Tampa rolls out new wildflower project in parks

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The City of Tampa is trying out a new project to plant wildflowers at three parks in hopes to save money while also beautifying the parks.

The wildflowers have been planted at Gadsden Park, Rowlett Park, and the New Tampa Overpass. Brad Suder is a superintendent in the city’s parks and recreation department.

“When we started looking at this we also realized, well is that aesthetic to the roadways we can actually reduce cost of our maintenance operations in terms of our mowing contracts of the grass along some of those roadways.”

Suder says the project is on track.

“The seed cost total was $850. The seed mixtures that we acquired work so right now we apparently have blooms in those three locations.”

The city has planted a lot of different wildflower species

“The seed mix is a variety of species that bloom at different times. Currently right now what is blooming is the Coreopsis, which is the yellow plant as well as some of the other species that were in that mix. The Black Eyed Susan are also blooming.

Suder hopes the city will expand the wildflower project in the future.

“I personally haven’t heard of a lot of response yet, people who know that I work for the city they ask if we had done that and I said yes and that we plan on expanded it next year, probably doing more seed in more areas really to help cost of maintenance and mowing and gas and fertilizer and all those other efforts.”

The Florida Native Plant society began in 1980 with the mission to promote the preservation, restoration, and conservation of native plants communities in Florida. Devin Higginbotham, President of the Suncoast Chapter, supports Tampa’s wildflower project.

”We’re all for promoting any kind of native plants to be used in our community. The native flowers attract pollinators which are essential to our ecosystem in Florida so yea that’s a very positive move.”

The Florida Native Plant society may try to help Tampa.

“We just had a meeting with Lisa Roberts, she’s the executive director for the Florida wildflower foundation, which is based in the Orlando area. And they’re the group that promotes the license plate Wild Flower and that’s their source of revenue. They’re initiating several new projects in the community to promote wild flowers in any areas roadside planting, and parks, in people’s yards in neighborhoods and different communities around our area. We’ve been working closely with them and we’d be thrilled to work with the city of Tampa as well.”

Tampa will plant wildflowers to bloom next summer at Ben T. Davis Park, Bobby Hicks Park and along the Manhattan Trail.