Appalachian spring


By MaryAnn

Wildflowers have always been some of my favorite plants. I’m particularly fond of trillium and lady slipper,  maybe because they’re not only native, but at the same time, exotic. My mother was my first teacher when it came to wild plants and gardening. We dug up pipsissewa and other common native plants which grew in abundance on our property and created dish gardens to take to my grandmother. In fact, pipsissewa was one of the first words I learned to say and spell.

Yellow Trillium
White Trillium

As I was driving along US 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in early April, I was awestruck  by the beauty of Appalachian spring. I know it happens every year, but I’m constantly and continually amazed at the soft greens, reds and pinks that color the trees and shrubs along the highway. The wildflowers were shamelessly exhibiting their full, glorious blooms. Both the yellow and the white trillium flourished in abundance all along the route, causing me to drive more slowly so I could enjoy them.

If you’re not familiar with the local flora, there are lots of resources available through your Fontana Regional Library.  Try a search for “wildflowers” and you’ll get a list of nearly 100 items. Pare that down to the ones that pertain to our geographical area, and you’ll still have plenty of information! There are books for children, books on landscaping with wildflowers, history and folklore, and field guides, too.

And if you like music, there’s always Aaron Copeland’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Appalachian Spring. Yes, there is a Pulitzer Prize for Music, and one has been awarded every year since 1943. Copeland’s ballet score, first presented at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  on October 30, 1944, won the prize in 1945.

The children’s book Ballet for Martha: making Appalachian Spring tells the story of the collaboration of dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, composer Aaron Copeland and artist Isamu Noguchi, who together create this American masterpiece.

For me, the season officially begins when I hear the spring peepers. Maybe because I grew up near an area locally known as “Frogtown”, hearing spring peepers always brings a smile to my face and the knowledge that winter is really over.  According to National Geographic, these small amphibians are rarely seen, but often heard throughout the Eastern US and parts of Canada, beginning mid-March.

Whether it’s spring flowers, spring music or spring peepers, enjoy your version of Appalachian spring!

6 thoughts on “Appalachian spring

  1. I’d love to hike with you MaryAnn — I’ve tried studying guide books, but the descriptions run together in my head and the real-life plants never quite match up with the full-color plates.

    It’d be wonderful to have a wise guide who could introduce me to the little jewels of the forest. Can you identify birds, too?


    • Sorry, Luke, but I’m not as good at birds. Maybe it’s because they move faster than wildflowers! But I’d be glad to give you a tour of wildflowers–even in my own yard. Just let me know…


  2. Hello,
    I still have a flowering bush that’s on my property that I have yet to name… it’s only been a couple of years.. maybe one of these years I’ll find the name.
    I have looked in our local library books and still can not find it.
    it’s pretty.


  3. I love wildflowers, too, MaryAnn, and have hiked quite a bit looking for them. Thanks for the reminder of one of the best parts of warm weather. A friend found a bank of painted trilliums last weekend and we’re talking of going back to see them this weekend, if the weather is good. Maybe a little pink shell azalea will be blooming, too.

    Margaret, Maybe you could post a picture of your plant and someone might recognize it. Probably not me, but there are several people in the Region who are into “schrubbery,” as Monty Python would have it. But I am curious and would like to see it, too.


    • Oh, Loretta! if you want to see pink shell azaleas, there’s a whole raft of them on both sides of the road between Cashiers and the SC line on 107 South. I know it’s a bit of a drive for you, but they were beautiful a couple of weekends ago when we went to Greenville. I’ve never seen so many in one place!


  4. Thanks, MaryAnn! I haven’t been that way in so long, I didn’t know they were there. They are so beautiful! I may not make it this year (we have the BRP trip going this weekend) before the blooms fall, but I will definitely put it on my list for next year!


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