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.
With unseasonably cold weather gripping much of the country right now, I thought a nice “warm” looking photo was in order. These coconut palms were photographed in Marathon, Florida, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico about this time last year. Coconut palms are only found in tropical regions with warm humid weather, preferring sandy soils. In the states, you can find them thriving in South Florida along the coast and in the Keys as well as the extreme southern tip of Texas, although they are not native to the US. Origins of the coconut palm are believed to be in the Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands, but there is some debate about the actual location.
Just north of San Francisco is the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, CA. One of the remaining old growth forests on the planet, the forest is full of centuries old Coastal Redwoods that tower hundreds of feet above. One of the beautiful features of the Muir Woods is the Redwood Creek that meanders through the heart of the forest. Redwood Creek runs off of Mount Tamalpais through Muir Woods and out to the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach. The creek is home to some of the last native California Coho and Steelhead Salmon in the area. They return each winter from the Pacific Ocean to spawn after the first heavy rain of the season.
Nothing says ‘tropical’ quite like a coconut palm tree. Intolerant of cold weather, coconut palms thrive in sandy soil and have a high tolerance for the salt water and sea spray they are normally near. They love abundant direct sunlight, regular rainfall and finally, humidity. With such specific growing conditions, it’s no wonder coconut palms are only found the in the tropics. Coconut palms are found in south Florida along the coast, and throughout the Keys. This palm was photographed in the Florida Keys in Marathon.
These majestic Coastal Redwoods were photographed in the in the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California. Just north of San Francisco in Mill Valley, Muir Woods celebrated 100 years as a national monument in 2008. As the only old-growth redwood forest in the San Francisco Bay area, Muir Woods is actually one of few left on the planet. Once found throughout the northern hemisphere, Coastal Redwoods are now only only found in a narrow 500 mile coastal strip from southern Oregon to northern California. Coastal Redwoods are the tallest of all living things on earth with the tallest tree at Muir Woods measured at 258 feet tall. The average age of the Coastal Redwoods at Muir Woods is between 600 and 800 years old, and the oldest is estimated at 1200 years old. As old as this sounds, these incredible tress can live up to 2200 years old.