Sunday, June 15, 2008

The search for Trilliums, Mountain Laurels, and Rhododendrons

In continuation of the travelogue of Jennifer and Sparkling Squirrel from Durham NC to Glenville West Virgina . . .

We planned to make our trip back to SS's house a two day trip - our mission was to search out cool blooming plants native to the Appalachian Region. We had three main targets were Painted Trilliums, Mountain Laurels, and Catawba Rhododendrons. Our eventual plan was to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP).

On our way to the BRP, we stopped at the town of Boone, North Carolina for lunch. Both SS and I were surprised by the town - it was lively, seemingly, progressive, and really beautiful. We ate lunch at Melanie's, because the sign was covered with dancing vegetables.
The service was terrific and the selection was surprisingly varied. As the sign suggests, they have a lot of vegetarian and vegan offerings, as well as plenty of variety for carnivores. Cute decor on the inside - retro, vintage, chic. Later, as we were driving around town, we realized that Boone, NC is home to Appalachian State .

The coolest plant we saw in Boone - this beautiful Solanum, growing as a weed in the hedgerow of the parking lot.



From there we went to Julian Price Park in search of Painter Trilliums. We suspected we were a bit late in the season, but hoped that maybe there was a late bloomer or two. One the trail to the Trilliums we did see - Hawkweeds. I don't know why, but I am really enchanted with hawkweeds. They grow as lawn weeds in that part of the country, looking like delicate dandelions with really hairy leaves (Seriously, if you have hawkweeds in your yard, take a close look at the leaves)
We also saw a club moss.
And lots of buttercups.
We finally did find the Trilliums, but they were not blooming. Here is picture of what we hoped to have found.

From there we drove to Linville Falls, in search of Mountain Laurels. In the parking lot we saw flame azaleas . .

. . . and more hawkweeds.
Up the trail we did find blooming mountain laurels, which I was able to photograph before my camera battery died. Unfortunately, I did not have the spare with me, so I don't have photos of the falls themselves. The falls are worth the hike.


Our next stop was the Rhododendron Gardens - where we hoped to see Rhododendrons. In the parking lot, I became enchanted with these bluets, also called Quaker Ladies.
While we were too late for the trilliums, we were too early for the Catawba Rhododendrons. Imagine this scene full of pink blossoms.
We did see some blooming, but at lower elevations.

One treat at the Rhododendron Gardens was one late blooming Trillium, different species from the painted trillium.

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