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!