Asheville fling 2012

The New Southern Living Garden Book is a great resource that entices readers with beauty and information…

I’m a collector.  I’m a collector of plants, pottery, dishes, bird statuary and many other things.  Aside from plants, I derive the most enjoyment from my garden book collection.

I have books on perennials, vegetables, design, famous gardeners and gardens, drought-tolerant gardens, heat-tolerant gardens, children’s gardens, succulent gardens, vertical gardening and gardening inside the home.  I love my books.  I never tire of pulling one out and perusing all the beautiful photos and unique stories, tips and guidelines.

While I have an assortment of comprehensive and encyclopedic books, I may have just found my new go-to bible.

It’s not always easy to find resources that provide real-life, detailed information about gardening in the south — specifically the southwest.  Redesigned and updated, The New Southern Living Garden Book is a beautiful compilation of plant and garden information dedicated to how WE garden in the South and here in Central Texas.

More than 8,000 plants and 2,000 stunning photos of plants fill this 768-page book.  The plant encyclopedia includes information about light and water needs, several climate zone designations and adaptability as well as toxicity.  The entries also outline many of the different varieties of each plant, highlighting all of their unique characteristics. 

Then, it does the work for you.  You can slice and dice the information in a whole host of ways in the pages that provide information and recommend plants for seasonal color, cutting flowers, colorful foliage, winter interest, fragrant flowers, showy border perennials and more.  When I’m searching for inspiration and ideas, this is how I want my information presented.  Next come the sections that highlight plants for coastal gardens, drough tolerant gardens, deer resistant gardens, hanging basket and window-box gardens, southern natives and plants that attract butterflies and birds.

And there’s more – practical garden tips and advice about soil, fertilizing, watering and pruning.  It includes a detailed aseasonal garden checklist, and my personal favorite — “Solving the Mystery of Botanical Plant Names.”  Wow.  Did you know that ‘angustifolia’ refers to  a narrow leaf form in a plant?  Or that ‘barccata’ means berried or berrylike?  Or that riparia means ‘of riverbanks?’  Ah, one I knew — ‘texana’ means of Texas!

As I was soaking it all in, I turned the page and found a double-page spread showcasing the beauty of the fall garden with a gorgeous photo of the Gentling garden that I visited on the Garden Bloggers Fling in Asheville in 2012.  You can tour the garden with me here  here

Here’s an excerpt from the book:  “Leaves Blazing — Bathed in early November’s late afternoon sun, trees catch fire around Peter and Jasmin Gentling’s rustic home in Asheville, North Carolina.  Mountainous locations like this provide the South’s most dependable fall color.”

Just as the computer can entice me into rabbit holes for hours and hours on end, this book lured me in and I soon found myself lost in its glossy, plant-filled pages.  It’s the perfect way to spend a winter evening, or two or three or four.

Note:  Southern Living sent me this book and I chose to read and then review it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and am sharing with you my personal opinion.

Friends at the Fling – Garden Bloggers in Asheville 2012

My garden blogging friends who’ve never been to any of the five Garden Bloggers Flings often ask me, “what’s it like?” That’s a complicated answer because each Fling is so different — geography, itinerary, participants, weather — all play a factor. I love touring the gardens, both private and public, but it’s the people that make the Flings so special.

Since helping with the first Fling held here in Austin 5 years ago, I’ve had the good fortune to attend all the subsequent Flings in Chicago, Buffalo, Seattle and now, Asheville. It’s exciting to see so many of my garden blogging friends and to meet new ones each year.

So, this post is about the people at this year’s Asheville, N.C. Fling. I simply can’t name everyone in each of the photos, so I’ve not included names or blogs because I didn’t want to leave anyone out. My memory just isn’t what it used to be! As you read this post, though, please identify yourself and your blog in your comment back to me to jog my memory and let others find you.

Trekking up the hill to discover stone and garden goodies as Wamboldtopia.

Discussing the stonework at Wamboldtopia.

Listening to Christopher Mello explain about his special blue poppy.

At the cheerful entrance to the Sunny Point Gardens.

Perusing the rows and rows of beautiful veggies and herbs.

Everyone appreciated the drinks and snacks as we toured the gardens.

We all got time to visit over delicious bbq lunch at the gardens of Curve Studios.

Planking at the N.C. Arboretum!

Making a close inspection to verify a plant ID.

Enjoying snacks at the BB Barnes Nursery reception.

Our hosts at BB Barnes were so gracious and the nursery was a delight to wander through…so much cool stuff.

Shopping, eating, drinking and chatting — BB Barnes had it all.

It was so hard to decide where to start in the fabulous Gentling garden.

Is this a familiar pose, or what?

Comparing notes in the Gentling garden.

Taking a little rest after exploring all around the grounds.

There was so much to see at the Biltmore gardens.

And the view of the mountains and the countryside was spectacular.  With that breeze, I could have stayed there all day.

Nothing like a little champagne to rehydrate on a warm day!

The Community College gardens were so peaceful and tranquil — and so enjoyable with friends on a quiet Sunday morning.

A garden path less traveled…

On Sunday we finally got to join our host, Christopher, of Outside Clyde, at his mountain top garden, Ku’ulei’Aina, (which means My Beloved Land) and his mother’s neighboring garden, Bonnie Brae (as the steep mountain path winds). It was a beautiful, warm day, filled with sunshine and the sweet smell of green on the mountain top. We started with a delicious fresh lunch outside and then scattered about like little beetles, seeking a path less traveled to explore between the two quaint cottages.

 This cairn at the entrance to the property gives guests a rustic welcome.

Christopher built the house, which is literally perched on the mountainside. 

We all listen to the history of the two houses and gardens and get our guidance for winding through the mountain paths.

I didn’t get the history of this old fireplace, but I’m sure it has stories to tell of days gone by.

I couldn’t stop looking at the azaleas.  The early spring meant there weren’t very many still in bloom.  We did see quite a few of the tangerine-colored ones — I assume they bloom a little bit later.

Nestled in the very green of the woods were clusters of every kind of flower imaginable.  Some of them just popping up on the mountain, countless numbers of others, carefully yet randomly planted to contribute to the natural look and feel of the winding paths.

This is Christopher’s mother’s deck.  The view was incredible – I’m sure every post has the next picture in it.  Carol, of May Dreams Gardens is sure to have one in her post!  Though I didn’t photograph it, I did enjoy sitting on another small circular deck, a few steps down from this one and under the canopy of some beautiful trees.

On our way back over to Christopher’s we were all impressed with this huge boulder with the stream running out from under it. 

His stone labyrinth was inviting and I’m sure all 93 of us took a turn wandering through it.

I caught this little guy trying to crash our party.  We were all having such a wonderful time, I don’t think anyone else noticed!

THANK YOU, Christopher, and your whole team, for a wonderful Fling and for sharing your own garden with us all.  It was amazing and I’m so glad to have been able to see it firsthand.

Mountainside garden delights gardeners…

The first stop on the second day of the garden bloggers Fling in Asheville found us in a breathtaking garden, filled with stone  terraces, outcroppings and layers and layers of lush plants.  Around every corner and down every path, the garden of Jasmin and Peter Gentling never failed to surprise and delight.

When I looked at our schedule for the day, I was curious about spending 3 hours with lunch in one single garden.  It only took a glimpse to understand that we might need more time!

Amidst the incredibly green and lush backdrop, the poppies seemed to jump out right at you.

The terraces were woven throughout the garden, with winding trails that led to seating areas scattered about.

Some of the specimen plants in the garden were awe-inspiring, like this juniper that trailed along a support and created a grey-green curtain on the edge of the vegetable garden.

There are several buildings on the property – a greenhouse/art studio, a propagating building, and the main house.

The towering trees were stunning.  But photos don’t do them justice without a little perspective!

More of the juniper curtain.

We weren’t the only ones visiting the garden — it was full of bees and butterflies enjoying all the lovely plants.

Our host and planner extraordinaire, Christoper, of Outside Clyde, was busy studying and photographing the garden while herding the crowd of more than 90 garden bloggers.

There was no shortage of places to gather or plants to talk about.

Fellow Austin garden bloggers, Pam, of Digging, and Vicki, of Playin Outside, stop to talk about the white rose campion.

I almost mistook Lisa, of Greenbow Gardens, as a part of the poppy garden.  She graciously agreed to pose for me in her stylish hat.

Watching teeny tiny fellow bloggers wander up the mountainside in the distance gave some more perspective to the expanse of the garden. 

The rock work around the patio creates a cozy room.

Paths lined with plants wind around corners and lead to magical garden surprises.

A view of the main house (as full of character inside as the garden is outside) from the terrace below.

The back patio, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

Something we rarely see here in Central Texas gardens – moss.

The terraced beds were full to the brim with flowers in bloom, many of them things we can grow in Austin.  I saw rose campion, poppies, salvias, nasturtium, sedums, irises, day lilies, Jerusalem sage, lavender, rosemary, hostas, ferns, miscanthus and wisteria, just to name a few of the plants we have in common.

This stylized grouping of plants, shrubs and rocks against the wooden fence was very striking, and had a different feel than the rest of the garden, which was soft and flowing.

More paths, more flowers, more bloggers!

Look closely and you’ll see this bench tucked into the front of the rock retaining wall.

Jasmin’s cat (whose name escapes me now, sorry kitty) was a little overwhelmed with all the attention in her garden and Mom took her inside for a little cat nap.

All the steps had ferns and hostas and succulents peeking out from the nooks and crannies.

A focal point at every turn…

I love this view from the side of the garden – that’s the main house on the right, with several layers of terracing – rock, grass, flowers — to the left.

Garden bloggers galore resting on the house steps waiting for lunch.

It was stunning garden, the Gentlings were warm and gracious and the story of their garden was interesting and historic.  William Jennings Bryant and Herbert Hoover’s son stayed there.  The Gentlings bought the house in 1971 and said it was such a jungle when they got it that they didn’t even know the terracing existed.  Both Peter and Jasmin are gardeners with a passion for what they do, and their love of their garden shows in how they talk about it.  We all wanted to offer the our to become their live-in garden helpers!

This was the highlight of the Fling for me — a delightful garden that inspired and amazed me at every turn.

Wamboldtopia: whimsy in an Asheville garden

The first stop on the first day for the 5th Annual Garden Bloggers Fling, held in Asheville this year, was the whimsical garden, Wamboldtopia. (The garden is on Wambold Street, hence the name.)

Carved into the side of a mountain, surrounded by tall trees and a carpet of moss and earthy wet leaves, this stone mason’s dream is filled with delicate, funny and sometimes macabre creations. Natural stone steps and winding paths take you from room to room.

Eclectic treasures, tucked away into nooks and crannies, make wonderful conversation pieces as you meander about the garden.

With fellow bloggers clicking away around her, Pam of Digging, focuses on a garden subject.

This magical dog house would be a wonderful hideaway for any canine.

Special little touches adorn walls all around the property, like this miniature staircase, gargoyle and tiny fairy door.

Collections of woodland plants intermingle with art and stone throughout the garden.

This was my second favorite piece, after the dog house, of course!  I love the way the stones radiate out from the center, seeming to evoke beams of light around the angel.

The back chain link fence is covered in many areas by concrete, made into art.

A beautiful recirculating pond and stream look natural nestled among the rocks and moss.

A wall in progress gives a glimpse into how intricate the stone work can be.

The plants at the clearing on the top of the property are lush and green, thanks to recent rains.

Wamboldtopia was a delightful adventure and a magical start to our Asheville Fling.