Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), or “(Mountain) Ivy” as it is called here, is a beautiful native shrub in our area. It is a glossy-leaved evergreen in the Heath family, most often found growing near native rhododendrons in deep thickets in the mountains and alongside creeks. These shrubs are numerous here and thrive in acid soil in part sun or deep shade, often getting as tall as ten feet. They have very distinctive flowers and buds, in colors of pink, white, and red. The gnarly and twisted trunks of this shrub remind me of bonsai trees, and the branches are often used in floral arrangements. My Ivy shrubs have been at peak bloom this past week, and the flowers are simply gorgeous.
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