This water lily was photographed at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, FL. It was a typical late afternoon in rainy season and while out photographing the tropical plants in bloom, an afternoon thunderstorm moved through. During rainy season it’s common for storms to move through quickly allowing the the sun back out within minutes to truly make things steamy. On this afternoon, it took a little while for the cloud cover to pass, giving me the opportunity to take a few photos with the freshly fallen rain without harsh lighting from the sun. As it turns out, the rain is what really added interest to many of my photos from that visit.
It wasn’t until I moved to Florida a few years ago and was able to see water lilies more frequently that I realized how much I like them. They not only add color to the ponds they reside in, but offer opportunities to see various wildlife. I often see frogs perched on top of lily pads with bees and dragonflies buzzing nearby . It’s not uncommon to find a bird or two wading through thick clusters of lilies looking for fish that must like to hide underneath their broad leaves. While I think all colors of water lilies are beautiful, this particular variety with the contrast between the vibrant magenta petals and the yellow center is one of my favorites. This photo was taken at the Florida Botanical Gardens one afternoon, where just enough sun filtered through the trees to really highlight this single water lily.
I am excited to announce that one of my photos of an Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly is currently featured in this week’s inspirational message at Reflections by the Sea.
Reflections by the Sea is a unique weekly devotional that incorporates coastal photography in its message. Reflections by the Sea is published in a local newspaper in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and can viewed online by clicking the link below.
I happen to be traveling a bit this week and am seeing the signs of spring the Southeast. The cheery faces of daffodils and snow-white blooms of ornamental Bradford pear trees are a welcome sight, as are the brilliant lavender blooms of my favorite redbud trees. In the last couple of days I’ve spied many birds that seem to be delighted to be home from their winter migration, happily singing as they flit from place to place. Spring officially starts in the next few days, and Mother Nature will soon be in full splendor with flowers blooming just about everywhere. Hot pinks and deep reds always seem to catch my eye when it comes to flowers, and I find myself planting them year after year. These vibrant colors contrast nicely against the lush greens that are so abundant in Florida and seem to attract butterflies like the one featured here. This Eastern Black Swallowtail was caught enjoying the sweet nectar of this bright Penta flower at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida last year.
Spring has official ‘sprung’ in the Tampa Bay area. After a cooler than average winter, the temperatures have warmed up into the upper 70’s with abundant sunshine. There is virtually no humidity and thanks to some nice afternoon breezes, the air is filled with the sweet perfume of the blooming citrus trees. While I love to see the delicate flowers on the tangelo tree in my back yard each spring, it’s not quite as impressive as the instant burst of color of many other flowering trees that stay dormant over the winter a little further to the north. Living in the Southeastern US for the majority of my life, there was a familiar pattern to spring. First the daffodils, tulips and hyacinths would emerge, sometimes before the last snow or freeze of the winter. Next up was the brilliant yellow of forsythia bushes and the bright pinks of redbud trees which seemed to bloom overnight. From here, the ornamental pear trees and cherry trees would bloom, followed by azaleas and dogwoods, filling the landscape with a sea of color.
I often thought of spring as a “reward” for the dreary days of winter, and always tried to soak it in before the hot, humid days of summer rolled in. Living in a tropical climate in Florida means that there isn’t the same ‘great awakening’ in the spring, and I truly miss the spring flowers. On a trip to California a few years ago in late March, I was delighted to find several plants and trees in-bloom, reminding me of the spring days I enjoyed living in the Southeast. This photo is of a redbud tree taken in downtown Sonoma, California.
Whenever I travel to new places I tend to notice the landscaping, noting the trees and plants that are different than those I have at home. Since I’ve lived my entire life in the humid Southeast, the landscape of California was entirely new to me. I first noticed that the native plants there were different than those of the Southeast when exploring the Gardens of Alcatraz. I had only seen succulents in dish gardens at home and was astounded to see plants such as the aeonium arboreum in clusters the size of my kitchen table. I continued to be surprised by beautiful flowers and plants that were only available at florist shops at home, as well as some plants that were entirely new to me. One such plant is the Pride of Madeira or echium candicans featured in the photo above. Absolutely beautiful with flowers ranging from periwinkle to a deep purple, this plant was photographed in Sausalito, California.
Although my family has lived in the Tampa Bay area for several years now, we are still discovering new places to visit. It took a couple of years, but we finally stumbled across the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo, and it’s become a favorite place to visit. The gardens give an excellent opportunity to view native Florida plants and learn a little bit more about some exotic tropical plants that thrive in the area. The gardens feature several retention ponds as well as the beautiful McKay Creek. The water attracts all kinds of wildlife and is especially pretty when the water lilies are in bloom. I took this photo because I loved the contrast of the purple of the lilies against the green lily pads. It wasn’t until I got to see it enlarged on my computer screen that I noticed the the frog on one of the lily pads in the foreground, and that made me like it that much more!