Rhododendron are one of the most gorgeous schrubs in the Great Smoky Mountains…one of the largest I think is 19 feet. These bloom around June,
July and August,…depending on the elevations. I live in the lower Foothills of the Smoky Mountains of TN….photographed them from the mature woodland ajoining the park, we being the Descendents of Gourleys from Cades Cove… My Father in Law was born to Myrtle Gregory and James Gourley, from Cades Cove, once a remote place, now part of the National Park, The Rhododendron are one of the most popular wildflowers, rose, to purple, dramatic blooms easily seen because they grow well on exposed ridges at 3,000 to 6000 feet in elevation. Ridges of the Rhododendron were known to mountain people as laurel slicks, or to botanist as heath balds. I didn’t know what Botany was when I was in school, but I love plants, and perhaps I would have taken the subject. What I learned was just from experience, or the love of working with plants and planning beautiful garden, and doing it, except on a grand scale. There are grand displays of the dwarf rhododendron with the smaller leaves, in masses on Thunderhead Mountain hikes to Rocky Top Tennessee, starting at Cades Cove. Spectacular displays of the closely growing, dwarf schrubs on narrow ridges such as Myrtle Point on Mt. Le Conte. These Rhododendron grow close to the ground, about 3 or 4 feet in height. I didn’t hike to the highest peaks in the Smokies, but have encountered a bear rolling down a hill, and a few Copperhead, poisonous snakes, don’t wear flip flops, on a hike. The property at Gourleys, and all of W. Millers Cove, ajoins the Foothills Parkway, which is a senic drive where views can be seen over the entire face of Tennessee. Family gave up land when the National Park was formed. The Foothills Parkway has been one of the oldest projects in TN to be finished. ///The Rhododendron caught my eye, they were so beautiful…. I had a very large schrub, that lived for years in the hot sun, not shaded, but it must have gotten plenty of water from the underground, gutter pipe. After a groundhog was chased by a dog that dug a hole under the Rhododendron Bush, it started dying. I know they need plenty of water, but drained off, and you can not get the roots, with the branches too deep. One of the first mistakes I made planting some around a watergarden. Enjoy my watergardens, and pictures of everything at Gourley Garden, as well as a few of the Smokies from W. Millers Cove, and some from Cades Cove, in the GSMNP. I always thought I was fortunate to live in the Great Smoky Mountains. I learned to work hard and do the things I enjoy most. The White Rhododendron, to the shell pink bloomed, grow deep in forests, along sreams, and in moist soils at all Park elevaions, called the Rosebay Rhododendron.
The most gorgeous wildflower schrub in the Great Smoky Mouontains National Park, Rhododendrons, / History of Gourley family from Cades Cove