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Wildflower Wonderland

14 Million Trillium Bulbs Will Bloom for the Next Two Weeks, Putting on a Magnificent Show in the Mountains of Virginia

Washington’s famed cherry blossoms may be gone until next year, but the end of April brings a new opportunity for flower lovers.

That’s when the trillium, a member of the lily family with a large three-petaled flower, puts on a magnificent — if fleeting — show at Virginia’s G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, about a 60-mile drive from D.C.

The area’s estimated 14 million trillium bulbs, thought to be the largest collection of the wildflowers in North America, are in bloom for two weeks, transforming the mountain ridge into a blanket of white, pink and mauve.

Lou Verner of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which oversees the area, thinks the wildflower is equal to any imported exotic.

“They are every bit as gorgeous as imported plants,” Verner said. “If more people knew about [the trilliums], they wouldn’t want anything else.”

Visitors to the park can expect to find songbirds such as the Cerulean Warbler and the American Redstart. 

Several organizations, including the Virginia Native Plant Society, will lead guided wildflower hikes through the park next weekend.

Sally Anderson, the society’s president, expects hundreds of wildflower enthusiasts will make the trek to the area.

“They are just such a beautiful plant, and there are so many of them,” she said. “Metabolically, it takes a lot of energy to grow a flower that big and showy; it’s a big investment for the plant.”

Anderson encouraged Washington residents to pay the flowers a visit.

“I’ve had people call all the way from England to ask about the trilliums,” she said, adding with a chuckle, “but then, you know how the English are about their flowers.”

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