2012 Asheville

Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling

Asheville, North Carolina

May 18-21, 2012

Organizers: Christopher, Frances, Helen Yoest, Lisa Wagner, Nan Chase, Rebecca Reed, and Ana Calderin


Asheville Fling 2012 Itinerary

The basic itinerary of the Asheville Fling 2012 is listed by day below. Each day will have its own post (still to come) to fill in a bit more detail and can be reached by the link at the bottom of each days listing (still to come). It is pretty well set in stone, but life is life and stone can crack. Slight change is always a possibility.

Thursday May 17th and Monday May 21st have short overflow events for bloggers who may come early or stay late to spend more time enjoying Asheville and the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Thursday May 17th
RSVP Tour Sow True Seed – 1 to 5 pm
Happy hour meet and greet – Tressa’s downtown – 5pm to 7:30 pm
Explore downtown for dinner
More detail here.

Friday May 18th
West Asheville Gardens
Wamboldtopia – Christopher Mello’s Garden – Burton Street Community Peace Garden - Sunny Point CafĂ© - 9:15am–11:30am
Lunch 12 Bones/Curve Studios with ice cream from The Hop 11:45am – 1:00pm
North Carolina Arboretum – Author led native wildflower walk available 1:30pm – 3:45pm
BB Barnes Nursery 4:15 pm – 5:30pm - Back to hotel.
Explore downtown for dinner

Saturday May 19th
Peter and Jasmin Gentling Garden 9:15am – 11am
Lunch Laurey’s Catering 11:15am – 12:30pm
Biltmore Estate Gardens/ Conservatory 1pm – 4pm - Back to hotel
Dinner Masonic Temple with ice cream from the Hop 6pm – 8:30pm
Blogger Discussion post dinner - finish by 10pm
More detail here.

Sunday May 20th
Haywood Community College Gardens 9:45am – 11am
Bonnie Brae and Ku’ulei ‘Aina, two mountain top gardens 12pm – 3:30pm
Lunch catered by the Sweet Onion on the mountain - 12 pm
Wine and beverages - 2pm
Plant development forum 2pm - while you sip wine and beverages
Back to hotel 3:30pm
Explore downtown for dinner
More detail here.

Monday May 21st
White Gate Inn garden on stroll to
RSVP Continental breakfast edible garden tour at Nan Chase’s 9:00 am – 11am
Explore broader Asheville on your own with list of suggestions
More detail here.

Day three of Asheville Fling 2012 will begin in the parking lot of the Four Points Sheraton with the loading of the buses beginning at 8:45 am. The buses will leave promptly at 9am. Do not miss the bus. Our generous sponsors Corona Tools, the Whitegate Inn and Gardener's Hollow Leg are all helping cover the expense of the buses for the three days of Fling.

The Finale: Sunday For our final day of Fling we will be headed to the country and deep into the woods.

Our first stop after about a 40 minute drive on coach buses with restrooms will be the gardens of Haywood Community College. This is an acre and a half to two acre teaching garden for the horticulture program at the college. It has an extensive collection of trees, shrubs and perennials for plant ID classes. It is also laid out as a garden, not field rows, which makes it a pleasure to visit as a garden destination.

Now a strange thing happened when I contacted the head gardener and asked if I could bring 80 plus garden bloggers to visit the garden. He said they were closed on Sundays period. We could come, but the gates would be closed and we would have to park outside and walk in. I contacted their marketing and media department thinking all this free PR for the horticulture program might entice some interest and the answer was still, we are closed on Sundays. The gates will be closed and you will have to park outside and walk in. No representative from Haywood Community College, other than security, will be there to greet us.

So we will park outside the main gate and walk in to the garden. It might be a hundred yards from the gate to the gardens along a tree lined paved road. You will be practiced at walking distances after your visit to the Biltmore Estate on Saturday.

We will load back on the buses and head into the wilderness at 11:15 am.

Our next stop is the two side by side wild cultivated gardens of Bonnie Brae and Ku'ulei 'Aina high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top. This is the home of the blog Outside Clyde and the roadside vegetable garden with wood chip mulch. There's vegetables in there behind that fence all summer long, I swear.

Lunch will be served first thing when we arrive and is being prepared by The Sweet Onion of Waynesville, NC. After lunch you may wander into the exuberant chaos that are the gardens I call home.

Bulbarella will join us for lunch and the afternoon visit in the gardens. You may ask her anything about her methods of gardening. You may ask her what a particular plant is as long as all you want is a species or common name. If you are looking for a specific cultivar name you will be out of luck. It's pretty. That is all that matters.

A large portion of the three acres of land under semi-cultivation on this mountain top is a shade garden planted directly into the undisturbed forest. Sunnier sections are put to full use for the sun loving perennials. Narrow, undulating, slightly rocky, one person wide foot paths wander through it all.

Walking through this forest wonderland is very much like taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail. STURDY WALKING SHOES ARE ESSENTIAL. This is no place for a fashion statement in footwear.

At 2pm several of our sponsors will be hosting a wine service and plant forum. This will be your chance to get liquored up and tell the growers and marketers what you really want from them in plants and how they are sold to you the gardener.

Hosting this forum are:

Plant Development Services, Inc. works closely with the nation’s top growers and breeders to bring plants to market that solve landscape challenges and have a high impact on the marketplace. With a comprehensive grower network, Plant Development Services is able to manage distribution to all regions and market channels.. Plant Development Services boasts top ranking brands including: Encore® Azalea, Southern Living™ Plant Collection, and the Sunset Western Garden Collection™. For more information on Plant Development Services, visit: http://plantdevelopment.com. 


Kip McConnell, Plant Development Services, Director. Since graduating from Auburn University's Ornamental Horticulture program in 1984, Kip McConnell has built a career in the horticulture industry, gathering experience in a range of areas including botanical garden management, retail merchandising, landscape design and installation, and nursery supply sales.

Steve Bender, the Senior Garden Writer at Southern Living, where he has worked for the last 28 years in what he describes in jest as "to everyone's dismay". He co-authored Passalong Plants with Felder Rushing before there was internet and later edited the. Southern Living Garden Book.

Shelly Gustafson  - Axiom Marketing Communications Account Manager that works on various Home and Garden accounts including Bailey Nurseries on Endless Summer Hydrangeas, First Editions Plants and Easy Elegance Roses Brand PR.  Shelly has been a garden lover from an early age and her first “job” (at ten) was working in the gardens at Como Conservatory in Saint Paul, MN.  She has worked at Axiom for over five years and contributes to the agency’s garden blog 29MinuteGardener.com.

The cozy cabin, Hale Mana will also be open for inspection during our visit to the low spot high on a North Carolina mountain top. Some of you have watched the four year long process of it's construction. Now you will see it in person and what remains to be completed over the next four years.

The buses will leave for downtown Asheville and the hotel promptly at 3:30 pm. Don't miss the bus. It's a long hike back to town.  Enjoy another evening on the town in the perfect weather that is in store for us the entire weekend of the Fling. An information packet has been assembled for every registered attendee and their guest if applicable. We did our best with names, but some in the guest category/groups may remain nameless until they fill in their name tags and a few did not register with last names. So be it.

For those booked at the Four Points Sheraton your information packet will be available for you when you check in. Please ask for your packet when you check in. If you are sharing a room or a party of 2 and the room is not booked under you name and we were not sure who was also in your party, your information packet may not be there. DO NOT PANIC!

Quite a few attendees have found other accommodations and are not staying at the hotel. Information packets will also be given out to that group during the happy hours at Tressa's on Thursday evening. Check Thursday's schedule for more detail info on that event. If you don't have a packet at the hotel it will be at Tressa's. Ohm.....

Between 5pm and 7:30 on Thursday all the information packets will be at Tressa's, not at the front desk of the hotel. If you are coming in late on Thursday and will not be at Tressa's, I know there are a few,  the remaining unclaimed information packets will be taken back to the front desk of the hotel after the event at Tressa's.

The information packets contain:
The Fling Itinerary
Walking guide and map for extra curricular garden touring in the downtown area
A dining guide
Local recommendations for dining.
Map of Asheville downtown and the larger city
Map to the NC Arboretum

Your name tag and Saturday dinner entree choice with a number on it.

DO NOT LOSE  your name tag and dinner choice card with the number on it. The entree choice card has been placed inside your name tag holder. This entree card should be placed on the table when you settle in for dinner to aid the cater waiters in serving dinner.

You will need your name tag to be identified as part of our group to be served at the Biltmore's champagne toast. You will need your entree choice card for Saturday's dinner. No changing your mind on dinner, no substitutions. The number on your entree card will be used for the drawing to give away all the door prize swag we have. And our sponsors have given us some very cool swag.

No entree card with a number on it, chances are good you will eat what you ordered for dinner on the registration form by process of elimination and being the last person served.  No number. No door prize. No chance.

Saturday, May 19th Day two of Asheville Fling 2012 will begin in the parking lot of the Four Points Sheraton with the loading of the buses beginning at 8:45 am. The buses will leave promptly at 9am. Do not miss the bus. Our generous sponsors Corona Tools, the Whitegate Inn and Gardener's Hollow Leg are all helping cover the expense of the buses for the three days of Fling.


The garden of Peter and Jasmin Gentling is located on a mountain above Asheville and is reached by a narrow, barely two lane wide road. There is no parking. It's location will not be disclosed. Be on the bus or you won't see it.

You will be rewarded for following instructions. Two plus acres of a collectors garden on a terraced mountain side await you.

I first visited on a cold and windy day when the first hint of spring was stirring. It was obvious from what I saw that in another couple of months the garden would be filled to overflowing.

I strongly recommend a good pair of walking shoes. The garden is steep with many stone steps going from terrace to terrace. A native woodland garden extends off one end for a nice leisurely stroll. Shrubberies and flowers abound. Two Dawn Redwoods tower above it all.

Lunch will be served in the Gentling garden by Laurey's Catering beginning at 11am. The buses will load and leave for our next stop at 12:30pm.

Now you may certainly enter the Biltmore, our next stop on Saturday on your own. It is a public place. However if you are not on the bus with the garden bloggers you will pay the entry fee that is running around $60 a head for same day tickets. I'd recommend being on the bus. You can use that money to buy plants at the gift shop and nursery behind the conservatory.

When we first enter the estate a staff gardener will join each bus who will be able to give a brief historic overview about Biltmore and Frederick Law Olmsted's impact on the development of the grounds and the forest as we drive the three miles to the gardens. Each attendee will be given a copy of the original 1895 guide map which shows the original planting plans. Staff gardeners will also be stationed at specific places on the grounds for you to ask probing questions while you stroll the magnificent gardens.

At 3pm a champagne toast and social hour will be hosted by Biltmore in the Conservatory. You must be wearing your Asheville Fling 2012 name tag that we will provide in your information packets to be served champagne or other refreshments. There are bound to be several hundred other people milling about. You will need to be identifiable.

We will load the buses and head back to the hotel at 4pm.

Saturday night's dinner is being served at the Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway St. directly across Woodfin St. from the hotel. Dinner begins at 6pm with light pupus - an assortment of timbales served with bread and crackers. Between 6 and 6:45 pm a lodge member will be available for guided tours of this historic building. Dinner will be prepared by and begin being served at 6:45 pm by the Colorful Palate.

Alcohol is not allowed in the Temple. If you are thirsty for more than tea or lemonade there are a couple of bars right across the street. I hear tell if you mention you are at a function at the Masonic Temple you might get a discount, kama'aina rate.

Entree cards with your meal choice will also be in your information packets (placed inside your name tag holder). Bring this card with you. It should be placed where you sit to aid the cater waiters. Your entree card will also have a number on it. This number is for the door prize drawings that will happen at Saturday's dinner. No entree card, no number, no chance of a door prize for you! You will get a swag bag filled with all kinds of garden goodies from our generous sponsors listed in our swag category on the Fling blog. To increase your chances for more garden goodies, don't forget your entree card.

Homemade ice cream, including dairy free options will be scooped up by The Hop for desert. Dinner should conclude around 8:30 pm.

Dinner will be followed by a discussion about the evolution of blogging led by Dee Nash and Pam Penick. This will conclude by 10pm. The lights will dim and flash and it will be time to leave the Masonic Temple for the streets of downtown Asheville.

I hope I have covered everything for Saturday.

Visiting the NC Arboretum (May 18)
We’ll be arriving after lunch in the River Arts District to spend a couple of hours at the NC Arboretum. It’s a big place, so check out some of your options at their website. You’ll also have a map in your registration packet to help you preview your visit.  The Arboretum recently celebrated its 25th anniversary (check out its history here) -- I've seen it expand and develop over the years, and have particularly enjoyed my recent visits as the gardens and trails have matured and expanded. You'll enjoy it!

The Arboretum will have volunteers stationed in the Heritage and Quilt garden areas to answer questions, and visitor services staff in the Baker Exhibit Center can provide further information and brochures.  (While you’re there, don’t miss Wicked Plants: The Exhibit, based on Amy Stewart’s book of the same name, just opening.  I'm planning to go to her presentation tomorrow.

The containers and plantings around the Education Center are always a standout and change seasonally.  The Bonsai Exhibition Garden displays native trees of the Southern Appalachians, and is exceptional, even if you're not that interested in bonsai.

Strolls on the Plants of Promise Garden and the Natural Garden Trail provide an even better look at some of the native plants that make the Southern Appalachian such an exceptionally rich botanical region.

Interested in learning more about native plants of the Southern Appalachians? Join Tim Spira, author of Wildflower and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachians and Piedmont: a Naturalist’s Guide for a closer look of some of our native plants and their ecology on one of two scheduled walks along the Natural Garden Trail in the Arboretum.   Tim’s a plant ecologist, botanist, and Clemson University professor (he’s also a great native plant gardener).

He’ll be starting the first walk right after the buses unload (~1:45 pm.), from the parking lot, with a second walk starting at 2:30 at the entrance to the Plants of Promise garden outside the Education Center.

Friday, May 18th Friday, May 18th marks the official start of Asheville Fling 2012.

Our day will begin in the parking lot of the Four Points Sheraton, the hotel of record, where we will load the buses for our day's journey. The buses will leave promptly at 9am. Boarding will start around 8:40 am. Don't miss the bus! Our generous sponsors Corona Tools, the Whitegate Inn and Gardener's Hollow Leg are all helping cover the expense of the buses.

Our morning will be spent visiting four gardens in West Asheville. Because these are smaller gardens in suburban neighborhoods our capacity crowd would overwhelm them. The buses will be sent on separate routes cutting our group in half for these four garden.

Wamboldtopia is the garden of artist Damaris Pierce and Ricki Pierce, an artist who crafts in stone. Both of their work is on display at Wamboldtopia and the result is utter enchantment.

Christopher Mello is another Asheville artist and gardener with a quasi public garden due to its prime location in West Asheville. Christopher's garden is his play ground and is forever changing as he experiments with merging the botanical and the sculptural. The garden is directly next to his working art studio shared with several other artists. Shopping opportunities will be available.

Who says community gardens can't be filled with art. Dewayne Barton and Safi Mahaba lead the efforts at the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens. Dewayne has filled a food producing garden with art made from salvaged materials.

Sunny Point Cafe kitchen garden is the epitome of farm to table with produce from the gardens out back going directly to the kitchen of this popular West Asheville eatery.

All of the photos above were taken in the fall of 2009. Much has grown and improved at each of these gardens over the years. Once a gardener's passion is ignited, it is rarely extinguished.

Our buses will rendezvous at 11:45 am and the bloggers will become a capacity crowd for lunch in the gardens of Curve Studios directly across the street from 12 Bones BBQ who will be preparing our lunch. Homemade in Asheville ice cream including vegan and dairy free choices will be served up by The Hop for desert. The gardens at Curve Studios are praise worthy in their own right and are the creation of textile artist Pattiy Torno. Curve Studios is actually a three building storefront for several working artists. Shopping opportunities will be available.

After lunch at 1pm the buses will head to the North Carolina Arboretum. Check out the website to help plan your visit. While there, Timothy Spira, author and Professor of Botany, Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University will be offering a guided wildflower walk around the arboretum. He wrote the book, Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont and should have plenty to share.

The exact details of the wildflower walk, whether there will be one walk or two is not quite pinned down. I'll fill that in when I know more.

The buses will leave the NC Arboretum at 3:45 pm. Boarding will start at 3:30, earlier if you just want to rest. Don't miss the bus!

Next we are heading to one of Asheville's premier nurseries, BB Barnes. The nursery will be hosting light pupus, wine and beverages during our visit. With acres of nursery stock, an orchid and houseplant gallery and a gardeners gift shop, you are sure to want to buy something. A 10% discount will be offered on your total purchase while we are there. I know you people. Bring some money to spend.

The buses will leave for the hotel at 5:30 pm. Don't miss the bus! It is a long walk back to downtown from BB Barnes.

Back at the hotel you are free to disperse and enjoy an evening and dinner on the town. Thursday, May 17th As the garden bloggers begin to gather in Asheville for three days of garden touring, networking, socializing and blog talk there will be two pre-events on Thursday afternoon and evening.

First our local sponsor Sow True Seed, at 146 Church St, seller of open pollinated, heirloom and GMO-free seeds will be having an Open House on Thursday afternoon from 1 to 5pm. Members of their team will be on hand to greet the bloggers, provide light refreshments and local beer, answer questions, and show folks around the store and small warehouse as they come by. Sow True Seed is located directly below and behind the new, modern, block long Lexington Station building, basically where Lexington and Church streets join. Access is from the Church Street side.

If you come early or while waiting to check in to your room at the hotel this will be an excellent way to take your first walking tour of down town Asheville. Sow True Seed is a short 15 to 20 minute stroll from the hotel. Here's a map. I recommend the Lexington Ave. route for the ambiance or local color as some prefer.

Walking Map

Thursday evening from 5 to 7:30 pm will be a meet and greet at Tressa's Downtown Jazz and Blues at 28 Broadway. Tressa's is one block from the hotel. If you arrive a little later in the day it will be easy to drop in once you are settled in at the hotel. Tressa's is also pinned on the walking map above.

We have rented the upstairs of Tressa's for our group. There will be a cash bar. Light pupus will be provided to tide you over until your are ready to head to dinner on the town.

And that's Thursday May 17th, warmup for Asheville Fling 2012. REGISTRATION 4-12-2012



If you wish to register on standby, priority will be given to them on a first come first served basis. Spaces will become available either by cancellation or non-payment of the individual cost for the event.

At this point approximately 63 of the 87 total registered attendees have paid their fee. ON APRIL 1ST, 2012 any remaining registrations that have not paid will be reopened to those on the standby list for a two week period.

Registration will be permanently closed on APRIL 15TH, 2012 so a final tally can be given to all food vendors and swag providers.


Our itinerary is set. The costs have been tabulated. The per person charge for Asheville Fling 2012 is $135.00. So much for confident promises. I was only $10 off. This covers all bus transportation for three days, rental/entry fees at six venues, three lunches, one dinner, ice cream treats, beverages at three afternoon social hours and a partridge in a rhododendron bush.

Click on the link below for the official registration form. A new window will open. Fill out the form and click submit. You will receive an email response with directions for your payment from our treasurer. This will be a human time response not a computer time response. Once your payment is received you will be double officially registered and your blog will appear in the attendees listing.

Short Note: Biltmore Rocks! The discount entry offer on the registration form to return to the Biltmore Estate to see the house - we will only be touring the gardens - is good for 4 adults and 4 children with no expiration date.

Registration Form