Summer brings a parade of blooms to the region's gardens, and entree into noteworthy homes
PHOTO: The Historic Flat Rock Home tour.
Take a peek inside life in the mountains
Historic Flat Rock Home Tour - July 21
When Charlestonians began flocking to the Flat Rock area in the 1820s, the community got the nickname, “The Little Charleston of the Mountains.” The moniker was buoyed by the work of Lowcountry natives Charles Baring and Susan Heyward Baring, who built Mountain Lodge in 1827, the first estate to cater to Lowcountry vacationers. Explore this and other homes on the National Register during Flat Rock’s Home Tour.
Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
$40, $35 advance
Blowing Rock Tour of Homes - July 27
Stroll the creaking hallway floors and garden-lined paths of Blowing Rock’s historic homes during the 60th annual Tour of Homes. Every penny of the proceeds from this event, which begins at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Parish (where guests can also browse a bazaar of fresh-baked goods), benefits local charities.
Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
$35, $30 advance
Cashiers Designer Showhouse - July 28–August 5
Thirteen interior designers from across the Southeast claimed a room in a residence overlooking Lake Glenville, transforming each with their expertise while maintaining the home’s cohesive feel. Tour the spaces for inspiration; ask the pros (many of whom will be on hand) questions; and attend demos, workshops, and lectures to gain even more insight into the design process and trends. Times vary.
SMELL THE FLOWERS
Cradled between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Asheville proper sits the 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum. The Arboretum’s 10 miles of forested trails are perfect for hiking, but in summer it’s the 65 acres of curated gardens that draw the most visitors. The Heritage Garden showcases the blue-violet and butter-yellow blooms of native medicinals, the Quilt Garden replicates the Appalachian craft with neat squares of foliage, and the Plants of Promise Garden displays local flora in wild abandon—just to name a few.
Summer also brings a new traveling exhibit, “Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance” (through September 3), which explores the horticulture and history of perfume.
20 Frederick Law Olmstead Way, Asheville. Daily, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Free admission; $14 parking fee. www.ncarboretum.org
PHOTO: The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge hosts a dozen thematically planted raised beds with more than 700 varieties of flora across its 155 feet.
In the small town of Lake Lure, two bridges cross the Rocky Broad River: one carries cars and vans packed with road-trippers, the other is a surprising terrace flourishing with gardens. The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, tended entirely by volunteers, is the lush result of local Master Gardeners and longtime hobbyists who had the idea to turn the old passenger bridge (which closed in 2011) into a botanical attraction.
Over its 155-foot span, the stone bridge holds more than 700 plants. Each of its dozen raised beds showcases a different theme and a rainbow of hues to match, from the simple spectrum of green provided by succulents and herbs to the colorful songbird and butterfly garden, which draws long-nosed pollinators, gem-colored butterflies, and bees that add their own bright hues to the kaleidoscopic landscape.
Even avid gardeners will have questions about the diverse plantings; on some days, the knowledgeable brigade of volunteers (look for them wearing “Flowering Bridge Ambassador” shirts) are there to answer them. But even when they’re not, the bridge’s audio tour—accessible through your cell phone—is a valuable resource. It also provides a multisensory experience for visually impaired visitors.
A florabundance of events for plant-lovers of all ages
5th Annual Fairy Day - July 14 (Boone)
Kids don fairy costumes and wings and alight upon the three-acre Daniel Boone Native Gardens for this whimsical party that teaches young ones about native plants and butterflies. While your budding horticulturists build fairy houses out of natural materials, look for blooms of purple coneflower, Northeastern asters, sweet azalea, sunflowers, and wild geranium. Saturday, noon–4 p.m. 651 Horn in the West Dr. Free, www.danielboonenativegardens.org
Mountains in Bloom Garden Tour - July 20 (Highlands)
Every summer, The Bascom Arts Center hosts a garden stroll highlighting the well-tended landscapes of local homeowners. This year’s tour features six private green spaces in and around the Highlands Country Club—many of which have never been opened to the public. Friday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Tour begins at Highlands School, 545 Pierson Dr. $100.
Jay’s Naturalist Walk - August 19 (Asheville)
During this popular annual event, garden manager Jay Kranyik takes guests on an enlightening stroll through The Botanical Gardens at Asheville, a 10-acre property focused on native plants and habitats of the Southern Appalachians. Don’t be shy—Kranyik enjoys addressing questions and leading conversations about everything from botany and scientific nomenclature to ornithology. Sunday, 9–11:30 a.m. 151 W.T. Weaver Blvd. $20; $15 member. www.ashevillebotanicalgardens.org
Photographs (house) courtesy of Historic Flat Rock Inc. & (bridge) by Mike Lumpkin