Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Visit to An Enchanted Garden

Have you ever visited some place for the first time and had an eerie feeling of deja vu?  The rational part of your brain tells you that you have never been here before, but everything looks so familiar, and deep within you, a mystical voice says, "I know this place." You feel a bit like Alice stepping through the looking-glass, but instead of confusion you feel a sense of wonderment and delight.

Such were the feelings I had back in May when I visited a very special garden that you might recognize, too.  When plans were being made last winter to attend the Asheville Fling, a flurry of emails went back and forth between traveling companions Lisa, Beckie, and me.

"Can we make some time to see the Biltmore Estate?" I asked, knowing that I might never again be this close to a site I've wanted to visit for a very long time.
 "Yes!" they all agreed.  "Let's add another day to our trip so we can see this."
"And while we're on the road to Asheville, wouldn't it be great if we could make a little detour to see a special private garden?"
"Yes, yes, I'd love it! I have always wanted to see this garden!" each quickly replied.

 And so I reached out tentatively to a fellow gardener, asking would it be possible to swing by for a short visit before or after the Fling.  We didn't want to be an imposition, knowing she would be packing up to attend the Fling herself and had many things on her plate that week, but just a teensy, brief peek at her garden would make our trip complete. 

You can imagine my excitement when a response to my email came quickly and with an enthusiastic, "Yes!  I'd love to have you come by!"  Lisa and Beckie were just as thrilled as I was when I let them both know it was a "go," and plans were quickly made to leave a day early for this side trip that we had all dreamed about. 

And just where was this enchanted garden that we three were so eager to see?  If you haven't guessed already, the next image will surely tell you if you think very hard.

Yes, indeed, just a short detour from Knoxville, Tennessee 
found us in none other than the fabled Fairegarden!

As soon as I stepped out of the car, that feeling of familiarity came over me as I viewed the "lawnette" with its mini-meadows full of lilies, verbena, and salvia in bloom. Our gracious hostess Frances greeted us at the door; the four of us had met once before at the Chicago Spring Fling, but that was three years ago.  Still, when you read someone's blog on a regular basis, there is a bond formed, and you feel as though you are re-uniting with an old friend.  Hugs were exchanged all around, and then the tour of the garden began.

Up the garden steps we went--no wonder Frances is so fit and trim, traveling up and down this slope countless times a day!

Stopping to admire an array of hydrangeas--oh, those beautiful blue blooms!

Lilies of all kinds were everywhere, including this special Martagon lily.

Violas were still in bloom--perhaps this one will be a contender in next year's beauty pageant?

Up we went to one corner, to see the oft read-about Zen garden and then off to another area to see the Knot Garden (too sunny for a good photo).

It was strange yet wonderful to see sights familiar from years of "virtual" tours now in person and in three dimensions.  Other readers of Fairegarden can understand the feeling I experienced when I saw what must look to others be just a hole in the ground--the site of the long-departed Ferngully.

Up to the very top of the sloping garden, where we visited the vegetable garden, and Frances explained some of her plant trials with us.

We even got a peek into the well-equipped garden shed, where Frances shared some of her bounty with us--nigella seeds!

Every corner of this beautiful and large garden is filled with all sorts of wonders. Frances was a wonderful tour guide, patiently answering our questions and explaining different plantings as we stopped to admire them.  Resting spots are strategically placed along the winding--and did I mention sloping?--paths.  I suspect, though, that Frances spends as much time in these spots getting inspiration for new ideas for her garden as she does resting:)

Nowhere is Frances' attention to detail and creative genius more apparent than in her fairy garden. The centerpiece is a house made from leaf casting, built and decorated by Frances herself, sure to delight any resident fairies. Note the retaining wall beyond the fence, another one of her many projects.

The garden is located under a canopy of shade, a secluded retreat for fairies to relax after a long night of revelry. Careful attention is paid to placement of new furnishings to ensure the proper Feng shui.

Moss-covered stones provide a soft lounging spot for any little sprites who want to take in a little more sun.

My favorite accessory--a rusted toy truck, once the plaything of a child long ago now gracing the front yard of this fairy village.

The sloping paths necessitate a slow pace through the garden, but that is good, because there is something to see around every corner, and you don't want to miss a thing, such as these glass pieces shimmering in the morning sun. 

Even when you reach the last step and the ground levels out, there are a myriad of small treasures to be found lining the retaining wall like this hypertufa trough filled with foliage.

Or a re-purposed old toolbox.

A bonsai tree illustrates Frances' many talents.

The garden gods obviously look down upon this place with approval.

I was delighted to see and meet some more familiar faces like Athena.

Or the resting lady--I've forgotten her name, if she has one.
(She does have a name--"The Sleeping Maiden."  Thanks for the i.d., Frances!)

No forgetting these names, though--so happy to finally meet you in person, Mr. and Mrs. Bongo!

The Wise Men--I wonder if they share their gardening wisdom with the keeper of Fairegarden?

Alas, poor Yorick!  I knew you well, too:)

Despite our intentions to keep this visit brief so that Frances could pack and attend to all the last-minute details in preparation for the Asheville Fling, we stayed much longer than promised.  Frances was such a gracious hostess, not only giving us a full tour of the garden, but giving us a tour of her beautiful home as well and providing some delicious refreshments while we took time to chat about gardening and blogging.

Many, many thanks, Frances, for letting us visit your enchanted garden--
it truly was a dream come true!


  1. Its a very beautiful place. I love everything about it..... especially the little secret things that unexpectedly turn up.
    I often get that deja vu feeling too.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. Hi Rose, What a lovely garden Frances has and it was so nice of her to host a visit. I love all the whimsical touches, especially the faces that the fairy garden.

  3. I loved this post. Yes, we do form bonds with bloggers whose sites we visit regularly, and we do get to "know' their spaces well. How wonderful that you got to see the enchantment of the fairegarden, and recognized so much of it when you got there!!

    It's fun for readers to see a very familiar garden through another set of eyes.

  4. How nice for you to have stopped at Frances' garden...and lovely that you shared it with us. It is fun to see someone's garden through another's eyes. What a great visit.

  5. Very lovely. Visiting the gardens of avid gardeners is one of my favorite things. The meadow with lilies and other flowers is especially wonderful, and I appreciate the treatment of all the slopes, something I don't have in my neighborhood.

  6. Enchanted indeed! Love the alumroot with the resting lady.

  7. This was one of the best stops on our trip Rose. Thanks so much for the Waltz down Memory Lane.

  8. I always enjoy these garden tours through gardens we know, but through another blogger's lens. I'm sure I would have the same feeling you did. And you did a wonderful job of highlighting its beauty!

  9. Thanks for introducing me! her garden looks delightful

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  11. Dear Rose, you, Lisa and Beckie were so sweet to take the time from your long travels to come by and visit me and my gardens! I love showing it off, and you three were so appreciative, there could not be a better trio of garden guests! The daylilies and painting are gifts I will treasure forever, thank you, thank you, thank you! I will reread this post many times to remember when you were here, it is so gratifying that you felt familiar with my garden, it is quite personal to me.


    ps, the name of the lady holding the Heuchera is Sleeping Maiden, the martagon lily is Mrs. R. O. Backhouse and the fairy house is made of leaf casting mix, aka mortar.

  12. What a treat to see such an enchanted garden. Your photos show some different and lovely views.

  13. How fun! I'm sure you gals had a great time wandering around Frances' garden. A real treat - thanks for sharing it with us!

  14. So sweet to see your views of Faire's garden. I loved it, and I'm so glad you went. Lovely being in Asheville too.~~Dee

  15. Wow Rose what a beautiful trip you did make. A fairytail garden it is. Beautiful garden. I can understand you are impressed.
    Have a lovely weekend Rose

  16. Wow, how lovely! A truly magical garden with all those small touches. Love it!

  17. How wonderful you were able to make a stop at the amazing Faire Garden! Loved seeing this!

  18. How fun to make a visit to Fariegarden! I had forgotten about some of the spots you talked about but you have brought back memories of many post read by me over the years.... Frances has such a enchanting garden....

  19. Maggie, I had seen so many of these scenes on Frances' blog before that it was like walking into a garden that I knew.

    Jennifer, Whimsical is a good way to describe much of her garden. Frances is so creative!

    Laurrie, Getting virtual tours of a garden is great, but photos just can't capture the real feeling of a place. We could have spent hours here!

    Janet, I always enjoy seeing gardens through visitors' eyes, too. I'm so glad we were able to stop at Fairegarden on our way to Asheville.

    Jason, I don't have slopes either, but I discovered that in this part of the country you have to be part mountain climber!

    Sweetbay, I love all these little hidden treasures, too.

    Lisa, I think I took more photos at Frances' garden than anywhere else once we got to Asheville! I'm so glad we were able to visit it, too.

    Beth, It really was a treat to visit a garden I felt I already knew.

    Ruth, Delightful is a good way to describe Fairegarden!

  20. Frances, Thank you again for letting us come to visit, especially at such a busy time. I'm not sure I would have been such a gracious hostess if I had had bags to pack, overnight visitors coming, and lots of details to attend to:) Your garden is even more beautiful in person than can be imagined from your blog. This was definitely a highlight of our trip!
    Thanks for the i.d.s--my mind drew a blank when I tried to remember the Sleeping Maiden's name.

    Layanee, It was funny, but as soon as I posted this, I visited Frances' blog, and she had posted a few photos of the same scenes:)

    Diana, We were so excited when we found out we would be able to to visit Fairegarden. Definitely worth the extra traveling time!

    Dee, The tour of Frances' garden was a highlight of our trip. The whole Asheville experience is one we won't soon forget.

    Marijke, There are so many whimsical touches to this garden that it is much like being in a fairy tale.

    Indie, Magical and enchanted it definitely is!

    Lynn, Since we had such a long way to travel, we decided to make the most of this trip, and we did!

    Skeeter, We had also talked about visiting Tina's garden on our way home, but there just wasn't time, and I know she had a busy time with family then. It's so much fun seeing other bloggers' gardens in person!

  21. Simply Stunning! Great photos and commentary. I could spend hours there. A very talented gardener!

  22. I kept thinking "I know this place" while scrolling through the first pictures. Of course! Frances has such an amazing eye for detail, I think I could be all day looking at all her artistic touches.

  23. What a very special garden! I have not seen many of these fairy gardens. Each one is so unique and different. Thanks for sharing.

  24. How wonderful that you could visit the Faire Lady in her own garden. It truly is a delightful place. Frances has so much talent as a photographer, gardener, artist, blogger--the list goes on.

  25. How wonderful to be able to visit in person! Nice to see a different perspective on somewhere that, as you say, has become so familiar via virtual tours.

  26. I subscribe and read Frances' blog, but it was nice to see it through your camera. I don't remember seeing all the vignettes that you showed, so that is an added bonus.

  27. How sweet and adorable! Thanks for introducing me )and others who didn't know it) to Fairegarden!

  28. How lovely seeing Frances' garden through your eyes, Rose! Lucky you getting to see it in person!


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