The Natural Rhododendron Gardens of Roan Mountain

This was originally posted five years ago, but these spectacular Flowers are always worth another visit.

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog


Every June thousands of people flock to Roan Mountain to walk among the magnificent mounds of rhododendrons. In a good year, these dense shrubs, standing taller than a person, create a spectacular display with thousands of magenta blooms. Each rhododendron’s round, manicured shape is a testament to severe pruning by wind and winter weather. The peak blooming period is usually around the third week of June, but this year, the bloom has come early, and the blanket of flowers over the upper slopes of the mountain are already impressing impatient visitors.


Around 1830, General John T. Wilder bought 7,000 acres across the top and sides of Roan Mountain. It was Wilder who built the road to Carver’s Gap at 5,550 feet. He also constructed a 20 room log inn near the summit of Roan High Knob in 1877, then replaced it with the luxurious Cloudland Hotel. For about 20 years…

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The Spectacular Laurels of Biltmore

In late May, the approach road at Biltmore Estate is alive with large Mountain Laurel in magenta, pink, and white. With many of the showy shrubs being nearly a hundred years old, you won’t find a better display anywhere in the mountains. They were planted by Fredrick Law Olmsted, who designed all the landscaping at this historic Vanderbilt estate. But you’ll need to hurry. In a week or so, they will be gone.

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Magenta Mountain Laurel at Biltmore

Mountain Laurel at Biltmore Estate

Biltmore magenta mountain laurel

Pink mountain laurel at biltmore estate

Of course, a visit to Biltmore in Asheville is never complete without a drive around the entire estate, and a stop at the glorious Biltmore Gardens.

Biltmore Gardens Brick path

Biltmore Gardens Yellow roses

biltmore gardens red roses

biltmore gardens fuchsia roses

biltmore house reflecting pond

fly fishing at biltmore estateI can’t think of a more peaceful way to spend a late Spring afternoon…

Otter Creek Falls after Heavy Rains

Over 8″ of rain has fallen here in three days, and all the creeks are filled to overflowing. The National Weather Service has announced an official end to any drought conditions anywhere in North Carolina.

This one minute video shows Otter Creek Falls as I prefer to see it, very active.

Pearson’s Falls in May

After eight inches of rain this week, I can only imagine how active Pearson’s Fall will be when I drive there today. Three years ago, I did this post, and I wanted to share it again, just in case you missed it the first time around. Enjoy.

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

Pearson's Falls in May

Each month, Pearson’s Falls near the town of Tryon, North Carolina, takes on a different persona. The rains have been infrequent this month, so the flow is reduced. The fresh green of the new foliage contrasts well with the ancient granite rocks.

Below Pearson's Falls

The creek below the main falls offers many smaller falls and cascades.

Pearson's Falls Gorge Wall

On the quarter mile walk to the falls, you will pass rock faces dripping with spring water. and covered with tender green plants.

Pearson's Falls Stone Bridge

A stone bridge over the creek offers the perfect place to stop and admire the breathtaking beauty of the gorge.

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Spring Sunset at Lake Lure

Sunset can be subtle, and this weekend proved that. Not much color, but a soft tranquility. Evidence of last fall’s fires is nonexistent on Rumbling Bald Mountain as it rises above the calm waters. Low humidity and cooler temperatures continue dominate. Sunday morning was 39 degrees in Otter Creek Valley five miles north of the lake.

Lake Lure Boathouse

Lake Lure Yacht Club Island bridgeThe bridge between Yacht Club Island and the main shore…

Lake Lure BoathousesLake Lure is known for it’s unique boathouses…

Lake Lure Rumbling Bald MountainRumbling Bald Mountain with waterfalls from recent rains…

Lake Lure SightseeingSightseeing on the lake….

The Song of the Whippoorwill

It just wouldn’t be spring in the Mountains without the melancholy call of the Whippoorwill well before sunrise. A member of the Nighthawk family, this small hunter feeds on flying insects, especially moths, and hides in the understory during the day. But every night from late April to early June, he has one thing in mind, finding a mate, and he competes with other hopefuls in the pitch and intensity of his song. Like clockwork, he begins long after sunset, and reaches his crescendo at the first light of dawn.

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John James Audubon watercolor of the Whippoorwill…….

This short video will feature the recent serenade captured from my deck well before sunrise. Turn the sound up and listen for all the other birds welcoming the morning. It’s a very special time of day, but it’s best you keep the windows closed if you want to sleep.

Laurel, Mountains, and Spring Flowers

Mid-May always brings a flurry of new growth and color along the Blue Ridge, and this year is no exception. 

Rooster 1

Red Hot Poker with showy spikes of tubular orange and yellow flowers. Native to South Africa, this durable wildflower is highly attractive to hummingbirds.

Mountain Laurel PinkThe Mountain Laurel is in the rhododendron and azalea family. In the distance is Hickorynut Mountain along the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

Mountain Laurel bouquet

Ragwort MeadowRagwort always adds a bright touch to mountain meadows.

Wolfpen Mountain EvergreensWolfpen Mountain is surrounded by every kind of evergreen tree.

Milkweed Thistle

Thistle Milkweed at Sunrise

Daisy Bouquet

Daises are found in meadows everywhere

Rumbling Bald Mt. Shumont in springAbove is 4,000 foot Mt. Shumont and Rumbling Bald Mountain where the “Party Rock” fire over Lake Lure was centered. The darker areas show fire damage, but the lower slopes have recovered very nicely. Below is a view from further north.

Mt. Shumont fire damage

Hemlock Christmas treesHemlock is not a popular choice for holiday trees, but don’t tell the growers at this Rutherford County tree farm. Years of pruning and shaping have created remarkable specimens that are much thicker than wild Carolina Hemlock.