Spring is coming and with the brutally cold temperatures of this winter I know many of us are more than ready for it to be here.
When I think of spring I think flowers, flowers, flowers and The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is full of them. The park is sometimes referred to as the Wildflower National Park since it is home to over 1,500 kinds of flowering plants. The earliest to show beginning in February are in a group called ephemeral. This group of flowers begin to show before the deciduous trees leaf out and include trillium (shown below), violets and lady slipper orchids to name a few.
Flowering trees soon follow with the flowers of red maples, Fraser magnolias, redbuds and flowering dogwoods. We can’t forget the lovely blossoms of the flowering shrubs here in the Smoky’s, the brilliant yellow of spicebush and the pink and white of the azaleas and rhododendrons.
Each spring the area hosts a wildflower pilgrimage. In 2014 the dates for the pilgrimage are April 15-19 and registration is required. The pilgrimage includes professionally guided walks, seminars and indoor presentations. If you love flowers or just want to know more about the fauna, ecology and natural history of the area check out the 64th annual wildflower pilgrimage.