Blue Ridge Parkway in Bloom

I’m hoping I’ll have a reason to travel to Chateau Morrisette this week (to leave note cards for sale in the Winery Tasting Room store.)

The native pink azaleas (Pinxter Flower, or Rhododendron nudiflorum as I learned it, now R. periclymenoides) was just beginning to bloom when I was over that way last week, but should be at peak in some places in Floyd County’s high-country parts of the Parkway. Click for larger view.

Ferns are springing up everywhere in the wetlands where the skunk cabbage began to appear in early April. You’ll miss almost all the interesting wildflowers at 45 miles an hour  –the legal Parkway speed limit.

So stop pretty much anywhere you can find to safely pull off the road. Wander around slowly within the National Park’s narrow confines, and I can say with some certainty you’ll find something blooming (or lichens, mosses or other non-flowering plants) worth your time.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. If you go make sure you stop at Smart View. Follow the trail from the parking lot and as it goes into the woods look between trail and road for the best group of Ladies Slippers that I’ve seen.