Southern Highlands Reserve

The Vaseyi Trail & Vaseyi Pond

An altar of rare plants of the Southern Appalachians

The Vaseyi Trail leads visitors through the towering canopy of the Woodland Glade to an expansive garden room featuring the Vaseyi Pond. Hand-in-hand, the Vaseyi Pond and its neighbor, the Viewsite, invite visitors to witness an uninterrupted north-facing view of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains rolling beneath expansive clear blue sky.

The Vaseyi Trail is one of our founder’s first and favorite garden features. He discovered it, and with the assistance of our landscape architect, W. Gary Smith, interpreted it as the enchanted path it is today.

The Vaseyi Trail at Southern Highlands Reserve is home to what azalea experts have described as “the largest known natural stand of Rhododendron vaseyi in the world.” A narrow footpath winds under and through the thicket of twenty-foot-tall R. vaseyi, bathed in bright pink blossoms during the spring. The trail is interspersed with Clethra acuminata, white spires of Galax and large boulders of naturally-occurring quartz. The two footbridges constructed by Bailey and Morgan provide viewing areas of the vaseyi while crossing Vaseyi Creek.

Southern Highlands Reserve
monarch, caterpillar, pollinator, pollination

Built for its natural beauty and to provide irrigation for the gardens, Vaseyi Pond is both an essential aesthetic and functional element of the Reserve. The pond is home to Rhododendron, Hydrangea and Viburnum. Phlox and Tiarella brighten the early spring days, and several varieties of Rudbeckia, turtleheads and Veronicastrum make their entrance in summer. In the late summer, Joe-Pyes take over until the leaves begin to change color in fall.

Plant Varieties

  • Rhododendron vaseyi

  • Rudbeckia laciniata

  • Rudbeckia fulgida

  • Rudbeckia ‘goldsturm’

  • Phlox

  • Tiarella

  • Chelone

  • Viburnum nudum

  • Hydrangea aborescens

  • Lycoris radiata

  • Native blueberries

  • Rhododendron catawabiense

  • Clethra acuminata

  • Galax

  • Eutrochium

Southern Highlands Reserve

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