The world grows brighter to my eyes
And summer comes with thee.
Scores of other poems, essays and even songs have been inspired by mountain laurel. Numerous streets, roads, schools and physical areas such as creeks and mountaintops are named for the shrub. Many of those places, though, bear the name “ivy,” which is what many old-timers once called mountain laurel. In Georgia, you are likely to find Ivy Creek, Ivy Creek Road, Ivy Gap and other ivy-named places. Several towns also celebrate mountain laurel with festivals in late spring. I attended Clarkesville’s Mountain Laurel Festival in North Georgia last weekend.
Mountain laurel’s beauty, however, may belie a darker side: All parts of the shrub are toxic to several animals — including horses, cattle and humans — if ingested. Its toxicity in sheep earned it another nickname, lambkill.
IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be in its last quarter on Sunday. Venus is low in the east just before sunrise and will appear near the moon next Saturday. Mars is very low in the west at dusk and sets about two hours later. Jupiter rises in the east before midnight. Saturn rises in the east a few hours after midnight.