I caught a flash of orange-red out of the corner of my eye, off in a morning meadow beside the Blue Ridge Parkway. “California poppy escaped from cultivation” I thought, but pulled off the shoulder anyway, because these small but colorful flowers were nicely backlit against dark morning shadows in stark contrast to the plant’s brilliance.
But as I walked closer through the damp grasses and ferns, I could tell this was not poppy, but Indian Paintbrush–an uncommon wildflower in my experience. Here they pose along with Golden Alexander.
The botanically-best thing about the Parkway is that there is almost always a place you can pull over, get out and explore.
And almost anywhere you do that, if you take your time and wander off into the woods, you’ll find something of interest.
But remember: the Blue Ridge Parkway, while it is the nation’s LONGEST national park, it is in many places only a hundred yards wide, and then, you’re on private property. So go with this thought in mind.