Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ku'ulei 'Aina

We had planned to leave early on Sunday morning although the Blogger's Fling continued through Monday. There was, however, another garden that we desperately wanted to see. 

"Ku'ulei 'Aina" ("My Beloved Land") is the garden of Christopher, one of the planners of the fling. I've followed his blog "Outside Clyde" for years. He build his home from the ground up, documenting each step along the way. That is quite an accomplishment for anyone but especially when you see the terrain! The house sits on stilts on a steep mountainside near the town of Clyde, N.C. When I first start reading his blog, I didn't know that "Clyde" was a town and thought that the blog was written by a guy named Clyde who enjoyed being outdoors. 

We arranged to catch Christopher's garden on our way out of Asheville since it was on our route back home. It was a sunny morning with temperatures pleasantly brisk. A gorgeous drive it way, up the mountain, along winding turns and curves, with small grocery/gas stations along the way. It was like stepping back in time and I experienced a tinge of nostalgia as it reminded me a lot of the area where I grew up (Franklin County, Alabama).  

Standing on the porch overlooking an artful arrangement of stones
On the opposite side, a beautiful hillside meadow filled with wildflowers, annuals and perennials

At the top of the meadow and next to the vegetable garden stood an old chimney
An added bonus to this tour was seeing the garden of Christopher's mother, who livs next door on the other side of the woods. She was so nice and her garden was a treat. It sits on a large hillside above her house and is filled with wildflowers, hostas and native shrubs. There was even a rhododendron still blooming.

That concludes the gardens we saw during the Garden Bloggers Fling and I haven't even started on the gardens we saw before the Fling. We traveled to Raleigh (J.C. Arboretum, Plant Delights), Durham (Sarah Duke Gardens), Seaford, Virginia (Pam Harper's garden), Norfolk (Norfolk Botanical Gardens, the Pinkham garden) and Richmond (Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden). All of those gardens are coming up next. In hindsight, I can't believe I saw so many gardens on this trip!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, May 25, 2012

Majestic Splendor in Asheville: The Biltmore Estate

 We've been to the Biltmore House and Gardens on numerous occassions in the past but it has been over 10 years so we were excited to visit it again, this time with the garden bloggers at the Asheville Fling. We did not tour the house this time (although we had that option). Most everyone was interested in the gardens, of course!

George Vanderbilt completed his 250- room Châteauesque-styled mansion in 1895, after six years of construction. The gardens and grounds were designed by the noted landscape architect of the day, Frederick Law Olmsted.

I love the three mile "approach road" to the estate, a winding peaceful drive with native plants, mountain laurel, azaleas and bamboo bordering the road. Guests arriving at the estate in its heydey took this journey by horse and buggy and it took an hour to reach the house.

Garden features include a conservatory, rose garden, Italian garden, walled perennial garden, azalea garden, and a woodland walk ending at a large pond and waterfall.

Sorry for so many photos of the house but it is so much fun to photograph with so many outstanding views - 

The walled Perennial Garden with adjoining Rose Garden

The woodland walk that leads to the pond and waterfall
The pond with a beautiful brick bridge. If you've seen the film "Last of the Mohicans", there is a brief scene at the beginning of a carriage going across this bridge.

The Conservatory

Incredibly, I didn't take any photos of the rose garden!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Garden of Peter and Jasmin Gentling

Day 2 of the garden tours (Saturday) on the Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling took us way up the mountain to the lush, verdant garden of Peter and Jasmin Gentling. The drive up was not for the faint of heart. Michael, who has a fear of heights, kept his sunglasses on and head averted to avoid glancing at the deep ravines and valleys on the way up. 

All of the gardens on our tour were fascinating in their own unique way. This one was my personal favorite. 

The garden is composed of a series of terraces on a steep hillside. This wall is about 5 feet high.

That is a dwarf hemlock on the right - I didn't know there was such a thing.

Strong legs required for this garden!

One highlight of the trip was discovering new bloggers. Ira Wallace (strolling above) blogs for Mother Earth News and is an expert on vegetable gardening in the Southeast. A fascinating woman!

That is Pam Penick in front whose popular blog Digging was one of the first gardening blogs I read and influenced me to start blogging. 

Busy, busy  bloggers
Peter Gentling is a master at combing textures
I don't know the kitty's name but he/she was after something and after seeing a bouncing gray object, I realized that it was a rabbit. The rabbit escaped unharmed!

Poppies, lilies and allium

A great place for contemplation

The Gentling garden is open by appointment. For more great gardens in the Asheville area (both private and public) visit Explore Asheville.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy