A Most Beautiful and Busy Season

We’ve reached the point in spring where all the trees are almost fully in leaf. They still have their young colors, so there’s an amazing kaleidoscope of different shades of green in the woods, especially at sunrise or sunset.

The native azalea (flame azalea) is in bloom. Like the dogwood, it doesn’t seem to be having a banner year, but there are lots of beautiful plants. I expect the azalea and dogwood to stay in bloom through the weekend, but after that, I imagine that there will be a decline. I’ve seen a few lady slippers in our neighborhood, and the indigo bunting has returned. So we’re arrived at that point I call high spring, about to move into summer.

This is a busy time in the mountains, and there’s lots to report on today.

The Mennonite Farmer’s Market in Delano is open six days already. They had a good variety of produce last Friday, and they were predicting the first strawberries would come in about a week from tomorrow. The strawberries create the first big frenzy over there, with their wonderful hybrid corn providing the second, early in the summer.

The Downtown Blue Ridge Farmer’s Market is open Saturday morning in the downtown park. Look for the craft and produce booths across from the courthouse. Officially, it’s over at 1:00 PM, but as with any such market, it is good to go early.

The Blue Ridge Master Gardeners are having their annual plant sale Saturday, in the United Community Bank parking lot next to the Burger King, starting at 9:00 AM. This is usually a good chance to get some native plants for landscaping, as well as some expert advice on how to grow things.

Michelle Malone is playing the Blue Ridge Community Theater Friday night. Call 706.632.9223 or hit their website for more information and tickets.

Next to the Georgia Mountain Fair in Hiawassee, the Rhodendron Festival is scheduled for this weekend at Hamilton Gardens. They suggest that you check their website before going, as they don’t always bloom on time. When I went to the website just now to look at the “Bloom O Meter” it seems to indicate that they are not yet in bloom, but I don’t expect it to be too long before they start to bloom.

We didn’t make it to the Polk County Ramp Festival, so I can’t report on that. But I was able to get some ramps. With the late spring, they are smaller than usual at this point, and I believe they are unusually potent. I like them best just raw, alongside whatever else I’m eating, and I am especially fond of the leaves. If you happen to run into them for sale anywhere, I’d urge you to try them, so long as you like onions and leeks.

I read an interesting story about the Brood II cicadas this morning in the New York Times. Like the other broods, they are on a 17 year cycle, and this is their year. They are also one of the biggest broods. These are the red-eyed critters that we call locusts locally. I’m not sure from looking at the maps if we have this brood here – it looks like their range is south into northern North Carolina – and I can’t remember exactly the last time we had a brood hatch out. I know it has been less than ten years, so it wasn’t this brood that I remember here.


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