White Gate Inn’s charming garden and goodbye Asheville Fling!

While not an official part of the recent Garden Bloggers Fling in Asheville, North Carolina, the garden of the White Gate Inn, just down the street from our hotel, was suggested as a must-see if we had any spare time. So one morning I got up early and walked a few blocks into a quiet neighborhood of bungalows to see it. Its charms were evident from the street, especially with French hollyhocks in bloom.

The gray-gravel parking area is wrapped by garden on two sides, helping to blend it into the scene.

Verbena bonariensis was flowering.

Airy bronze fennel and felt-leaved mullein made a pretty combo.

But the foliage stars were the blue spruce pictured in the top photo and this purple Japanese maple, against which these yellow flower spires absolutely popped. Christopher has ID’d the yellow flower as Carolina or redneck lupine (Thermopsis caroliniana).

A closer look

Dripping with frosted blue berries, this Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) was a traffic-stopper along the sidewalk.

What a handsome shrub!

With clusters of purple flowers held aloft on airy stems, Verbena bonariensis makes everything around it look prettier.

Blue spruce and more of those sweet French hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’)

A narrow side path beckoned through a stand of bamboo, inside which two Adirondacks offered a secret hideaway. I was tempted to explore the back garden, but it was so early and the place so quiet that I felt as if I would be intruding, so I didn’t. Later, when I saw photos from the other bloggers who stopped by and did visit the back garden, I regretted my hesitancy. If you go, do take the path not taken.

And that concludes my posts about the 5th annual Garden Bloggers Fling. Here’s a group shot, taken after our big dinner on Saturday evening, just before the blogging discussion that followed. (Unfortunately, not everyone was able to stick around after dinner, and the photo was an impromptu affair—I wanted a group shot and asked a helper to take our picture—so at least 20 attendees missed the photo op.) There were approximately 84 bloggers at this year’s Fling, and what a great group it was. Meeting new attendees, renewing old friendships, touring beautiful gardens, and sharing meals together—the Asheville Fling was a big success. My thanks to the hard-working volunteer hosts who worked for months to create this fun event for us: Christopher, Frances, Helen Yoest, Lisa Wagner, Nan Chase, Rebecca Reed, and Ana Calderin. You are awesome! Thank you!

For a look back at the North Carolina Arboretum and Amy Stewart’s Wicked Plants exhibit, click here.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Bee-utiful community and food gardens at Asheville Fling

Wallowing in poppy goodness, the bees and I enjoyed a visit to the Burton Street Community Peace Garden while in Asheville recently for the Garden Bloggers Fling. Look at this girl’s full pollen basket on her legs.

Like slipping into satin sheets

Dusted with pollen

Off to the next one

A bee’s work is never done.

There were also lilies…

…and interesting foliage.

Mostly though, the Burton Street Community Peace Garden is about, well, community, and providing a shared gathering space. Most of the garden is given over to constructions made of recycled junk, and quite a bit of it was created to make a statement about the wastefulness of our throwaway society, or so it seemed to me. Christopher, the chief planner of the Fling, has written a good post about the point of a largely non-plant, junk-art garden, if you’re interested to know why he put it on the itinerary.

Skulls seemed to be a theme in Asheville gardens, as we’d seen quite a few at Wamboldtopia too.

Later that day we were also treated to a visit to a food garden: the Sunny Point Cafe Garden. It’s quite large, and I wondered if they are really able to use all their produce in the restaurant or if they have a lot of surplus.

Sunny P. Bacon greets you at the entrance.

Rows of edibles

Asheville gardens always seem to include a place to gather with friends, and this one is no exception.

Pretty eryngium, or sea holly

In this small bed, even the silverware has sprouted.

Silverware flowers!

For a look back at the whimsical-Goth garden called Wamboldtopia, click here. Next up: The yard-art garden of Christopher Mello.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Revisiting Biltmore Gardens at Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling

The “big” garden visit on the recent Garden Bloggers Fling in Asheville, North Carolina, was, of course, the Biltmore House gardens. I took a lot of photos of the gardens almost exactly a year ago, on a less-crowded and less-sunny morning (links at the end of this post), so I didn’t go photo-crazy this time. Instead I just walked around and took in the views. This image ended up being my favorite. I’m surprised they even allow dogs in the garden, but we saw a few, including this big boy lounging with his master in the shade of the wisteria arbor.

Castle in the sky—the House itself was not on our tour, although tickets were available to anyone who made time before or after the tour to go see it.

The wisteria arbor provided welcome shade on this hot afternoon.

Classical adornment…

…and natural beauty—the Vanderbilts had it all when they built their summer home here.

A few dogwoods were in bloom.

And the formal ponds in the Italian garden were revving up for summer glory.

The lotus weren’t blooming yet—too early…

…but an island in the pond offered the surprising sight of a banana tree growing out there, surrounded by Japanese iris.

I’m declaring rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) to be the Asheville Fling’s signature plant. I saw it everywhere we went. Here a hot-pink and a white variety are paired with bronze canna and tall verbena.

Oval windows in the grape arbor, which leads from the upper gardens to the conservatory garden, look out on the formally planted Walled Garden.

Here we bloggers were treated to champagne in the garden. I’d have felt like Lady Vanderbilt herself, if only I’d been wearing a long, sweeping dress and big-brimmed hat. That’s Diana of Sharing Nature’s Garden enjoying a glass too.

Anneliese Valdes of CobraHead’s blog and Christa Hanson of Growing a Greener World TV—all sweetness and light

Moments later they are in full photo-bomber mode. Which is the truer portrait? I’m not saying.

For a look back at the recycled-art garden of Christopher Mello, click here. Next up: A sampling from the North Carolina Arboretum and Amy Stewart’s macabre and wonderful Wicked Plants exhibit.

And if you’d like to see more of the Biltmore House gardens, I wrote four posts about it last summer. You’ll find pics of Biltmore’s formal gardens, the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed shrub garden, a gorgeous limelight-colored perennial border, and Biltmore’s glass house and conservatory garden.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.