JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Towards the end of March and beginning of April, residents in the Tri-Cities get a short opportunity to view some beautiful wildflowers in the region.
Many know of the Bluebells that bloom in Winged Deer Park, but if you don’t hurry, you could miss your opportunity to see them.
“There’s usually like an eight-day window in early spring, and I usually pick the last couple days of March into the first few days of April to be able to see them peak,” said Connie Deegan, a naturalist with Johnson City.
Seeing the flowers doesn’t even require a long hike at all. To find the Bluebells, head to the Disc Golf Parking Lot in Winged Deer Park. From there, hikers will see the trailhead at the end of the parking lot, which continues less than half a mile down the Wise Oak Trail to the Bluebell Loop.
A majority of the Bluebells aren’t actually located in the loop, but rather in a path a bit closer to the entrance.
“Used to be the dominant patch, and for the 10 years that I’ve had this job, things have shifted,” Deegan said. “This is happier over here and I don’t really know what exactly is going on, but they’ve also spread down the paved trails, there’s a big cluster down there, there’s a cluster up the hill, so there’s actually more of them, they’re just split up more. I can live with that, as long as they’re here.”
If you’re wondering why these Bluebells are blooming so early in the season, the answer is because they’re ephemerals. As Deegan explains, the flowers have a very specific blooming window.
“Very early spring, before all the trees above it leaf out and it takes advantage of full sunlight,” Deegan said. “Shows up, produces a flower, gets pollinated, POOF, and disappears. Goes back below ground for the rest of the growing season. So you won’t even know that these guys were here in late July. They’ll all be gone.”
While these Bluebells are naturally occurring, they need a bit of help from the rangers at the park. “Later in the summer, I’ll come in here and I’ll cut back a lot of the small brush,” said Deegan. “This would have been pretty much overgrown, it would have been young saplings that would have leafed out and these guys would have slowly done a slow fade, so there’s actually maintenance involved in allowing these to spread.”
So, before the short Bluebell season is over, make sure to head to Winged Deer Park to take in their beauty.