Flowers are nature’s exclamation point – adding colorful emphasis to the arrival of spring. I track spring in the Tampa Bay FL area by the arrival of two species. As mentioned in my First Sign of Spring post from 13 Mar 2016, first to appear is the Atamasco Lily (Zephyranthes atamasco) – also know as Easter Lily and Rain Lily. I regularly find these lilies along the Hillsborough River – the blooms typically lasting a few weeks in March and individual flowers lasting only a few days.
The second early spring flower is the Prairie Iris (Iris hexagona). My wife’s favorite flower, I spend many of the weekends in late March and early April at two locations that consistently provide blooms. Interestingly, the Hillsborough River State Park irises seem to peak several weeks before those at Brooker Creek Preserve. Last year the bloom at Hillsborough River State Park was exceptional, but this year the peak seemed to be suppressed – perhaps by heavy rains that damaged the flowers. This year the bloom at Brooker Creek Preserve was fantastic, much better than last year’s. I photographed irises at this location from late March and well into mid-April, including a set captured for my wife on her birthday.