After the visit to the Thomas Wolfe home, we drove to the Botanical Gardens at Asheville, North Carolina. It wasn’t all that we hoped that it would be, but it was a relaxing experience. The park was laid out in shaded pathways and open field areas. It had plants in their natural environment. It was a nature park that had the plants that grew there labeled for identification. The labels could be read from the paths. It was less tended and more open to the elements. Foliage was trimmed or cut only to maintain the pathways and the grass cut only in the sunny field areas. It was cool and relaxing, a nice break from driving.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near Ashville. We went to see it next. Its plants are also identified with markers, but the whole arboretum was well maintained as in a formal garden setting. Many of the plants were in large urns and were planted and maintained for the colors of the bloom and the variety of shapes. The plants were trimmed and pruned to give shape and to remove dead bloom and leaves. Everything was placed to enhance the beauty of the garden. Concrete walkways, ramps, and stairs connected the plantings.
One area was planted in purples and yellows and was divided by narrow walkways to resemble a patchwork quilt. The pattern was repeated in each smaller block.
All along the walkways, plants were displayed and were tended so that they would give the maximum impact of color and presentation. They could be flowering bushes, grasses, or trees. Blooming bulbs, lilies, and even pipe stems in a small pool of water. Some of the lilies had pale stems that looked like skeleton arms reaching skyward with the blooms seeming to be pale orange hands.
Planters and urns, filled to overflowing with bright flowers, were tucked in niches for more visual stimulation. There was an area set up to display Bonsai creations. Different artists used different types of trees and plants to shape and dwarf into creations of beauty. One unusual thing that I especially liked was the metal gates. The bars were decorated with metal plants, frogs, and turtles. They were painted a soft olive green that almost blended with the plants that they protected.
The education center and the information center were both newer buildings. The education center had a small cafeteria. The food was delicious. I had the chicken sausage sandwich. It was spicy and good flavored.
After leaving the splendor of this place, we returned for our last night in the “rustic” cabin.