Thursday, June 21, 2012

Visit Asheville's Gardens

Asheville, North Carolina as a must see place to visit has a reputation for many things, some deserved, some not so much. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority have recently discovered that Asheville is also a horticultural and garden destination for those in the know. Now they would like to spread the word about the wonderful gardens there are to see when you come to Asheville.You can always add another well deserved reputation to Asheville's list.

I have seen quite a few gardens in and around Asheville, so let me play tour guide for a bit. There are a number of public gardens open year round.

Let's start off big with one of Asheville's premier destinations. The Biltmore is not just a big fancy house. The three mile entry road and the many acres of grounds directly around the house are an intact and historically accurate Frederick Law Olmsted landscape. From the very formal to the lush and naturalistic, strolling the gardens of Biltmore can keep a garden geek busy for the whole day.

The North Carolina Arboretum at Bent Creek is another horticultural gem in Asheville. 434 acres with 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails can be explored here along with regular exhibits and educational programs.

The Arboretum is home to one of the finest bonsai exhibits in the south east.

Another must see public garden is the Asheville Botanical Garden. This garden features a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian mountains and is located adjacent to the campus of UNCA. Early spring, the second and third weeks of April when many of the native woodland plants are blooming  is when I have found this garden to be the most spectacular.

Tucked into Asheville's thriving neighborhoods are many smaller gardens that can be considered semi-public. Behind Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville is a working kitchen garden where real food is grown that is served up in style to diners. You can't get more local and fresh than that.

The inventive gardens of artist Pattiy Torno at Curve Studios in the River Arts District are open during regular business hours. If you like to shop for art and look at gardens, you must go to Curve Studios.

Much of the award winning garden at the White Gate Inn  can be seen by peering over the white picket fence along the sidewalk at its corner location.

Better to book a room at this historic inn which is within walking distance of downtown so you can stroll the grounds at your leisure and find all that is hidden from view.

There are a number of private gardens in Asheville that are open by appointment on a regular basis. Wamboldtopia is the ongoing creation of artist Damaris Pierce and stone mason Ricki Pierce, aka the Rock Pirate. The stone work is a wonder to behold. The collaboration between Damaris' enchanting art pieces incorporated into Ricki's master stone work has produced something truly unique.

The plantings in the garden are just as well thought out. Wamboldtopia's facebook page is a good place to look for open garden dates.

The West Asheville garden of Christopher Mello is located on a prominent corner lot next to his working art studio. It is often open in conjunction with open days at Wamboldtopia.

Christopher's garden is an artists play ground where bold experimentation is the norm.

The second Saturday of September is now the day to remember for what is quickly becoming a landmark event for the gardeners of Asheville and all who care to join them. The West Asheville Garden Stroll show cases about a dozen private gardens each year. These are real gardens by real gardeners, each one unique to the gardeners who made them.

The West Asheville Garden Stroll is planned so that the tour is easily walkable. Biking is encouraged. This really allows for an intimate look at the reawakening neighborhoods of West Asheville.

You can discover how a gardener can create their own Anahata on a small inner urban/suburban lot.

Asheville GreenWorks also hosts an annual Father's Day garden tour. Occurring in June and generally held in the posher sections of town, this garden tour will show you a whole other face and season of horticultural endeavors in our unique mountain growing conditions. You might even find out whose garden this massive Dawn Redwood tree is in.

Let's not forget the incredible natural beauty in the higher mountains that surround Asheville in all directions. The Blue Ridge Parkway is easily accessible from many points in Asheville. Trails abound along the parkway and nature will not be outdone by a mere gardener.

A little more exploring around Asheville could lead you to great plant nurseries, farmers markets, community gardens and farm tours. Horticultural abundance awaits you in Asheville.


Rose said...

The Asheville Department of Tourism couldn't do a better job of promoting its gardens than you, Christopher! Having now seen some of these gardens, thanks to you and the Fling committee, I can attest that Asheville is a real gem for any visiting gardener.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

You have done a wonderful job of sharing Asheville. I really enjoyed our visit, thanks in great part to you and your planning.

Skeeter said...

I shall jot down some of these gardens that I have not already seen for the next trip to Asheville. Which I hope shall be within the next year.....

Christopher C. NC said...

Rose I talked up the West Asheville Garden Stroll to the tourism man telling him there was already an event happening every year. He had never heard of the Stroll.

Janet you are close enough to visit more often.

Skeeter I don't think the rules said I get an entry for each garden listed, only per post and per FB or tweeting posting. That still gives you a huge lead. So when you come back, holler if you'd like to visit the mountain top again.

Siria said...

What an awesome write-up!!! I'm going to have to check for some if those open dates to catch those private gardens I've only visited through your posts. Thanks for sharing!

Lola said...

Thanks for all your hard work in getting this fling in order so that us none visitors could enjoy all that beauty. I did find it awesome when I was there many yrs ago.
I've enjoyed all the post on the fling, seeing most of what everyone saw. But, I do know it is different in person.