More Smoky Mountain Wildflowers

I just got back from another wonderful week of photographing wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I came home with about 130 GB of photos – so it’s going to take me a while to get them weeded and edited.

One of the wonderful aspects of spring wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains is the incredible combinations of wildflowers that can be seen growing together in the park. In January, I posted a few photos of wildflower combinations from my 2008 trip. Here are some of my favorite combinations of wildflowers from my April 2009 trip to Tennessee.

First is a hillside of yellow trillium (trillium luteum) and purple phacelia (phacelia bipinnatifida). The Yellow Trillium are found throughout the Smoky Mountains. I found this patch surrounded by purple phacelia along River Road.

yellow_trillium_purple_phacelia_6058_nofYellow Trillium and Purple Phacelia (c) 2009 Patty Hankins

Next is a patch of crested dwarf irises (iris cristata)  and star chickweed (stellaria pubera) around the base of a tree. I photographed these flowers along the side of the road in the Greenbrier section of the Smokies, just before the start of the Old Settlers Trail.

iris_and_star_chickweed_6254Crested Dwarf Irises and Star Chickweed (c) 2009 Patty Hankins

Finally, a showy orchis (galearis spectabilis) in front of a patch of crested dwarf irises (iris cristata) along the Ash Hopper Trail.

iris_and_showy_orchis_6801(c) 2009 Patty Hankins

I hope my photos can give you a sense of the incredible beauty of the wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I’ve fallen totally in love with the wildflowers and the park. And even though I’ve only been home for a couple of days, I’m already trying to figure out when I can get back to what has quickly become my favorite national park.

Trillium Cuneatum

This spring, I photographed a type of trillium that I have been having a hard time identifying. I think I’ve finally got it tenatively identified as Trilllium Cuneatum. While several of my wildflower reference books had descriptions of similar trillium, the plants were referred to by several different names, including Toadshade Trillium, Sweet Betsy Trillium, Hugher’s Trillium and Toad Trillium. Usually I’m able to match my photographs with reference photos for a positive idenficiation – but this time I couldn’t find any that look just like my photos.

I finally found a post on the Rurality blog with photos of several differenct Trillium Cuneatum and in every photo, the plant is different. Given the variety of ways that Trillium Ceneatum appears – no wonder I was having trouble identifing it.

Here are a few photos of Trillium Cuneatum. They were taken in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee near Bald River Falls earlier this year.

As you can see, the flowers on the trillium stand straight up, similar to the Yellow Trillium (trillium luteum). The leaves are shades of green.


(c) 2009 Patty Hankins


(c) 2009 Patty Hankins


(c) 2009 Patty Hankins


(c) 2009 Patty Hankins

trillium_cuneatum_chernat_3226(c) 2009 Patty Hankins

If I’ve got this trillium mididentified, please let me know. I’m pretty sure it’s Tillium Cuneatum, but it’s quite possible that it’s another type of trillium.

Vasey’s Trillium – Trillium Vaseyi

I’m just back from a fantastic trip to Tennessee where I spent more than a week photographing the spring wildflowers. The wildflowers are incredible this year. 2009 was the second year in a row that I’ve attended the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Last year, I photographed a couple of different types of trillium – the Sweet White Trillium and the Yellow Trillium. This year, I was able to photograph three additional trilliums – Vasey’s Trillium, Catesby’s Trillium and Sweet Betsy Trillium.

Here are some of my photos of the Vasey’s Trillium. These flowers were photographed along the Ash Hopper Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These three Vasey’s Trillium were the only ones I saw all week – and believe me I was looking for them.

Vasey’s Trillium (Trillium vaseyi) are easy to identify. They are the trilliums with the red flowers that hang below the leaves.

The blossoms of the Vasey’s Trillium


(c) 2009 Patty Hankins


(c) 2009 Patty Hankins

Side view of the blossom

vaseys_trillium_6969(c) 2009 Patty Hankins

Side view of the Vasey’s Trillium- the leaves on this trillium can grow quite large


(c) 2009 Patty Hankins

And finally – a Vasey’s Trillium from above

vaseys_trillium_6984(c) 2009 Patty Hankins

I’ll be posting more wildflower photographs from the Smokies in the next few weeks. I had a wonderful time in TN and took lots (and lots) of photos.

Smoky Mountain Streams

On our trip to the Smoky Mountains last spring, Bill and I spent some time photographing the streams along Newfound Gap Road. We were amazed at the power of the water rushing down the mountains, and how green and lush all the vegetation was.

Here’s one of the streams

Smoky Mountain Stream (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

Further down the mountain, we came across a pair of streams that created a small pair of waterfalls as the streams joined together. We spent almost an hour photographing this one location.

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

At one point, the water created a small waterfall over some tree roots.

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

This was just a few of the streams we photographed last spring. We’re both still processing our photos from the trip – I’m sure as we work our way through the photos, I’ll be posting more photos of some of the streams.

Bald River Falls

Bald River Falls (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

On my recent trip to Tennessee, one of the places I was able to do some photography was at Bald River Falls. Located on FR 210 in the Cherokee National Forest, the falls are located along the Bald River just before it flows into the Tellico River. The falls are between 80 and 100 feet high.

Between the gorgeous fall color and the rushing water from the recent rains, the falls were spectacular the morning I was there.

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

Bald River Falls are very easy to photograph. Both of my photos were taken from the bridge over the river. There’s a small parking lot just past the bridge on FR 210. All I had to do was park there, and walk back a few hundred yards for a gorgeous view of the falls.

After photographing the falls from the bridge, I headed down to the river bank. Just under the bridge, the Bald River flows into the Tellico River. The fall color along the Tellico River was amazing.

Along the Tellico River (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

Bald River Falls is very easy to find. From Tellico Plains, TN, take Hwy 165 – the Cherohala Skyway to the intersection with Forest Road 210. Turn right on FR 210, in a few miles, Bald River Falls will be on your right.

Smoky Mountains in the Fog

Last spring, Bill and I spent a few days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on our way home from a trip to Florida. One morning, we planned on photographing sunrise from Clingman’s Dome – the same place I had photographed my Smoky Mountain Sunrise photograph from a few weeks earlier.

Smoky Mountain Sunrise (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

As we drove up Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg, it started to get foggy. The higher up we drove, the foggier it got. By the time we got to Newfound Gap, we could hardly see anything. So much for sunrise.

As we headed back down the mountain, we noticed how the fog and clouds were moving across the mountains. There were constant swirls of white among the mountains, revealing and hiding incredible views. Here are some of the photos we took as we heading back down Newfound Gap Road.

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

Along Newfound Gap Road I (c) 2008 William Lawrence

Along Newfound Gap Road II (c) 2008 William Lawrence

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

The Bear Camp Grill at Wears Valley, Sevierville, Tennessee

Our first great food find of our recent trip to the Smokies was the Bear Camp Grill in Sevierville, TN. We had lunch there on Mother’s Day. For anyone who has heard our tales of woe about trying to find lunch in Gatlinburg last year on Mother’s Day – you’ll understand how thrilled we were to find a great place to eat this year.

Bear Camp Grill

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

We started the morning photographing at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We headed out of the park on Rich Mountain Road. One of the photographic opportunities along the road is a view of the Cades Cove Methodist Church surrounded by trees. The drive is worth it just to see this view. Someday, I hope to get back and take a similar photo with the church surrounded by colorful fall leaves.

Cades Cove Methodist Church

Cades Cove Methodist Church (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

After exiting the park, we drove along Rt 321 – and eventually came upon the Bear Camp Grill. Knowing we weren’t far out of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg – we figured it was time for lunch.

Bear Camp Grill

(c) 2008 Patty Hankins

The decor of the Bear Camp Grill is an old camp lodge – the type of place hunters would go to eat while bear hunting in the Smokies. The menu is good basic southern cooking.

Bill had the pulled pork BBQ lunch – which was excellent. I had the fried chicken special. The fried chicken was incredible – probably the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. The coating was light, the chicken moist – and not greasy. I couldn’t eat both pieces for lunch, so I took the second piece back to the hotel for supper that night. The fried chicken was just as good cold as it was hot – still moist – not soggy or greasy.

The Bear Camp Grill was a wonderful find on our trip – great food, great service and very reasonable prices (lunch for 2 was under $ 25 including tip). We’ll definitely be eating at the Bear Camp Grill on future trips to the Smokies.


The Bear Camp Grill is located at 3275 Wears Valley Road, Sevierville, TN. Hours are 11 AM – 9 PM Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 9 PM on Saturday and 8 AM – 3 PM on Sunday. Phone number is 865 453 0181. Their full menu and more info can be found on their website.




We’re Back

Bill and I have returned home after a weeklong photo trip. We’d hoped to post a few posts to our blog while we were on the road – but things just didn’t work out the way we’d planned.

Black Bears

Black Bears at Cades Cove (c) 2008 William Lawrence

We had a wonderful trip, photographing a variety of subjects in several southern states.

Meigs Falls

Meigs Falls (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

We also found a few great places to eat.

We plan on resuming our regular blog posting schedule this week. We’ll be posting lots of photos from the trip in the coming weeks, along with information on some of the places we photographed.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the first two photos from trip – a black bear mother and cub at Cades Cove and Meigs Falls – both photos were taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Yellow Trillium and Sweet White Trillium in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I spent part of last week photographing wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was my first time attending the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage – it definitely won’t be my last. I spent five days learning about and photographing incredible wildflowers.

I started photographing wildflowers last spring on our trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Some of my favorite flowers I photographed last year were the White Trillium (they turn pink as they age), Red Trillium and the Painted Trillium.

This year, I was able to photograph two more types of trillium – yellow trillium and sweet white trillium.

I saw yellow trillium in several areas of the park last week. I hadn’t realized that when the yellow trillium blooms – the petals are narrow and erect – rather than spread out on many other types of trillium.
I photographed this yellow trillium on Porter’s Creek Trail.

Yellow Trillium

Yellow Trillium (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

Frequently, I saw several yellow trillium plants grouped together. This set of five yellow trilliums were photographed on the Chestnut Top Trail.

Five Yellow Trilliums

Five Yellow Trillium (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

The Sweet White Trillium looks very similar to a White WakeRobin or White Erect Trillium. The difference is that the Sweet White Trillium has a purple center – and a very sweet smell. I photographed this Sweet White Trillium along the Cove Hardwood Trail.

Sweet White Trillium

Sweet White Trillium (c) 2008 Patty Hankins

I had a great time photographing the wildflowers in the Smokies. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting more of my wildflower photographs to our blog.

We’ve started printing some of our photographs, including many of my wildflower photos, on canvas and stretching them on stretcher bars. The canvas adds a level of texture and depth to the photos. Some of the flowers are so lifelike on the canvas that it seems as if you can almost pick them. If you’d like to see how they look on canvas, please come see us at one of our shows.


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