Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oconee Bells

With a charged battery in the camera and a break in the rain, it was a good time to go back and visit a delightful native plant garden in Lake Junaluska Assembly. I think Siria mentioned this garden in a comment here some time ago. A online conversation with the author of an article about gardening after fifty in the Mountain Xpress was what made me remember and go find this garden.

Lake Junaluska Assembly is a Methodist retreat and retirement center. The native garden is dedicated to the wife of one of the community's members, Bishop Bryan.

I wanted to come back soon because one of the most infamous plants in all botanical history was in this garden and blooming. No, not the Bluebells, Mertensia virginica.

Shortia galacifolia, Oconnee Bells is a plant most folks will only read about. It was a rare plant when it was first discovered and still rare when it was rediscovered a hundred years later.

Apparently it is easy to bring into cultivation if you have Shortia's preferred woodland habitat.

Nursery propagated plants should be relatively easy to find and I can add this evergreen native plant that signals the arrival of spring to my own garden.

The Trilliums had also begun to bloom in the garden.

This group of Little Sweet Betsy, Trillium cuneatum wasn't so little.

Some Little Sweet Betsy for Betsys Gap might be in order too. There are four species of Trillium here that I have counted. Another one with mottled leaves and a deep maroon flower can't hurt.

This is a garden definitely worth visiting again as the seasons progress. It is only now waking up and the plant tags throughout the garden promise an extensive collection. I should bring the resident gardeners because I don't think they have ever been to this garden. I can hear them now, "We have this. We have that. Oh look don't we have some of those. We need to get that. We have some of those. Some of those would be nice."


lola said...

Thanks for the tour Christopher. I'm sure the resident gardener would really like that tour.
I haven't seen some of those plants. The trillium's are fantastic. I only saw a few of the smaller ones growing in the woods. I think they are very pretty.

chuck b. said...

Lovely! I don't have nearly enough woodland goodies in my garden.

-Tri- said...

Hey, you said the plant is easily find in nursery. I can not find any. I am a research student in the biology program at a university up north in New York. I try to find this plant since I am native to NC. Do you happen to know where I can find one for sale in a nursery. Thanks alot.

Christopher C. NC said...

Well Tri I googled for Shortia and after a bit found a nursery in Oregon that will mail order to you.