There are a lot of varieties of rhododendron along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but at the southern end, vaseyi is pretty much it. There’s a profusion of these growing along the roadway in various stages of blooming, depending, I think, upon the elevation.
Identifying this thing was a pain. Apparently, it’s entire natural range is within Western North Carolina. I found lots of photos of it captioned “flowers” or “flowering shrub.” I finally found a bloom schedule on the Blue Ridge Parkway Association’s website (http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/v.php?pg=77) and worked backwards. This site is a good resource for anyone planning a drive along the Parkway.
The groundsel is in full bloom and forms carpets of bright yellow in open areas along the roadway.
The tiny white flowers of the hawthorn shrubs are easy to miss.
They grow among the rhododendrons and you only notice them when you’re up close.