I’m coming up for air from writing deadlines, but only for a moment, because I’m spending the afternoon with the current class of Greenville Master Gardeners and then later this evening the first speakers of our long-awaited 2016 GGMG Symposium, For the Love of a Garden, begin to arrive. Tomorrow, I’m showing off the best my endearing city has to offer, checking logistics at the event center, and dining with speakers and friends. And then Saturday is show time!
But, backing up a bit (In a Vase, January 11), I thought you might like to see the hyacinth in bloom. Though not terribly successful, the no-neck flower does have the expected fragrance, an overpowering floral perfume that lingers in the air.
And for my fellow bird fans (Hello Mr. Sapsucker, February 3), I wanted to pass along this LINK showing an animated migration map put together by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology using millions of observations from participants in eBird and the Great Backyard Birdcount. It follows 118 species north in spring and then south in autumn. Fascinating!
Finally, my husband, Tim, and I recently hiked through Gorges State Park and the Pisgah National Forest to Rainbow Falls, one of the most powerful waterfalls in our region, and I wanted to show you a few photos. We selected this adventure on the advice of a friend, Tim Spira, who’s recently published book, Waterfalls & Wildflowers in the Southern Appalachians (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), features 30 great hikes. Now living in Asheville, North Carolina, Tim recently retired from Clemson University where he taught field botany, plant ecology, and natural history.
Rainbow Falls proved to be a winner. Though 4 to 5-inches of snow remained on north-facing slopes, the wide and well-marked trail offered tremendous views beyond the barren tree tops, as well as a close look at thickets of gorge rhododendron (R. minus) and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia).
About 1.5 miles out, an overlook provided a fabulous view of the falls, a near vertical whitewater cascade which falls 125 feet into a deep plunge pool. Not many waterfalls are as strong as Rainbow Falls and with the river swollen with melting snow, it created a crashing roar and thick mist which drifted up the hillside to soak visitors.
Spira’s book is a winner, too. Organized into four sections which offer, in turn, background on the southern Appalachians, brief descriptions of ten plant communities, detailed information on 30 waterfall hikes, and profiles and photos of 125 of the most common and conspicuous wildflowers, it proved to be the perfect guide.