Monday, March 31, 2008

Smoky Mountain Visitors Bureau To Host Herb & Wildflower Day In Townsend April 5th

Smoky Mountain Visitors Bureau To Host Herb Wildflower Day in Townsend

By Iva Butler
of The Daily Times Staff
With the wildflowers in peak bloom during April, the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau (SMCVB) is once again hosting Herb and Wildflower Day on April 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow locals and visitors not only to experience and enjoy the beauty of these wildflowers, but also to learn about the practical and medicinal uses of herbs and wildflowers that are found in East Tennessee.

"This is the seventh year for Herb and Wildflower Day, and it has become a great springtime tradition. People really enjoy learning new things about the wildflowers," said Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the SMCVB. "It's a fun and educational event that is great for the family. The mountains really show their true beauty during this celebration. It is so important for visitors to take advantage of this natural opportunity."

At 7:30 a.m. participants will gather at the front porch of the Townsend Visitors Center for a special tour along the Townsend bike path with wilderness wildlife recording expert, Mark Dunaway. Dunaway has an extensive background in avian communication, which explains how and why birds sing.

On the walk, Dunaway will be identifying common species found in the area along with any summer migrants that have returned to breed. Then he will be discussing tips for identifying birds and learning their songs.

"Once you become proficient in identifying birds through their songs, approximately 90 percent of the birds you will detect in a given outing will be by ear. During bird census work, the vast majority of birds that are recorded by ornithologists are detected by ear," said Dunaway.

Dunaway currently specializes in recordings made inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, mostly recording bird songs, particularly those erupting from the Cades Cove area.

The day will continue at 9 a.m., with a talk about the spring wildflowers by senior botanist for the TVA Heritage Program, Dr. Patricia Cox. In addition to talking about some of our more common showy wildflowers, Cox will discuss some of Tennessee's rarest wildflowers and why protecting the plants as well as the plants' habitat is so important. She will also talk about steps that can be taken to help with conservation measures to prevent the loss of these species from our native flora.

Then, at 9:45 a.m., Meredith Clebsch, owner of Native Gardens, a Greenback nursery that grows and sells native plants, will speak about how to garden with plants native to the area. Since 1983, Clebsch and her husband have been operating Native Gardens in Loudon County, where they offer more than 200 different plant species.

At 10:30 a.m., Dunaway will return to give a presentation on planting for the birds. The talk will instruct people on how to create and enhance a backyard habitat for birds through plantings, shelter, food, and water sources.

During lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., visitors will be able to purchase plants, baked goods and pottery as well as view gardening demonstrations.

"We won't be providing lunch, but we encourage visitors to grab a quick bite from one of the Townsend eateries or purchase some fresh bread from Marjie Richardson, owner of The Bakery Lady, a local, home-style bakery in Seymour," said Jeanie Hilten, special events coordinator for the SMCVB.

After lunch, from 1:30 to 5 p.m., Dunaway will be signing copies of the audio CD set, "Bird Songs of the Smokies," which is a soundtrack to the bird sounds in the Smoky Mountain. Each recording was made in the park and offers listeners a detailed narration in how to find the specific birds.

During this time, visitors will also be able to choose between two different hikes that will last from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. or a longer hike that will last until 5 p.m. All hikes are in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"Ferns and Flowers Stroll," led by Cox; on Chestnut Top trail is a moderate 2-mile hike that can be very narrow in places, so participants are asked to wear sturdy shoes. While on this hike, Cox will focus on ferns and other wildflowers. Some of the wildflowers visitors can expect to see will include bluets, dwarf ginseng, fire pink, little brown jug, Solomon's seal, Solomon's plume, several species of trillium, and wild ginger, just to name a few. Additionally, ferns are abundant including Christmas fern, maidenhair fern, maidenhair spleenwort, marginal shield fern and others.

"The Chestnut Top Trail has one of the most spectacular displays of wildflowers and ferns of any trail in the Smokies. If you have never been on this trail, it is amazing and you will love it," said Cox.

Visitors can also choose to take part in the Tremont area walk called "Bees and Blooms," led by Dr. Jim Lowe, a forest entomologist. The Tremont area is home to a former pioneer Appalachian community and logging town. The hike, considered easy along the wide, flat trail, follows a large stream, which features several scenic cascades and a four tiered waterfall at the end.

Or, visitors can take a nature hike to White Oak Sinks, led by Jim Burbank, a national park volunteer and expert in wildlife management. This popular trail features 60 different species of wildflowers along a moderately difficult 2.6-mile trail. Some of the wildflowers you can see along this route include yellow lady's slipper, Columbine and shooting stars.

"White Oak Sinks is a special place in the Smokies, furnishing a great variety of flowers -- at least three species difficult to find elsewhere in the Park, a 'blow-hole' cave, and a disappearing waterfall," said Burbank. "The hike is moderately difficult but well worth the effort."

Throughout the day, visitors can purchase baked goods from The Bakery Lady, which include home-made bread, sweet rolls, cookies and pies.

Additionally, Stringtown Pottery, a Townsend pottery shop, will have items for sale relating to the day's theme of herb and wildflowers. Honey Rock Herb Farm and Native Gardens will also have plants for sale so visitors can buy a plant and a planter to take home.
Article Courtesy of The Daily Times - Maryville TN

Photo by C. Gilliam Heavenly Cabins
See Last Minute Cabin Openings for this weekend 4/4- 4/7/08 - Come to The Herb & Wildflower Day in Townsend TN, enjoy a cozy cabin with awesome Smoky Mountain Views.