After the SE Women's Herbal Conference ended, we (humorously dubbed "the Essential Herbal magazine staff") decided to wander around a little bit before heading home. Asheville was calling. We were completely enchanted by the town of Black Mountain, and Asheville has the same flavor ... x10 The area is filled with artisans and craftspeople. We just snooped around a little, but the vibe was very clear and open. Eventually we stumbled across the botanical garden.
In our local area, we have a couple of great gardens. One - Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve - is a series of trails that is awash with unbelievable spring wildflowers each year. Another is the Tanger Arboretum that adjoins Wheatland and the historical society headquarters. The former is wild, the latter mowed and formal. The Asheville Botanical Garden is a splendid combination of both.
I have not figured out all of the plants yet. Some were marked, and some were not in a stage that was easily identifiable, but it was beautiful and the breezy warm sunshine made us want to stay much longer.
Below, the seedheads of Common Wingset, a member of the aster family. About waist high, these were actually quite lovely.
A concrete table with benches snuggled up under a large tree next to the softly winding creek that runs through the gardens.
A large patch of sweetfern grows along the border in front of the gift shop. We were a little surprised to find lots of information and field guides on birds inside, but not very much on the local wild plants. I have a field guide specific to southern VA, but of course it was at home (along with my business cards - just a peek into how my brain was working when I left home last week).
Wild Ginger spread luxuriously under some Tulip Poplars and Hemlocks. I was envious. The deer in our woods keep both of our varieties nibbled pretty closely, and I imagine the roots are immense.
Fall is definitely underway. Beautiful painted leaves scatter the walkways and blew around us as we walked. Such an invigorating time of year.
Maryanne was taking a picture of something when she saw movement at her feet. This little one, a garter snake was happily enjoying some sunshine and didn't move away, allowing me to get within a few inches.
Some of my friends in the south seem to have trouble growing jewelweed, but that was not the case in the garden. Along the creek there was tons of it, getting ready to spring their seeds outward at the slightest touch.
Indian Hemp was quite common along the path. This was one of the marked plants.
The creek was sweet, babbling and bubbling, carrying leaves along the way. In one spot, platforms were hung from a tree by wires, and filled with birdseed so that from a deck, one could watch the little chickadees.
A bench with insets of stained glass along the path, decorated with trillium. When my daughter was in the Waldorf school, her nursery school teacher gave each of the children their own wildflower that indicated their possessions. Molly was a white trillium, and that flower has been special to me ever since.
I was amazed by the Bald Cypress trees (no, those aren't Brussels Sprouts) because we have several large Bald Cypress here on the hill, but none of them has yet produced these balls. I had to look it up when I got the chance to be sure that the name wasn't actually "balled" cypress. The tree is called "bald" because it isn't evergreen and loses her needles (at least up here in the north) each winter.
There were still a few wild Bleeding Hearts in bloom. Ours finish up before June here. Although... you never know. I haven't checked, and have been completely astounded that the tiny bluets in the backyard have not stopped blooming once since spring, even though they are a spring blooming wildflower. Weird year.
Under a huge hemlock tree, drifts of asters bloomed. You may notice how restful the whole garden feels. Families were visiting and there were people wading in the stream, running and playing, and it all fit together.
We also found a fairly large patch of wild Senna. I don't believe I've ever seen this before, or maybe just didn't notice it, but this was sort of thrilling to find.
The stop took us an hour or so and we were only a wee bit off the main road. It was well worth visiting!