It was an especially good market morning this weekend, even if I did wake up late. I finally met Bernadette from River Garden Farm who grew most of these flowers. She does an amazing job – her flowers are always impeccable. Then as I was wandering off to the subway and juggling my bundles of flowers, Bill Cunningham took a picture of them all and stopped me to ask about the berries. I feel like this mix has his blessing.
Upon reporting of this story, my friend was quick to use it as a reason for me to stay. I hear what he’s saying – New York is where magical things happen. And they’re often magic because you realize it could have happened to hundreds or thousands of other people, but it didn’t. Somehow fate, and New York, conspired for you. Those moments make up for the everyday low-level hum of inconvenience. Look, I admit it, the very same magical day I also yelled at some tourists on the escalator in the Bleecker Street subway station (don’t stand two abreast when we can all see the train is RIGHT THERE).
There are a dozen reasons for leaving and just as many to stay. But I want you to know, even as I begin to close things down here, there’s always a voice in the back of my head saying I can come back whenever I want. People do, for no reason at all.
It turns out that Asheville and surrounding area is the Southern hippie hotspot. Typically, everyone is chatty and pleasant, but there is a higher proportion of tattoos, cold pressed juices, and electric vehicle charging stations. That aside, Biltmore Estate is still the number one (traditional) tourist destination in town and employs 1800+ people. We made the pilgrimage and the house is undeniably beautiful inside – the attention to detail is very impressive – but the gardens lack a similar impulse. Or maybe it is that they stick too close to the original plan and what I read as slightly dull is in fact a commitment to maintaining the historical integrity of the gardens.
Regardless, the drive into the estate is a beautiful introduction to a cultivated woodland and that is continued in the azalea garden that leads into the bass pond. The native azaleas and mountain laurel were blooming, along with some later magnolias, and the first of the stewartia – all things that we don’t see at home. And the diversity, size and sheer number of trees was stunning.
In fact, everywhere the trees were outrageous. I’ve never seen so much forest in my life. You get the sense that towns are veritably hacked out of the overgrowth and it is an effort to maintain open spaces. Plus it is really hilly around there. The Appalachians are no joke. You could not pay me to hike the Appalachian Trail – six months in dense forest with a lot of ascents and descents, plus snakes and bears, sounds like a nightmare.
Back to our trip though. #1 activity? Asheville Pinball Museum. $10 = unlimited plays on all manner of machines. I favored Pinbot, Popeyes and Breakshot. Mom got pretty into Phantom of the Opera and Dad really liked Spiderman. Only $2000 and one could be yours guys!!!
Dome of one of the chapels of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence which was designed by Rafael Guastavino and constructed of tile and mortar
Greatest parking lot I have ever seen at the North Carolina Arboretum
Beech tree of life
Basically what I would do if I owned 400+ acres – create fields ringed with beautiful trees/forest and dotted with specimens. The views around each bend were top notch. TOP NOTCH.
The tree love continues here after a great day trip to the Gold Coast of Long Island. We hit up Old Westbury Gardens and Planting Fields Arboretum. The Arboretum was undoubtedly my favorite, although my friend, a fan of Great Gatsby, was more taken with Old Westbury. Baby B, who also came along for the ride didn’t express a preference towards either, but had mixed reviews about the traffic back into Manhattan. As did we all, B, as did we all.
Classic walled garden at Old Westbury
We hit peak rhodo time at Old Westbury which had some beautiful large specimens. The Arboretum had a lot too, and a wider variety, but not going to lie – Old Westbury sold me on their go big or go home philosophy.
The Arboretum had some beautiful dogwoods which you can sort of make out on the far left and dead center of this photo. The one in the middle had huge flowers with just a hint of blush on the tips. Lovely.
Great time of year for locust trees – their scent is incredible. Apparently the flowers can be used similar to elderflower and used to perfume cakes, etc.
Planting Fields had great greenhouses including this begonia house (of my dreams)!
For reference Uncle D
Sometimes I cross Park Ave on 71st or 73rd on my way to the park and immediately transport to London. It’s all grand townhouses, fancy European shops and the trees looming in the distance. Tonight the air was heavy with the scents of late afternoon rain, linden and honey locust. I wandered to the Shakespeare Garden in honour of the occasion.
I think this time of year is most romantic – the lush spring green of the newly-leaved trees returns softness and intimacy to the landscape. I love them more every day.