By Katie Jackson
Fire in the hills. That’s what American naturalist William Bartram thought he was seeing when he rounded a wooded bend on the Savannah River in the late 1700s and saw an entire hillside ablaze with red and orange color.
It wasn’t fire that Bartram saw, however. It was a stand of native Flame azaleas blooming in all their intense glory, a sight that is increasingly rare these days in the wild, but is being preserved and expanded by a dedicated cadre of modern-day horticulturists.