On our May travels to attend various family events, we took several days for a leisurely detour into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our first overnight stop was Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
The next morning we paid to go into a venerable tourist attraction that featured the actual blowing rock that gave the mountain town its name. The attraction included a well-maintained garden, pathways, safety railings (important for this stroke survivor’s comfort zone) and observation deck.
The garden afforded cozy and lovely spots to sit and absorb the serenity of the surroundings, protected from the wind. Mid-May was still the off season, and I’m not sure that “serenity” would apply mid-summer. From the observation decks there were beautiful views of the surrounding dramatic terrain.
The name Blowing Rock was well deserved. The rock formation and the air currents from a gorge far below combined to produce an intense wind. I had to concentrate to keep my balance.
But the wildflowers captured my attention the most. There were bluets, old friends I was acquainted with from visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Another was a species of columbine, an exotic-looking wildflower that is a favorite of hummingbirds.
The perennial’s flaming red and yellow blooms hung from slender stalks. I probably never would have learned its identity if not for the Wildflowers of the Smokies by Peter White. This 208-page soft-cover field guide contains beautiful photos of flowers, all arranged by colors.
It fits into purse or daypack and is an easy-to-use starting place for me and other enthusiastic but inexperienced wildflower fans. What surprised me is that the plant ranges from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia and south to Florida and Texas. Apparently that includes my home state of Mississippi.
Regrettably, my contact with wildflowers is mostly limited to vacation travel. I had heard the word columbine but had never before seen a picture or actual plant and blooms. Seeing it was like receiving an unexpected gift.
Not so much the bluets. Bluets are tiny, a half inch or less diameter with blue petals and yellow center. Individually they might go unnoticed, but they grow close together and create bright patches of blue. I never did successfully capture their color and, well, the endearing way they look. Yes, flowers can be endearing.
The photo above is borrowed from the online store of the Great Smoky Mountains Association here. Even when I am indoors and far from the Smokies, the cover of this little book, the feel of it in my hand and a browse through its pages can fill me with anticipation of, wonder at and thankfulness for the beauty in our world.
My brief wildflower photo safari had me smiling the rest of the day.