Unaka Mountain summit hike, red spruce

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I found this lovely hike on a blog called Appalachian Treks, which I love. The focus is in my region, and he keeps detailed directions and a customized Google map that is super helpful for me when trying to choose a hike near my current location. Also, his photos are so pretty it makes me want to get outside NOW. So I did.

The interesting thing about this hike is that it doesn’t culminate in a scenic overlook or a waterfall, as most hikes around here. Instead, it’s a beautiful old stand of red spruce (shown in two pictures above). Aside from it being a Monday escape from the world into the cool mountains on a hot day, it was pretty amazing because of all the spring ephemeral wildflowers – spring beauty, bluets, trillium, trout lilies, the works. I’m going to have to bring my wildflower guide next time, and maybe a better camera. You can find the directions to this hike (as well as some gorgeous photos) on Appalachian Treks.

 

Catching a Swarm…On the Ground?!

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I got to go along to try to catch a swarm this Mother’s Day, which is always exciting.

However, this is NOT what a bee swarm is supposed to look like. They’re supposed to be up on a branch or somewhere else up in the air making a big, beautiful, slightly intimidating ball. After much googling all I’ve found is that the queen is either a) injured and incapable of going higher up, which is very bad, or b) has landed long enough to leave her smell there, which has totally confused the swarm following her and they have gathered here to be with her smell. Also not good.

I couldn’t find anything that actually advises one on what to do in this situation, so J decided to just stick a hive box on top and see if they feel like moving into it. We’ll see what happens!

 

UPDATE: The hive did stay around and seems to be doing well. Weird, huh?

 

 

May flowers

Top left is a Banshee rose from High Country Roses. I bought it along with a Madame Hardy (not blooming yet) and a Graham Thomas. The Graham Thomas grew huge, then vining, then bloomed with beautiful pink flowers. Since this is a shrub rose with yellow flowers, I got in touch with the company and they were super nice (and very surprised! We had fun speculating about what my mystery rose is.) They shipped me a new Graham Thomas straight away. I’m looking forward to seeing that next spring, but there are plenty of blooms to count on this year as well.

The chive blossoms came out just before the roses, around the end of April. Every time I see them I think I need more of them. I’ve been reading that some people use them to visually complement their roses, and also as a natural pest repellent. Perhaps I’ll sow a bunch of it around Mme Hardy. She sure takes a beating in that department.