Last October we drove home from Asheville NC going north along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We enjoyed the drive and DW was very impressed with the number of Rhododendron along the road. Since she loves gardening and flowers she insisted the we return in May to see the flowers. The Park website gives the bloom time for Rhododendron as June through early July which surprised me that it was that late and I wonder about the mild winter we have had. So are there any experienced people who can give us a good idea of the best time to see flowers this spring, particularly the Rhododendron along the parkway?
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05/06 Roadtrek 190 Popular
Best guess, and that's all it is, is that the bloom season will be a few days early this year, maybe a week to 10 days. That's if the weather holds. IMO, the best concentration of rhodies is on the top of Roan Mtn, off the P'way on the NC/TN border. IIRC, the high elevation causes the bloom season there to be about a week or two later than on the BRP.
A google search may show some web sites that provide an updated guesstimate on when the peak will be for both areas.
I may edit in a pic later.
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If you like the Rhododendron along the Blue Ridge parkway roads you gonna really like the Mountain Laurals.. They bloom in the higher elevations in the May and June time frame.
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@Handbasket is right: it's all luck, and can only be guessed at. Park Service estimates June, that's right for a normal year. Probably be early this year, but it'll only happen when the plants themselves say it's time.
That said, the normal date of last frost here in central Virginia is April 15. That's at 650 feet elevation, later up in the mountains, say 2,000-4,000 feet altitude. Things up there are normally 3-4 weeks behind down here.
But here, spring has already happened. LAST week, we had redbuds, dogwoods, azaleas, wisteria, crab apples, and spiria all blooming at once. In March. The dafodils, grape hyacinths, and even tulips are gone and done with. We harvested the first shoots of asparagus over the weekend. DC had to have their cherry blossom festival the weekend before that. I've never seen all that stuff so early, let alone all of it at once. My advice for catching the Rhododendron in a drive down (or up) the Blue Ridge Parkway is be prepared to go on a moment's notice, as that is all you are likely to get this year.
Thanks Guys, I'll copy your notes so I don't loose track of them and the feedback helps me think about it. Now I am thinking late May but will do a little more checking as the time nears. Maybe we'll go twice, not so bad.
We live at the base of Roan mountain, (Elev 3200 feet) and we are not too far from the BR Parkway.
Normally the first few weeks in June is the best for viewing at the higher elevations,(5000 and above) and at the lower elevations like the parkway, the last few weeks in May, but this year it has been so mild the experts are predicting they might be earlier.
Most of what you are seeing on the Blue ridge Parkway are not Rhododendron, but Great Laurel. They have a pinkish white bloom, and bloom every other year. Their leaves are larger than the the true Rhodendrons. the true Rodendrons have a purple bloom, and slightly smaller leaf. Head to the top of the Roan in early June, and you will see where the words "Purple mountain's majesty" comes from when the entire top is purple.
Then there is the smaller of the laurels which is my favorite that is Mountain Laurel and that also has a pinkish white flower that is in clusters.
I was at Craggy Gardens (17 miles north of Asheville on BRP @ 5600 ft) last night trying to get in a stargaze. It clouded over at dark, but I did notice that the purple (Catawba) rhododendron have a good start on their bloom season already. The laurels are also in bloom.
I'm going to see what I can find online later today about this year's peak bloom week on Roan Mtn. My guess is next week or the week after. That's my favorite flower viewing spot, and a nice overnight trip.
Jim, "Strong like a bull, smart like a fence post."
OK, OK, you got my interest. My Lady wants to see the flowers so I'm trying to plan a flower hunt. Meant to go earlier in the month but stuff got in the way. Looking at the map it seems like good spots to spend a couple of days to see the area would be Julian Price, Linville Falls, Crabtree Falls or Roan MT. St. Park TN. Are they all good or is any one preferred for flower viewing?
Assuming reservations can be made (festivals may have filled them) and that the trip is going to be in the next 2-3 wks, I'd suggest starting the trip with a night at Roan Mtn SP (TN), then most of a day at the rhodie gardens on top. Be aware that it's about 15-20 miles of steep up and down on narrow curvy mtn roads; use 2nd and low.
Come down from Roan Mtn on the NC side thru Bakersville & Spruce Pine. Stay the night at Spruce Pine's county CG (never been there, so this is not a recommendation), the Walmart (lots of loud mufflers), or Crabtree Meadows on the BRP (no hookups). Use that as a base to go north on the BRP one day, and south the next. Someone else may be able to suggest a private CG in the Spruce Pine area.
If interested, there's a very nice BRP gem, mineral, and mining museum at NC 226.
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