Nestled on a hillside on the outskirts of Asheville, the house is reached by traveling very narrow winding roads--so narrow that I was a little worried whether our bus driver was going to be able to make it! I'm not sure how the driver eventually was able to turn around for the trip back home, but if he hadn't, I would gladly have stayed there the rest of the day, for I had found Paradise.
Peter and Jasmine Gentling frequently welcome gardening tours to their home and are such gracious hosts. They explained how their garden evolved and their philosophy on gardening, including the fact that every year they choose a section of the garden, tear everything out, and completely replenish the soil before replanting. As you can see, their constant activity is a testament to the physical benefits of gardening. Jasmine also gave us some background on their home, Blue Briar Cottage, which had an interesting history before they purchased it some forty years ago. However, after two weeks I've forgotten some of this; besides, other bloggers have already related some of the history, which you can read here, if you wish. Instead, I'm going to keep my narrative to a minimum today so you can just enjoy the images of this little bit of heaven.
A terraced garden in front of the house contained mixed plantings.
Poppies were in bloom everywhere in Asheville, but none so tall and regal as in this garden.
As another blogger has already pointed out, Rose Campion, though, seemed to be the signature plant of Asheville. We saw it in nearly every garden we visited.
Indian Pink was another common sight in many gardens. I'd like to add this plant to my own garden after discovering it's very attractive to hummingbirds.
One of the nice things about touring gardens with a group of such knowledgable gardeners is that if you don't recognize a plant, someone is sure to be able to identify it for you. However, no one was quite sure what this plant was, although its leaves reminded us of Thalictrum or Meadow Rue. After an internet search, I am now almost positive that it is in fact Meadow Rue, though I had never seen it with such soft yellow blooms before. This is definitely going on my plant wish list!
Hellebores grow huge in the Southeast!
Woodland paths invited us to explore beyond the house.
A blooming azalea punctuates the sea of green.
This large tree is a Dawn Redwood, a variety brought from China in the late '40's. Several were also growing at the North Carolina Arboretum. One can only imagine how huge this tree will eventually be.
One of the reasons I didn't catch all the details in our early introduction to the garden was because I was distracted by the goldfinches feeding outside an upstairs bedroom.
Near the Dawn Redwood I saw my first-ever Eastern Towhee,
thanks to the sharp eyes of birding friend Lisa.
Along the path, wildflowers were in bloom.
An unusual variegated Ginko caught everyone's eye.
Surprises awaited us at every turn in the path, including this nearly hidden pond.
Lisa takes advantage of one of the many benches placed throughout the area for reflection and simply enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
Now I do have to explain this scene--Peter Gentling called this "The Ten-Foot Man." I'm not much of a connoisseur of modern art, but Lisa encouraged me to go see this, and after climbing up several steep paths, I had to include it in this post. Jasmine Gentling warned us when we arrived that the paths were wet and slippery and to watch our step; should we slip, we simply had to use their signal--a "whoo-hoo"--and someone would come find us. I was very careful going back down after this climb, navigating slippery leaves and uneven stone steps very slowly. So slowly, I guess, that a much younger blogger asked if I needed help:) Mrs. Gentling also told us that they often had a mother bear and her cubs come into the garden in the mornings. Thank goodness, I didn't see any bears close by, or I would have hustled down those steps, slippery leaves or not, "whoo-hooing" all the way!
There were so many interesting areas to see, there was no shortage of photo opportunities.
A cold frame near the large greenhouse holds plants in waiting.
An art studio above the house provides still another retreat.
I don't know what kind of tree this is outside the studio, but the trunk certainly caught my attention.
More terraced gardens--talk about a room with a view!
After a morning of walking and climbing, the spacious front porch provided a welcome place to relax and chat. From left: The Garden Junkie, Tina, Jasmine, Skeeter, and Joy. While we waited for lunch--delicious, I might add--Jasmine entertained us with stories about the house, including the anecdote of two lady visitors who emphasized that they had only one hour to see the garden. The hour came and went, then another hour, and another hour . . . until they had spent the entire day here!
It's no wonder--I could easily spend a day or more here!
A big thank-you to the Gentlings for giving us the opportunity to see this corner of paradise they call home.