Riley, she said. 

“Produce is great, but I was much more interested in flowers,” Riley said.

Sometimes, while photographing, she says the flowers speak to her.

“It’s like it’s performing a dance. It takes on human qualities,” Riley said. “Photographing just brings out passionate thoughts about the life of that flower.”

Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Matthew Sgroi is the 2022-23 Fort Worth Report multimedia fellow. He can be reached at or (503)-828-4063. Sgroi is a current senior at Texas Christian University, majoring...