Roses are red, Violets are blue, the Roses at Lake J — Are amazing to view
I know — I’m not a poet. But my feet show it, because I have become a more-than-occasional walker at Lake Junaluska.
What a treasure this wonderful lakeside walking path is for a strong heart, for good health and an awakening of your spirit. And walking Lake Junaluska is also great therapy for those of us who are recuperating from foot problems.
Both my wife and I have been walking the walk and talking the talk at Lake Junaluska more often this year in an effort to heal (not heel) foot problems. Carol is rehabbing a stress fracture. I’m still working on improving strength and balance after reconstructive foot surgery three years ago — and also recuperating from my ongoing tendency to put my foot in my mouth.
Walking Lake Junaluska is therapeutic — with breathtakingly beautiful expansive views, fresh mountain air to breath and (without fail) an opportunity to catch up with friends.
Yes, rarely does a walk at the lake not include an unexpected encounter with a good friend, neighbor or chance encounter with an over-protective mother goose — not the fairy tale variety, mind you — but the angry kind, that only Mother Nature can provide.
But by far — by very, very far — the best reason for walking Lake Junaluska this year is the spectacular array of blooms along the Rose Walk.
Whatever it is — a new fertilizer, the mild winter, the unusual spring/summer weather this year, the fresh bed of pine straw or a combination of all of the above — the roses at Lake Junaluska look bigger and better this year than any previous season I can remember. The reds are scarlet, the yellows are saffron, the whites are glistening, the deep coral are intoxicating and the purples are deeper — seemingly in tribute to ‘Prince.’
What’s more, the Double-Delight roses (the petal-packed, multicolored roses) are pure eye candy. Watch the Lake Junaluska rose blooms fading from rouge to lemon sherbet right before your eyes; or from snow white to sun-kissed yellow, with soft, pink lipstick tips.
Did you know? I asked Roddy Ray, Lake Junaluska’s landscaping/grounds manager for the past 24 years, “Why are the roses so amazing this year?”
Ray’s reply was short and sweet — “Hard work.”
She went on to tell me that the roses along Lake Junaluska Rose Walk — all 239 plants —are sprayed weekly and pruned 2-3 time a week from March through November.
She also watches closely for Rose Rosette, a soil-borne disease, which explains why rose bushes are occasionally removed along the Rose Walk, and new roses can’t be planted in that spot for a full year.
Finally, Roddy asked me to remind everyone, out of fairness to all, please do not to pick the roses.
Instead, look with wonder all you want, and be sure to — ‘Stop and smell the roses.’
And even though it’s normal for your heart to slow down below the aerobic rate, mine races with the excitement of choosing the winning rose of the day.
On Memorial weekend, of all the beautiful blooms lining Lake Junaluska Rose Walk, the darkest of the red roses and the deepest of the purple roses gave off the strongest rose aroma. As for size, a few rose blooms seemed to approach dinner plate hibiscus proportions.
If you are fortunate to be a ‘Facebook friend’ of my wife Carol, you’ve already seen her beautiful Rose Walk photos. It was difficult picking just one or two to adorn this column, so she has posted a variety of stellar Lake Junaluska Rose Walk photos linked to this column on The Mountaineer Web site.
Finally, as you walk around Lake Junaluska, take note of the many other recreational activities available to all — swimming, canoeing, paddle boats, tennis courts, miniature golf, the fishing pier and evening pontoon boat tour.
And if you are a garden and landscaping enthusiast, don’t miss the Saturday, June 18 Haywood County Garden Tour. This biennial offering from the Master Gardeners Program showcases the great work of local horticulturists. It’s one of my favorite events of spring. For information on tickets, call the Haywood County Cooperative Extension office at 828-456-3575.
Oh yes, wherever you are and whatever you do, take time to stop and smell the roses.