By Sandy McLeod The Western North Carolina area is blanketed with wildflowers every spring and fall. North Carolina State Parks has declared 2013 The Year of the Wildflower. There are two excellent opportunities to visit NC State Parks near Asheville, N.C. and participate in some activities.  Chimney Rock State Park and the North Carolina Arboretum are excellent choices for seeing wildflowers up close. At both state parks, they can be viewed in their native environments, as the blossoms would naturally occur in wilderness areas in Western North Carolina.   The Blue Ridge Parkway intersects with Asheville at several key points, including South Asheville, Downtown Asheville and Weaverville. Even short excursions on the Blue Ridge Parkway will provide excellent wildflower viewing. There are many opportunities to see wildflowers alongside the road on a drive along the Parkway in the Asheville NC area in the spring, summer and fall.  For those who desire even closer encounters with wildflowers, hiking in some of the wooded areas and fields is an even better way to see more. Wildflower of the Year In 2013, the New Jersey-tea, (Ceanothus americanus) has been selected as wildflower of the year.  New Jersey-tea is actually a shrub, not a wildflower. But, it has ‘multi season interest’ - which means it displays different colors and characteristics in varying seasons.  In spring there are lots of white flowers; in fall the leaves turn bright bronze; the winter season yields delicate yellow-green twigs beneath the leaves that have shed, giving it memorable colors three seasons out of each year.   North Carolina Arboretum Year of the Wildflower Events On April 20, 2013, from 1-3 p.m. flower enthusiasts can immerse themselves in a 1-2 mile Spring Wildflower Walk, led by Steven Faucette, a wildflower photographer.  Indulge the senses in trillium, violets and flame azaleas among other species native to the area.  Cost is $18 for adults and $9 for children, 5-15.   May 11, 2013 is Mother’s Day. Use the occasion to bring mothers along on the Mother’s Day Guided Wildflower Walk at the NC Arboretum from 11 a.m. to 12 Noon.  Cost is $16 per adult and $8 for children, 5-15. This three-mile walk includes multiple trails and many stops along the way to view the lovely and unique selection of wildflowers that bloom each May at the NC Arboretum.   Chimney Rock Park Events Some may choose a visit to Chimney Rock Park on April 20th to celebrate the Year of the Wildflower with a Spring Wildflower Walk.  Cost is $18 for adults and $9 for children, 5-15.  The 1-2 mile hike will take place on the Four Seasons trail and will occur from 1-3 p.m.  Expect to see some Trillium, phacelia, violets, redbud, spicebush, magnolia, black locust, dogwood and maybe even some Carolina rhododendron. [caption id="attachment_624" align="alignright" width="392"] Violets are a prolific wildflower in Western North Carolina.[/caption] Chimney Rock Park is also hosting a Spring Wildflower Walk for Mother’s Day, May 11th, from 11 a.m. – 12 Noon.  The quest to see wildflowers will take participants down many different trails.   On the Wildflower Walk in May at Chimney Rock Park, visitors can expect to see: trillium, goat’s-beard, mountain laurel, flame azalea, mock-orange, ninebark, sweetshrub, tuliptree and buckeye.   Travelers staying in Asheville in the springtime on a holiday or trip with loved ones take in nature’s continuous display of exquisite and colorful wildflowers and shrubs.  Celebrate the wildflowers at Chimney Rock Park or the North Carolina Arboretum or just take a leisurely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Do not miss the chance to see a profusion of blossoms and learn more about varieties that are native to the Western North Carolina area. Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds has accommodations in Asheville throughout the wildflower season.