If you really love wildflowers, you must see the Smokies in the Spring.
One April, my daughter, Kim and I took off for the Great Smoky Mtn. National Park and Gatlinburg, Tenn. Our expectations were high and we were very excited at the thought of seeing lots of beautiful wildflowers in the most flora-endowed part of the U.S. AND the chance to meet new friends.. We accomplished both and had a great time.
I had signed up for a DeKalb College Field Trip with George Sanko as leader and teacher. We would explore several places where there were lots of wildflowers blooming and learn some botany for ID purposes.
At the same time, the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage was going on in Gatlinburg. Here they have a native plant sale, books, crafts, and art in the Conference Center on Main Street. Also, a native plant show which is judged. This is a chance to see species brought by plants people from all over the SE US. The most fun part, though, is to sign up for day trips to various parts of the park, led by different knowledgeable people, to see which species grows in that particular area. Some of the places included waterfalls, scenic views, creeks and trails.
We shared our room at Bearland Lodge with Jackie Heyda, noted nature lover in Atlanta whose love of plants seems only to be surpassed by her deep love of birds.
Since George's class was full, Kim took the trip to Ramsay Cascades, a strenuous walk in Greenbrier Cove area. This was Saturday. She came home with glowing reports of all she had seen and heard.
I really enjoyed the fellowship of George's group who were mostly from the Atlanta area. On Sunday morning, there was a threat of rain, and Kim came along with us to the Elkmont area.
Some of the plants we saw, some of which I had never seen in their natural habitat, were Hepatica, Doll's Eyes, Large-flowered Trillium, Nodding Mandarin, Rosy twisted stalk, Waterleaf, a lot of different ferns, the rare Frasers sedge, Jacks, Yellow flrd. Trilliums, (some saw the Painted Trillium), Yellow Ladyslipper, Uvularia and Disporum and the incomparable Showy Orchis was growing like weeds along the trails.
If you are interested in attending the Smoky Mtn. Wildflower Pilgrimage, contact the Chamber of Commerce, Gatlinburg, TN.
The Pilgrimage focuses more on outings and the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in July has more seminars; but has some outings. Both are GREAT!