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January 29, 2018

Nature Trail Trees Provide Year-Round Beauty

Have you stopped to notice the many different trees on the Buckhorn Inn Nature Trail?  If you are here in the spring, you will be sure to notice our redbud trees with their striking magenta flowers.  They contrast beautifully with the white-flowered dogwoods.  

You also will find several specimens of American hornbeam, also know as ironwood or blue beech.  It is called “ironwood because of the strong appearance of the bark.  The saw-toothed leaves are very distinctive and turn orange to red in the fall.

Our trail features a southern red oak–an important contributor to our fall parade of colors.  Nearby you will find an eastern hemlock.  It has long horizontal branches, very small cones, and graceful foliage that nearly touches the ground.  Hemlock was once extensively logged, and the bark was used to make tannic acid for tanning animal hides.  We treat our hemlocks to prevent the wooly adelgid.  This pest has decimated hemlocks in many other areas.

Perhaps no other tree is a s beautiful as the red maple.  In the fall ours turns brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange–spectacular against the blue sky!

We have only one native pine on our property.  It is an eastern white pine with five needles to a bundle.

While you are walking the trail, do not miss our two fragrant cloud dogwoods.  Douglas Bebb discovered these trees on the Buckhorn property and patented them.  You can see documents relating to this on display in our library.  This rare mutation produces scented blossoms.  Like the many types of dogwood found in the Smokies, the fragrant cloud is noted for its showy blossoms and scarlet berries.  In the fall, these berries become an important source of food for wildlife.  Native Americans used the rough bark to obtain red dye.  

Trees are not the only highlight of the trail

If you have never walked our nature trail, we highly recommend you do so.  The walk takes about an hour and covers about a mile.  If you decide to only walk part of the trail, there are several points which make for an easy return.  Be sure to wear proper footwear and to watch your step.  Please stop by the Buckhorn Inn office to pick up a map that shows the route and the locations of numbered informational stakes.

A variety of trees provide visual interest year-round at the Buckhorn Inn.

The Nature Trail features many blooming trees.

October 2, 2017

Carp-e Diem! New Denizens of Buckhorn Pond

Have you visited Buckhorn Pond?  The spring-fed pond was created after Douglas Bebb built a dam there in the early 1950’s.  The pond was designed with an ingenious overflow to protect the dam during heavy rains.  Bass, carp and perch make their home here, as well as frogs, turtles and a few snakes.  The brilliantly-colored wood duck, spotted sandpiper, heron, and other water fowl are attracted here.

The Buckhorn Inn Nature Trail features a spring-fed pond.

Buckhorn Pond is home to fish, amphibians, and water fowl.

We are responsible caretakers of our property, and invited a representative from the Tennessee Department of Natural Resources to review Buckhorn Pond and provide advice.  He told us that our water and surrounding area is in excellent shape!  His only recommendation was that a species of carp, the grass carp, could help us more easily maintain optimum levels of water plants.

Grass Carp Released in Pond

Our research revealed that the local farmers’ co-op is visited about once a month by a truck selling live fish.  We went there on “fish truck day” and purchased six 12″-long triploid grass carp.  The size was important as the naturalist told us if they were too small they could be eaten by the bass, and if they were done growing, they would not eat many water plants.

Grass carp help the pond stay clear of excess water plants.

Six grass carp were released into Buckhorn Pond.

Innkeeper John and daughter-in-law Sharon took the large plastic bags filled with water and carp down to the pier.  They “tempered” the fish by adding water from the pond to the bags until the temperatures equaled.  Then they lowered the bags into the water and let the fish swim out.  They report the fish looked happy in their new home!

The grass carp is a large, herbivorous, fresh-water fish.  It is used as a food fish in China, but in the United States and Europe used mainly for controlling aquatic weeds.  The use of these fishy friends lessens use of herbicides.  The fish live up to 11 years and eat three times their weight in vegetation daily.  They grow rapidly, as much as 10 inches in a summer.  The average length of a fully-grown grass carp is around 30″.  The grass carp are sterile and will not produce young in our pond.

For more information on stocking ponds, visit http://tn.gov/twra/article/fish-for-stocking.