Monday, June 8, 2009

A Walk Through the Laurel

The mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) just happens to be one of my favorite native perennials. An evergreen, it provides deep green foliage all winter. And in the spring, it blooms in abundance in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While technically a shrub, some laurels grow as big as 40 feet. It is a wonder to behold, growing along the hills and rocks along the roads.

One of our favorite sites for viewing Mountain Laurel is a short trail near Caesar's Head State Park in South Carolina. While the trail is not an energy-consuming hike, it is a very peaceful and lovely place to wander slowly observing nature.

We actually don't need to go away from our house to view the lovely Mountain Laurel. Our property is loaded with them. Here is one near our house.

Whenever I walk through the laurel thickets, a song my gramma taught me always runs through my mind. I didn't bother to look it up, but the words I remember are these:
Like the Mountain Laurel in the grove dear,
My love is, it's evergreen.
Like the Mountain Laurel finds the grove dear,
I'll find you again.
Where the mountain breezes blow
There's a place I long to go,
You'll be waiting there I know
In the pines, and we'll climb
Into the hills we knew in days gone by,
When your heart was gay and so was I,
And we'll find the love we left behind
Long ago...long ago.

Today, the Mountain Laurel is valued for its twisting vine-like branches. They are used to make bannisters on porches and decks, even inside the houses.


Rae said...

Very pretty and inviting. Makes me want to be able to take a mountain hike.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Oh Carolyn, I LOVE the Mountain Laurel too. I've never seen it as pretty as it is this year... Guess it was the rains!!!!

We don't have many here (we've got one bush in our yard --but it is small and not as healthy as the 'wild' ones.

Thanks for your gorgeous photos.

Ruth said...

I have never seen Mountain Laurel and your pictures are beautiful!! I doubt it grows in the wild this far north.

KB said...

Mountain Laurel is gorgeous! I especially like the way it lines the trails. I have a vague recollection of a very similar looking flowering shrub in New England, but I'm not certain if it was Mountain Laurel.

You live in a very beautiful and peaceful place.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I've never seen mountain laurel either. I can't immagine seeing whole mountainsides in bloom.

Anonymous said...


I'm going to order one this fall and beg it to grow here in Charlotte.

grammy said...

Loved the pictures. It is still cold and rainy here. I want sunshine.

troutbirder said...

Oh my. I wish we had some of those on our hillsides as well.

Cedar ... said...

I know I must see the Blue Ridge Mountains Turning Green (old Ronnie Milsap song) and all that beautiful mountain laurel. I must have been a southern mountain woman in another lifetime!

George said...

I've long wanted to visit Caesar's Head State Park and you've now given me yet another reason to go. I love mountain laurel.

D.K. Wall said...

I do enjoy the laurel and we saw the blooms all bursting out this weekend on our hikes. If they have the paving under control, may have to go up to Craggy next weekend because it should be at or near peak up there.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Your Laurel's are like our Lilacs! Thanks for sharing a lovely shrub! :)

Dawn Fine said...

I was just looking at some mountain laurel today! Did you know the flowers have a sticky back? as kids we used to take a single flower and press it on our clothing.

Jeannette StG said...

Beautiful, beautiful pics - wants me to go an make a visit there!

Jayne said...

So very beautiful. Love the song lyrics too. :c)

Coffee with Cathy said...

Carolyn -- When we lived in east Tennessee close to the mountains, I loved hiking and coming up unexpectedly on laurel-lined archways such as these. Thank you so much for reminding us of the beauty that's right outside our doors.

Cicero Sings said...

Lovely ... I also have never seen these,

Unseen India Tours said...

So Beautiful !! Would Like To Go There SomeDay..Great Post

Cheryl said...

Said it before...will say it again....I love where you live.

Laurel are such wonderful shrubs/ the mountain laurel fragrant?
I grow laurel in the garden and the flowers smell of almonds....I absolutely adore it.....

Shelley said...

That mountain laurel poem was beautiful and went great with your lovely photos!! that looks exactly like the type of trail I would love to take a hike on!

Unknown said...

As always, your pictures are incredible! Thanks for sharing!

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks everyone.

Thundering - We were on the Parkway this week, and some of the rhododendrons are blooming so Craggy should be just about peak next week.

Unseen - Thanks for dropping by.

Dawn - Oh, yeah! We know about the sticky backs. Our dogs come in with their paws, tails, and undersides covered with blossoms.

Cheryl - No the laurel are not fragrant which might be a good thing. They are found in such profusion they would likely be overwhelming, like too much perfume.