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ATP Podcast #108: Plants of the Smoky Mountains

By dave
May 4, 2017

We recently took a trip to East Tennessee to visit the Smoky Mountains National Park, and in this podcast we will discuss our thoughts about the plants that grow in the Appalachian Mountains.

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Name: Treehugger
Hanover Twp, PA (Zone 6a)
Region: United States of America Region: Northeast US Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Miniature Gardening Herbs
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Hostas Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Frogs and Toads Hummingbirder
treehugger
May 5, 2017 5:45 AM CST
It is so nice to see the whole family enjoying our native parks.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
May 5, 2017 6:46 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

As much as we can! We love hiking and camping and just enjoying the NPs.
I do believe it's our favorite type of vacation Thumbs up
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
May 5, 2017 9:54 AM CST
I especially loved this podcast because of your vacation location. The Great Smoky Mountain Nat'l Park is one of my very favorite places!

Having grown up in coastal Virginia and living in Florida since I was a teenager, I had never seen a mountain until my husband and I visited the Smokies for the first time in the mid 1970's. I fell in love with the beauty and serenity of those mountains and every time we've visited since ... it always feels like I've come home! Lovey dubby

The Roaring Fork motor nature trail is a really pretty drive and so different at different seasons. The roadway is closed during the winter months due to icy conditions but a drive in spring can be totally different than in summer ... sometimes the water is quiet and serene while other times after rains, it's really roaring ... so beautiful!

I loved hearing about the plants you saw along the trails and oh my, it was scary when you talked about Jon leaving the trail and going down the mountainside into a valley! I'd worry about rattlesnakes and bears! I hope the stinging nettles he came in contact with didn't cause too much irritation ... but better that encounter, than one with a mama bear. Green Grin! Although we have black bears here in Florida, I'd never seen one in the wild until a spring time trip to the Smokies years ago when we saw a mama bear with 3 cubs! It was very early morning and we were driving on Sparks Lane in Cades Cove. I had my husband stop the car so I could get out and take pictures of a deer eating something in the middle of the road. Something in my mind kept saying "What would be in the center of the road that the deer would be eating"? Sparks Lane is a very narrow roadway (difficult for two cars to pass) and in this area there were a couple of trees on each side of the road, with leafy branches hanging out over the roadway and a little stream that crossed the road. Well, I was walking towards this deer taking pictures and suddenly my husband yelled at me "Lin, A Bear, A Bear!" I could tell by the tone in his voice that he was not joking so I ran back to the car and jumped in. By then, the deer had run off and a large bear was coming down the tree right in front of the car! It was snorting and making all sorts of noises, looking up at the tree and then back at us. A little cub came down the tree, then another ... and finally after a few minutes, another and they all ran across the road into a thicket of trees along the stream. We've seen bears a couple of times when visiting the Smokey's, always in the Cades Cove area and a park ranger once who told us that 3 cubs is unusual, that in normal years only one or two cubs are born but when seasons have plentiful fruit and berries, sometimes there will be three. It was such an awesome experience and funny because I never thought to look up in the trees for a bear ... don't know why I just thought they'd be moseying along the ground. Rolling on the floor laughing Now, whenever we go to the Smoky Mountains National Park, I'm always looking up in hopes of spotting a bear!

I wondered if y'all made the climb all the way to Clingman's Dome ... that's something I've never attempted, even when I was young; I thought I'd probably get up there and not be able to make it back down the mountain. Green Grin!

Thanks so much for this month's podcast, sharing information and photos of all the diverse plants of that region as well as the pictures of your lovely family!

~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 5, 2017 10:06 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

I enjoyed your story, Lin. We were hoping to see bears this time but never did, despite all eyes constantly scanning the trees. Smiling

Some people say the roaring fork road is scary to drive. I didn't find it scary but then again mountain driving was never a problem for me. For sure, there are places where there's only about 6 inches room before you plunge down a steep several hundred foot drop. I can see how some could have concerns about that. The roaring creeks everywhere was just perfect. We spent a lot of time hanging around in the creeks, letting everyone wander around.

The climb to Clingman's Dome wasn't as bad as you may think. It's paved all the way up. Just take frequent breaks and nearly anyone could make it. Here's a view from up there:

Thumb of 2017-05-05/dave/ff7be9

We really loved the trail behind Noah Ogle's home. A rich forest with lots of water, and an easy short walk. It felt like we were in a Lord of the Rings movie.

Thumb of 2017-05-05/dave/03c0b1 Thumb of 2017-05-05/dave/14e72c

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 5, 2017 10:08 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Climbing Clingman's Dome. The entire "trail" to the top looks like this.

Thumb of 2017-05-05/dave/a2ee40

Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
May 5, 2017 11:27 AM CST
Those photos are really wonderful, y'all are making wonderful family vacation memories that I know your children will cherish. What a view from Clingman's Dome! Maybe next time we go up there I'll give the Clingman's Dome hike a try but I prefer the trails through the woods, like the one behind the Ogle cabin which is really nice. I like the trail behind the Sugarland's Visitor Center too.

Gosh, seeing your photos sure makes me want to take a trip back to the Smokies!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America
Purslane Garden Art Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: North Carolina Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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vic
May 6, 2017 9:39 AM CST
GREAT podcast - and only 2 hours from home - had I known, I would have driven over to give y'all a hug.

Been there so many times and we love it. Have done Clingmans Dome a few times and many many of the trails. We seen a bear too. Love the whole area and we even honeymooned there 48 years ago Green Grin!

All your photo's are so beautiful - the family as well as all the nature shots.

Thank You!
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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plantcollector
May 6, 2017 4:37 PM CST
I'm so glad to hear you guys made it to my neck of the wood. I work for the city of pigon forge. Its almost heard to tell a fire storm came though about 6 months ago. Roring fork just recently opened do to the fires. You mentioned going to grotto to falls. I wish you would have gone on up to rainbow falls it is one of my favorite hikes. We are planning a hike to gregorys bald in June to see the flame azaleas.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 6, 2017 4:56 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

We would have loved to see you, Vic. Now I wish I had let you know we would be in the area. I knew you were close but didn't realize it was only 2 hours. I thought it was more like 4 hours. (It takes so long to get anywhere on those twisty roads!)

Heath, I was surprised by how little the fires have affected the natural beauty of the area. When we learned of the fires we were absolutely sick and then twice as determined to visit, in order to throw our support behind the community. The whole region is alive and well and recovering nicely. We really wanted to do rainbow falls but the main concern was our 3 year old who has to walk. We didn't feel like she was ready for a longer walk. Really the grotto falls pushed the limits of her capabilities. Next time we're in the area with older children we'll definitely do rainbow falls.
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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plantcollector
May 6, 2017 5:56 PM CST
You were right not to do rainbow falls. My 10 year old daughter has a hard time with it and we have been hikeing these trials since she was born. Where did you guys stay while you were here?
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 6, 2017 8:41 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

We stayed in a cabin in Gatlinburg on Park Vista Way. It was a little expensive but had a beautiful view of the mountains and was extremely convenient to both gatlinburg and pigeon forge (via Dudley Creek Rd) so it worked perfectly for us. The fires nearly took all the cabins in that little area but this gem of an area was spared. The shrubs in the landscaping immediately surrounding our cabin were burned!!
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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plantcollector
May 6, 2017 9:14 PM CST
Yes that area got hit pretty bad. did you see the videos where the people were stuck at the Park Vista Motel. The fire department couldn't get up that road because so many trees and fallen across the road and everything was on fire.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 6, 2017 9:37 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I did indeed see those videos. We watched as much of it as we could, as it was happening. Trish in particular was very upset about what was happening to the area. The Park Vista hotel (a place I have fond memories of as a child) was a terrifying video.

This is the one that really got to me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
May 7, 2017 7:31 AM CST
Crying Fire is so scary, I can't even imagine having to drive through something like that to escape!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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plantcollector
May 7, 2017 8:31 AM CST
We went up there about a week after the fire and everything was gone. Did you guys drive though Gntty Branch rd and Wiley Oakley Dr. Those two road are on the spar that connects pigon forge and Gatlinburg.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Image
dave
May 7, 2017 12:38 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

No, we didn't go down any of those roads.
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
plantcollector
May 8, 2017 3:43 PM CST
Gntty Branch was one of the roads those guys were on in the video that area was the worst hit. But anyways I'm glad y'all had fun. It is a beautiful area.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
May 8, 2017 4:01 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I agree
Name: wayne
memphis (Zone 7b)
Keeper of Poultry Region: Tennessee
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wayne
May 12, 2017 9:09 AM CST
plantcollector said:We went up there about a week after the fire and everything was gone. Did you guys drive though Gntty Branch rd and Wiley Oakley Dr. Those two road are on the spar that connects pigon forge and Gatlinburg.


My parents took a drive through the area right after the fires as well. I know mom took pictures I need to ask her to send them to me. It will be interesting to look back on them in a couple of years as things (hopefully) rebound.

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