As noted in an earlier post of Easin’ Along, I have a new camera. I purchased it for two reasons. The first was that I wanted a new learning activity as I entered retirement, and second, I wanted to capture the beauty of the mountains, lakes, foliage, and flowers that surround us in this blessed valley. I still have a LOT to learn but, with spring busting out all over the place, I grabbed my new camera to photograph this colorful bounty…and brag a little. Here’s what I mean by that.
I’m always bragging about the East Tennessee springtime to friends and family who are not fortunate to live where I do. Tennessee in the early spring is lush, it’s green, it’s colorful, and it’s that abundance of colorful flowers, trees, and shrubs that I brag about. Nevertheless, as the late Hall of Fame pitcher, Dizzy Dean, once said, “If you can do it, it ain’t braggin’”. Tennessee does spring very well.
Even the hardest of souls have to admit to casting a prolonged and admiring glance at the beauty that surrounds us this time of year. Admittedly, spring is short here compared to the fall where cooler temperatures and colorful foliage can linger long but, sadly, spring seems to arrive suddenly, and depart almost as quickly. For that reason, I wanted to Ease Along some of the roads through this abundance of color because it appears to be “peak week” in East Tennessee.
Please know that this is not going to be a lesson in botany. In fact, I had to get Helen (adorable wife) and a couple of friends to help me identify several of the flowering trees, shrubs, and wildflowers in these pictures, and even with help, I’m not certain that I’m 100% correct on some of them. Nevertheless, this has been another learning experience, and, one of the guiding principles of Easin’ Along is that we’re NEVER too old to learn.
It should also be noted that, with the exception of one shrub and one wildflower, all of the pictures shown here and in the Picture Gallery that follows this post were taken in a two day period. I should point out that this is just a small sampling of the incredible display we have witnessed so far. Yeah, I’m bragging again, but hopefully the pictures that follow will prove that I can back it up.
Please come with me and let’s enjoy this delightful spring symphony together.
The first things that anyone driving into Tennessee sees this time of year are the flowering trees and, in this annual concert, I always think of the trees as the trumpets blaring away loudly to herald the arrival of the season.
The redbuds that line our interstate highways are among the first welcome signs that greet visitors to our state. Fortunately they thrive here and are plentiful. I needed no help to identify them; they’re like a string of purple neon lights, and are especially bright this year.
The dogwoods seem to be equally beautiful this year as well. Our dogwoods were hit by blight in years past, and the blight is still with us, but it seems that we have turned the corner on the disease, and have also planted some resistant trees to help in that effort. The effort has paid off handsomely.
There are a number of flowering trees that bloom in marvelous harmony with the redbuds and the dogwoods which is what makes this concert so divine. Within just a few miles of my home are weeping cherries, tulip poplars, crabapple, Bradford pears, and all are equally resplendent in dazzling color. A few are shown here and a few more in the picture gallery.
Flowering shrubs are another instrument in our orchestra. I liken them to the woodwinds, playing along in harmony, but strong enough to hold their own.
At this point in the season, we are nearing the end of the Camellia blooms, but they still are doing their best to remain a vibrant part of the ensemble. Camellias are always in danger of frost damage, and we had a few to suffer in early March
Those that have survived, or were covered during cold snaps, are as special as always. I was able to capture some in full bloom.
Forsythia is in full flower. I found a location where some of the double-blooming varieties were planted and, as I was driving to them, I could see them from a half mile away. These bright yellow beauties had been planted under a large, bloomed-out, Bradford pear and together they made quite the couple.
The azaleas are just getting warmed up for the big show in a next few weeks, but I spotted several that are receiving plenty of morning sun and seemed eager to play a few notes for me. The weather forecast calls for both rain and warmer temperatures over the next week and that should serve them well.
The flowering shrubs are shown here and in the Gallery. Included among the shrubs is a stunning purplish-red Lorapetalum…my treat.
In this orchestra flowers are the strings adding richness and depth to the music.
In early spring we get the blooms of the bulbs. Some of the early daffodils have bloomed and returned to the soil as have the crocus, but we have a great many varieties of daffodils here and the blooming season for many them is still underway or yet to begin. I photographed a few of them that I consider unique.
We have tulips galore. I had to refrain from taking pictures of them or else I would have exhausted the capacity of my hard drive. Tulips are my favorite bulb. I still have an endless number of slides of tulips from a trip Helen and I made to Holland many years ago. The fascinating thing to me about tulips is that once you think you have seen every color, here comes another. I even saw some black tulips once.
In addition to the bulbs, we have pansies everywhere – radiant as always. With warmer weather in the offing, I’m not sure how much longer we will have them, but they’re fun.
Phlox are flowers too, and we can’t forget to mention them. I found several colors and had to make sure everyone gets a peek at them.
You gotta love string music.
Let’s carry our musical metaphor a little further. We know we still have a few more days to enjoy the concert but we’re ready to let the power of this performance marinate in our bones for a while. We’re still in the mood for music, but it’s late, so we venture over to a cozy piano bar that fits our mood and offers a few softer pieces.
For us, that cozy piano bar is a walk among the wildflowers.
While working on this post for Easin’ Along my adorable wife suggested that we drive up to Norris Dam, site of a recent trip shared here, and enjoy the wildflower walk that takes place there every spring. It was a splendid suggestion.
Norris Dam is about a thirty minute drive from our home. We crossed the Dam and turned down a side road as directed by a small sign. There were a few cars in the small parking lot and a larger sign bearing a map that depicted the route. We walked around a barricade and followed an old paved road down toward the Clinch River, then turned left and walked through a picnic area no longer in use. We heard the first note from the piano.
To our left along the trail were bright yellow Trout lilies…then a few more…and a few more. Trout lilies were everywhere, both low along the trail, and high on the hillside and rocky bluff that hung over the road.
We walked slowly, not wanting to miss a thing. That piano kept playing as it cranked out a few old favorites like Yellow Trillium, Pink Columbine, and Spring Beauty. There were a number of big hits too including Twin Leaf, Foam Flower, and Wild Phlox. We even saw some Squaw Root.
We walked for over two hours and decided it was about time to leave our charming little piano bar when we spotted some Red Wake-robin’s, a trillium, in the same area as several patches of Purple Phacelia. There were Bloodroot there too which I really love and consider a sighting a rare treat.
Walking back to the car, the tunes kept coming, but there were a few we couldn’t identify. Helen took a picture of one flower and sent it to a friend who is a wildflower encyclopedia for her to take a stab at its identity. The answer came back pretty quickly and the flower was identified as Dentara or “tooth wort”. The mystery was solved.
One other tune remains unidentified and is pictured here. I’m asking Easin’ along readers for help to “Name That Tune (or wildflower)”. This wildflower is only about three inches tall with blooms and leaves protruding from a central stalk. Our friend suggested that it might be a member orchid family. There are other indentified shrubs and flowers in the Picture Gallery so help me if you can. Good luck with it. If someone can identify any of them, I’ll post the names on the Easin’ Along Facebook page.
One additional thing…our Dandelions even look good this time of the year.
For now I’ll be Easin’ Along myself. All of this music has put a little “Spring” in my step.