Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lonesome Valley

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a garden that was both humble and magnificent, confirming the essential need to nurture the human-plant connection. I hope to post something on that soon.

Along those lines, I just learned of an upcoming event that doesn’t match up with my schedule or budget, but looks quite worthwhile.

The Highlands Biological Foundation will hold the Eleventh Annual Conference on Landscaping & Gardening with Native Plants and Native Plant Auction, Friday and Saturday, September 10-11, 2010 at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center in Highlands. Details and registration information online at http://www.wcu.edu/hbs/NPC.pdf

The field trips look excellent. I’ve never been to Lonesome Valley, “the most magnificent box canyon east of the Rockies.”

I’ve also heard of, but never visited, the Southern Highlands Reserve. The Reserve, located at the summit of Toxaway Mountain, contains a 20 acre display garden planted with native species and their cultivars including a Woodland Glade, Azalea Walk, Wildflower Labyrinth, Vaseyi Trail and Pond, and Grassy Bald. More at http://www.southernhighlandsreserve.org/

Other workshops include:

The Living Soil: How Billions of Microbes Support Life

A Gardener's Guide to Southeastern Native Plants

Nurturing the Ecosystem in your Backyard

The presenter for the last program on that list is Dr. John Pickering, faculty member at UGA's Odum School of Ecology and creator of Discover Life, a web-based interactive encyclopedia of life, that I’ve consulted quite often: http://www.discoverlife.org/

I don’t think the Lonesome Valley near Whiteside Mountain inspired the old song. Maybe the song inspired the naming of the valley. In any event, I was thinking about the song and found a nice performance of it by Mississippi John Hurt.

Two other folk singers were present for the Hurt session, Pete Seeger and Hedy West. You can see West in the background during this song. Coincidentally, both Seeger and West have Jackson County connections.

Hedy West spent some time at Western Carolina University and Gary Carden has written about this at:


Seeger has a more indirect link to Jackson County. In the 1930s, a very young Pete Seeger attended the Mountain Folk Festival in Asheville where he was so inspired by a banjo picker that he took up the instrument himself. That banjo player was Jackson County’s Aunt Samantha Bumgarner. But that's another story for another day.

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