Welcome to the Blue Wall Weekly, your source for what's going on outside along the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Feel free to share your own photos, videos, and adventures along the Blue Wall, and we'll do our best to make you (locally) famous!
The Queen is blooming. She flowers profusely, lighting the ever-deepening shade of the mountainside understory with blossoms ranging from white to delicate pink to an arousing shade of deeper pink. She is hard to ignore, this Queen of Shrubs. She has not been content to remain at her streamside habitat; now she wanders up the mountainsides to see what the view might be from high ridges. We know her by curvaceous limbs in other seasons when her blooms have faded away, and by evergreen leaves which lend welcome color to Winter’s landscape. Her flowers are cupped, held open by pollen-laden stamens like the spokes of a wheel, and her remarkable beauty holds to close inspection. We might call her by familiar names: mountain laurel, mountain ivy, calico-bush, but her true name is Kalmia latifolia. She is regal, and she is in full bloom now across the base of the Blue Wall.~K
The Queen of flowering mountain shrubs, Kalmia latifolia, aka mountain laurel
WITH JOCASSEE LAKE TOURS
FULL MOON RISING TOUR
May 10: 6:00 - 8:30 PM
BROOKS' ADVENTURE SUNDAYS!
KAYAK TOUR, LOWER LAKE
May 21: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
PLEASE CALL 864-280-5501 AT LEAST 24 HOURS IN ADVANCE TO RESERVE YOUR SEATS!
WITH JOCASSEE LAKE TOURS
EVERY WEDNESDAY TOUR - Guide's Choice!
May 3: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
EVERY SATURDAY TOUR - Lower Lake
May 6: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Late April to early May is peak season for the migration of songbirds to the Jocassee Gorges. It’s a dynamic, colorful, musical time for a few short weeks, and there is nobody better to tell the story of this avian season than Tim Lee, SC Park Naturalist for the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. The talk is free and open to the public. There will be an optional birding tour on Lake Jocassee for current FOJ members at 7am.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Children will learn the basics of vegetable gardening and, specifically, how to grow salsa ingredients. We’ll make and taste salsa, and participants will leave with starter plants and salsa recipes.
Keep Oconee Beautiful Association (KOBA) is partnering with the World of Energy for an Earth Day-in-May festival, highlighting our shared responsibility to take care of our piece of the planet. Butterfly garden tours, science of vermiculture, honeybees in action, demonstrations on taking care of our watershed, arts & crafts, vendors and more.
It’s May already, this coming Monday. How did that happen? Things usually move along rather slowly for us in the winter (except when our website crashes, which it did this winter!), then boom, you look up, it's warm, the trees are full of leaves, the water is almost swimmable. It’s enough to boggle the mind. People are getting antsy to get in the water, not just on the water. I know the feeling. By late afternoon the lake water temperature is making 70 degrees. If it’s sunny and the air temperature is at or near 80, then oh yeah, it time for immersion. But this week it’s been raining a lot, and that’s a good thing, a wonderful thing to be exact. The waterfalls are booming, the rivers are running strong, the lake has come up 3 feet in the last 10 days. I even saw some jet skis on the lake yesterday, which is not a good thing, but let’s save that conversation for another time. Why muss up a perfectly fine spring day.
BLOOM REPORT Fraser magnolia, mountain laurel (the Queen of Shrubs!), short-leaf rhododendron, black locust, alternate-leaf dogwood, doghobble, Solomon seal, branch lettuce, tulip poplar, cross vine, blackberry (blackberry winter is yet to come!)
RAVEN REPORT In the Devils Fork parking lot, jumping from pick-up truck to pick-up truck, looking for an easy meal. A raven! Up close, they are nearly the size of a buzzard. I tried to get a good picture, but my pitiful cell phone camera just wasn’t up to the task. You’ll just have to believe me on this one!~B
DID YOU KNOW?
Kalmia latifolia was named by Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, whose system of naming, ranking, and classifying organisms is still in wide use today. The shrub was named for Finnish botanist Pehr Kalm, one of Linnaeus' early students, who was sent to the North American colonies in 1747 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to gather seeds and plants that might be useful for agriculture. While here, he was befriended by Benjamin Frankin and fellow botanist John Bartram.
ABOUT THE BLUE WALL
Spanning three states (North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) and encompassing 859,000 acres, the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment, known as the 'Blue Wall' by Native Americans, contains some of the highest natural diversity of rare plants and animals found anywhere in the world.