Friday, April 29, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Notes the 22nd Annual Spring Herb Festival!

Yup, this is the 22nd time that we here at this Asheville bed and breakfast have had the opportunity to go and shop for herbs...herbs for our garden and herbs that will make their way to your breakfast table when you stay with us. The Spring Herb Festival is held this weekend...actually starting today, April 29th...at the WNC Farmers Market.

At least 60 growers and vendors are on hand with fresh herb plants, herbal essences and oils. You'll also find gardening tips, books, rain barrels as well as handmade soaps and medicinal herbs. So if you have the opportunity to come to Asheville (also to our bed and breakfast!)this weekend, be sure to stop by the WNC Farmers Market, located on Brevard Road, at exit 47 from I-40. It's on from 9am-5pm today and Saturday and on Sunday, May 1st, from 10am-3pm. Always feels like Spring is here when you get to start your newest herbs in pots or in your garden! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Asheville Bed and Breakfast, "A Bit of Britain Close to Home" will be recording the Royal Wedding on Friday!

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, here in Asheville, NC has had as its sub-title, "A Bit of Britain Close to Home" since I renovated this wonderful 1909 Colonial Revival house in Asheville's Montford Historic District and founded the bed and breakfast Inn in 1993.

The English roots belong both to me, as well as to the house. While I did not know it at the time I purchased the house and renovated it from top to bottom to make it Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, the architect who designed it for Asheville business-owner D.L Jackson and his family was a man named Richard Sharp Smith. And Richard Sharp Smith had been the on-the-ground, supervising architect for the five years it took to build Biltmore House and Biltmore Village for George Vanderbilt from 1890-1895.

The connection of Richard Sharp Smith to this Asheville bed and breakfast was discovered in January 1994, after I had opened the house as Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn. Some friends were at the Historic Archives at Asheville NC City Hall and found an entire set of floor plans, on hand-made linen paper, each page signed by Richard Sharp Smith. It also turned out that Richard Sharp Smith was himself British.

As for "A Bit of Britain Close to Home", the name Abbington Green originates as one of the places in the U.K. where my father's ancestors had lived, generations ago. And on my first visit to Britain in the mid-1980s, I felt as if I had 'arrived home'. Very odd, I thought at the time, but also enitrely unmistakable. I am indeed, an unabashed "Anglophile", loving their gardens, ancient architecture, literature, music and art...and indeed their language! So, it is really not surprising that this Asheville bed and breakfast reflects the spirit of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in our gardens, furniture and furnishings.

So, will you be watching on Friday for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London? Coverage on various networks will start here in the U. S. Eastern time zone at 3am or 4am or 5am! So, while I hope to watch it "live" on the 55" HD LED 3-D TV in the Kensington Garden Suite here at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, I am happy, as you probably are, that we have DVR or similar devices to record this wonderful bit of British 'pomp and circumstance'. I do believe that nobody does a huge royal event like the British. And also, nobody does millinery like the Brits! Can't wait to see all the hats!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Asheville Gardener's note: Tree Peonies Bloom at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast




One of the most glorious sights at our Asheville bed and breakfast gardens...and there are many...is the blooming of Tree Peonies "paeonia suffruticosa". Not to be confused with the other garden peonies that we know and love, "paeonia lactifolia" that will bloom in May, Tree Peonies are a woody shrub that produces short-lived but huge, showy, multi-layered blooms that are open each year the end of April.

Originating in the Far East, you may have seen these Tree Peonies blossoms in Chinese paintings and as designs on drapery, upholstery or dress fabrics. Although the actual flowers last only a few precious days, and may even be cut short in our Asheville bed and breakfast gardens by a strong rain, having the "real thing" is a stunning addition to your enjoyment in the Spring gardens at Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn. So take a look at the "show" they are putting on today.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Festivals and Events Makes This Asheville Bed and Breakfast Smile Today!

Asheville and the surrounding area are very fortunate again to have splendid, sunny and warm weather for this Easter weekend. We're done, for the present, with the clouds and the rain. And at this Asheville bed and breakfast, we're more than ready to step out and enjoy fresh, Spring air!

Events and festivals are all around this weekend, too. Today, Saturday, "Easter-on-the-Green" in Downtown Asheville from 2-6pm. It's free and you can enjoy an egg hunt, games and (not to be missed) photo-op with the Easter Bunny!.

Meanwhile, across the river over in West Asheville, the "All Go West" festival is on from noon to 10pm with kids' activities, music and fashion. This is an opportunity to walk around and check out the part of Asheville that's known for its "hip-ness", trendiness and fresh 'take' on things.

If you find your way over near the Grove Park neighborhood, be sure to stop by at the Grovewood Easter Egg Hunt at 11am, right by the Grovewood Gallery and the Grovewood Cafe. These historic structures are a wonderful backdrop for the sound of giggling 2-9 year old children as they find the hidden egg-treasures and meet the Easter Bunny himself!

Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, look for sunrise services at Chimney Rock and elsewhere around the area. And at Biltmore Estate, for kids up to and including 9 years old, an Easter Egg Hunt will take place at 11am, 1pm and again at 3pm on the Front Lawn at Biltmore House. Magic shows, storytelling, music and, of course, the Easter Bunny will be on hand!

So our Asheville bed and breakfast is wishing you and your family a joyous Easter and hope you have plenty of time to enjoy special time in Asheville, too.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Smiles Because It Looks Like a Gorgeous Easter Weekend

You hear a lot about the weather from our Asheville bed and breakfast. And there are several reasons for that. One is that we want travelers to have a safe and fun journey on their way into Asheville, North Carolina...and that is much more likely if the weather you encounter is fair, or at least not stormy. If you're driving up the mountain to get here or flying into Asheville, fair weather is better!

Second, Asheville has so many varied things to do once you arrive...and good weather (ie, not too stormy) can add greatly to your enjoyment. Lively outdoor activities or just strolling along to window shop in Downtown Asheville are enhanced if "Mother Nature" is in a cooperative mood!

Third, especially as a person who appreciates gardens, wandering around outdoors whether it's at our Asheville bed and breakfast English-style gardens or just about anywhere around town, part of your vacation should also include 'not being in a hurry'. And that's a lot more fun in good weather.

This Easter weekend starting tomorrow, it looks like "Mother Nature" will indeed be on your side. The flowers, the air, perhaps church on Sunday after breakfast at out Asheville bed and breakfast, perhaps a visit to Biltmore Estate with its' "Festival of Flowers"can all be expected to occur in very warm and very fine weather. See you shortly!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Gardener's Note: The Chartreuse Garden Starts to Bloom



Gardeners are people who, you will find, generally are enthusiastic about sharing their experiences. Gardening knowledge is something of a verbal tradition.Many have acquired their knowledge from parents or siblings or teachers who have been blessed with the proverbial "green thumb". Others, like me, have been happy to find that gardeners have often 'taken notes' and also have drawn or painted pictures to show those of us who follow after them what they have learned. So whether it's an Asheville bed and breakfast garden like mine, or some well placed pots on a patio, a garden can be creative and bring happiness to your home.

I would expect that there may be as many ways to make a garden plan as there are gardeners. Even I, who came to design my first gardens for my Asheville bed and breakfast just after passing age 50, can think of quite a few. One of my favorites is first to choose an architectural plan, and then for the plant material, to choose a predominant color.

Those of you have been to England or seen glorious books that include photos of famous English gardens may have seen "the White Garden" at Sissinghurst Castle that was designed by Vita Sackville-West. It is filled with many glorious varieties of white flowers, as you would expect from its name. But even exquisite white flowers need another color to contrast, to draw attention and to show the white ones to their best possible advantage.

At this Asheville bed and breakfast, the gardens are English in spirit, using both English design and exact plant varieties you would have found in "the West country" of England a hundred years ago. Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast "Chartreuse Garden", as you might expect, has a number of varieties of flowering shrubs, perennials and annuals that are yellow and greenish yellow...chartreuse. For contrast, we have included white flowers and some purple varieties in this garden to show off the chartreuse throughout the year.

In February and early March, the Winter Jasmine blooms bright yellow when everything else looks gray and lifeless from winter. But now is the time when the wonderful chartreuse Euphorbias bloom. Not actually flowers, the 'bracts' of the euphorbia varieties are bright with color now. We hope you'll enjoy them now and, perhaps, add some to your gardens soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Reminder from Asheville Bed and Breakfast: the Beer Season is Beginning in Asheville!

Did you know this? I would have to admit I never thought of it that way! Yes, at our Asheville bed and breakfast we are happy to pass on the information: There IS a "Beer Season". And what's more, it's beginning just about now!

Now you may recall that Asheville has won the national popular vote and is now designated "Beer City USA". But Asheville history in the art of beer goes back to the first micro-brewery established in the mid-1990s and a couple of years later, the "Brewgrass Festival". This year, 2011 will mark the fifteenth year of that festival. And this all focuses on craft-made, small batch beers.

Beers and beer-making has been developing a certain 'cache' with a vocabulary that may one day rival that of fine wine. As Galileo Galilei said, "Wine is sunlight held together by water". The image is enchanting. And beer lingo and 'tasting rooms' and tastings are definitely moving in that direction.

Our Asheville bed and breakfast is in the Montford Historic District, very convenient to Pack Square in Downtown Asheville where two of the "Beer Season" festivals are going to be happening soon: May 1st is the " Just Economics, Just Brew It" home brew festival. And on June 4th the "Beer City Festival" happening will be happening!

So mark your calendars "beer aficianados". Come to visit our Asheville bed and breakfast and take in the "Beer Season" in Asheville, North Carolina.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Asheville's Orange Peel Venue, Just Minutes Away from our Asheville Bed an d Breakfast, meets "Rockabilly" Wanda Jackson

Yes, Asheville is lucky again. And our Asheville bed and breakfast lines up with so many in Asheville to applaud the variety of big names that make their way to Asheville's Orange Peel to very appreciative crowds of all ages.

This Sunday, April 17th is no exception. Wanda Jackson, was on the recording charts in the 1950s (along with her boyfriend Elvis Presley). She's still going strong. And we know that if you said, "Everybody loves rock and roll", you'd be right almost all the time.

In a time when the recording world and performing world were filled with names like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and, of course Elvis, Wanda Jackson was touring almost year round and building her career. And here we are all these years later, and she's still having fun with old music and new.

So plan to stay with us at our Asheville bed and breakfast this weekend and on Sunday head Downtown to the Orange Peel at 8pm to see Wanda Jackson. Very likely she'll "knock your socks off"!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Women In the Arts" Show Gets a 'thumbs up' from this Asheville Bed and Breakfast

Long before I started this Asheville bed and breakfast, I lived in New York City's Greenwich Village from 1964 to 1976. It was a well-spring of artists, writers and musicians...and it already had been so for decades. Not only were Miles Davis and Bob Dylan around, but you could count on the galleries to be filled with "traditional" as well as "avant-garde" works of sculptors and artists. And twice a year you could also count on having the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show fill the area around Washington Square Park with a broad-spectrum of artists, both with and without talent. Both "tacky" and fantastic were often side-by-side in that show.

During that time, many women were also attempting to exhibit their work. But even the most respected galleries and museums in New York and elsewhere were regularly excluding women artists from their shows. A response to this resulted in the 1971 founding of "Women in the Arts". whose founders included the likes of Lee Krasner, an abstract expressionist, and figurative and abstract expressionst painter Elaine de Kooning.

What did people do in the 70s, having learned from the 60s? They protested! As a group, "Women in the Arts" protested at New York's Whitney Museum in 1971...(You may recall that one of the Whitney's most visible supporters during that time was Jackie Kennedy.) The group moved on to protest at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in 1972. They were back at the Whitney in protest in 1977 and a second time at the MOMA in 1984.

The pattern here: historically women have had to push and work hard to make strides toward equality in voting rights, in workers rights... and also in the arts! And it's never quite over.

So the 20+ of the 75 Asheville NC artists who are currently members of the "Women in the Arts Foundation" are proud to bring you an exhibition, "River of Art, From New York to Asheville". It starts this Saturday, April 16th with a reception from 5:30-8pm. The exhibit runs through May 15th at "310 Art" located at Riverview Station, 191 Lyman Street in Asheville NC River Arts District.

We hope you'll take advantage of this important exhibition while staying at our Asheville bed and breakfast here in the Montford Historic District... We are just minutes from the River Arts District and "River of Art, From New York to Asheville", through May 15th. Visit www.310art.com for more information about the show.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast is Happy that Asheville"Tourists" Baseball Season Has Five Dates with Fireworks, too!





Warmer weather is here...and what do you think of when the weather is warm? Why Baseball, of course! And our Asheville bed and breakfast is always happy each Spring when the Asheville Tourists Baseball Club season gets underway!

Yup, you've got it! Asheville NC has a baseball team! And it's great fun to attend "minor league" games. Why? Because anything can happen.

Ever wondered what it's like to see a 95 mph fastball from the on-deck circle? When was the last time you saw an inside-the-ballpark-home-run?
Well, "sports fans" this is the place for you! Terrific seats, low price and a laugh or two with the Tourists Ball Club mascot, "Teddy Tourist".
And the Asheville Tourists' home is McCormick Field that originally dates from 1924. Of course, it's been renovated recently and the food is great, too. You may also recall McCormick Field as the place where, in the movie "Bull Durham", the character played by Kevin Costner hits his 248th career home run. Sure enough, that was Asheville!

And the 2011 Asheville Tourists season also includes five special Baseball and Fireworks Event dates:

Friday, June 3rd
Monday, July 4th; Tuesday, July 5th; Friday, July 22nd; Friday, August 5th
So book your dates to stay at our Asheville bed and breakfast in Asheville's Montford Historic District and plan to get out to the game!

"Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. I don't care if we never get back..." You'll be humming the tune and remembering special moments from your great weekend of fun and baseball in Asheville. See you soon!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast is Pleased that "This Old House" has named our Montford Historic District " Best Old-House Neighborhood in North Carolina!

We at this Asheville bed and breakfast are just 'tickled pink' that This Old House magazine has just named Asheville NC Montford Historic District as "Best Old-House Neighborhood" in North Carolina! The editors have created a list of 64 neighborhoods, one from each state plus one from Puerto Rico, and 12 Canadian cities. The list focuses on those neighborhoods with a promising future, strong communities and homes that deserve long-term commitment. Hooray!

Those of you who own an older home or want to own one or just really love classic homes may be very familiar with This Old House magazine. It is a treasure-trove of information, history and resources for renovating and maintaining old houses. It also highlights areas in the US and Canada where older-home neighborhoods are thriving. We are pleased to be part of that focus.

Our Asheville bed and breakfast is located in the Montford Historic District on a quiet street called Cumberland Circle. The district is a sizable area comprising more than 600 structures that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. Both our house, designed by Biltmore Supervising Architect Richard Sharp Smith and our Carriage House, built in the 1920s, are on the National Register listing.

The Montford Historic District in Asheville NC is also home to eleven bed and breakfasts... and I am pleased to be the 'longest surviving B&B Innkeeper' in the area!. This is my 19th season here. I am also the last of the Innkeepers who actually converted an historic house into a bed and breakfast in the Montford Historic District here in Asheville!

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn was actually the 10th bed and breakfast to open in this lovely neighborhood. What that means is that by 1993, nine other B&Bs were already open. The 'first generation' of Innkeepers here in Montford were the brave folk who invested their life-savings in a dream of owning an historic home and starting their own business. And in doing so, they (we) lovingly brought back to life many run-down, neglected homes with an historic past...some of which were on the list for imminent demolition!

Today, all the bed and breakfasts here in Montford except Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn have been sold several times over. Some of these Asheville bed and breakfasts have their 5th set of owners since I have been here. We are fortunate that with each new owner, the commitment to the preservation and improvement of this great neighborhood has remained strong.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast Invites Everyone to Arbor Day on April 9th

Some of you may be thinking about visiting Asheville, NC this weekend...some of you may be thinking about moving to Asheville in the future...some of you already live here... Come meet "new friends" for an Arbor Day Project that will benefit lots of people now and into the future. Oh, yes, this will also require a little good, old-fashioned exercise!

This Asheville bed and breakfast is sure that this will be a great way to feel really good about 1. celebrating Arbor Day on April 9th, 2. beautifying an area that will be enjoyed long into the future by lots of people, visitors and residents alike and 3. meeting other folks who value beauty and history and will work that day to help make this project happen!

The Arbor Day Celebration here in Asheville, on Saturday, April 9th, will gather people together volunteering to plant trees...lots and lots of trees at the Aston Park Tennis Center. Many old trees have come down over time, so planting shade trees will contribute to the beauty and comfort of everyone who uses the Park.So consider dropping by from 11am-1pm and then stay for some refreshments.

Don't really know how to plant a tree? No to worry. Sponsors of this event include Asheville Green Works, the Asheville Tree Commission, Asheville Parks and Recreation and others. Arborists and landscapers will also be there to help, give guidance, and supply tools. So come on over! Help plant oak trees, linden, maple, serviceberry and cedars while you meet neighbors, future neighbors or committed visitors! Y'all come and stay at our Asheville bed and breakfast, and celebrate Arbor Day at Aston Park!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Asheville Bed and Breakfast Agrees that the Asheville Area has become the " Silicon Valley of Sustainable Food"

Yes, that's what a gentleman named Peter Marks of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project recently dubbed the Asheville, NC and the region of Western North Carolina. "Cool name", you say. "But what does that actually mean? Why call it that? I thought Asheville and the surrounding area was home to artists, not farms."

Yes, again. There are indeed a great many artists in he Asheville NC area. But reason to call it the "Silicon Valley of Sustainable Agriculture" is that the number and variety of farms producing organic, sustainable products, including meats, has grown many times over in the last ten years. Ten years ago less than 10 farms were raising and selling meats directly to consumers. Now that number is about 90.

Why Asheville and the western part of North Carolina? Several reasons come to mind. It is clear that in and around Asheville NC, where our Asheville bed and breakfast is located, there is a market for fresh food including organic produce and meat from humanely treated animals ...without the hormones and antibiotics that have crept into the U.S. food supply. As the bulk of U.S. production of meat and vegetables has been consolidated into fewer large corporations, more "output" has resulted in more non-organic methods and the wide use of chemicals.

And since Asheville is a place where many people "think outside the box"(or even refuse to believe that there is a "box") when it comes to deciding how to live ones' life... it seems perfectly logical that "organic" and "pure", "sustainable" and "with regard to all aspects of the environment" would all be things that are important to the people of Asheville and the area.

So, don't expect one tailgate market...there are many. Can't get to a tailgate market on Saturday? No matter, there are several on weekdays, too. Want restaurants that also support local farmers and have organic items on the menu? Not to worry, there are many. In Downtown Asheville, just a half mile from our Asheville bed and breakfast, you'll find The Market Place Restaurant, Early Girl, the Laughing Seed and others who can measure putting their "sustainability" "local" and "organic " philosophies into everyday use on their menus in years. Yes, Asheville has been out there 'walking the walk' of sustainability for a long time.

Even better to see farmers organizing and working together to support the opening of a nearby USDA poultry plant so that farmers can actually expand their operations without giving up their wholesome methods and beliefs. Healthier, more accessible food for all. A goal that we heartily support at this Asheville bed and breakfast,Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn, right here in the Montford neighborhood of Asheville, NC. Eat hearty!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

An Asheville Bed and Breakfast Knows Where the Chocolate is!




About 2 1/2 years ago, I was talking to my (then 5 year-old) granddaughter on the phone. I told her there was a really wonderful place in Downtown Asheville ( so it is not far from our bed and breakfast), that has wonderful chocolate. And its name is The French Broad Chocolate Lounge. There was silence on the phone for a few seconds while my granddaughter thought about what I had just told her. Then she said, " Grand'mere, are the chairs made out of chocolate? Are the tables made out of chocolate? Are the walls made out of chocolate?"

Ah, the mind of a child! How wonderful to envision the French Broad Chocolate Lounge as a place that's actually made of chocolate! So, I said to her, "Well, you know I'm not actually sure about that. So when we go there with your Aunt Julie and your Uncle Bob (a confirmed, card-carrying "Chocoholic"!), we will check for you and let you know. In fact, I'll take my camera and send you some pictures in an e-mail. OK?"

So, we did. And the answer is, "No, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is not actually made of chocolate. But, it is a "way-cool" place to eat or drink amazing chocolate treats, prepared by some people for whom chocolate is a life-passion. Dan and Jael, the owners put their heart and soul into chocolate. And it shows.They support sustainable agriculture,and fresh local ingredients. All the sort of business and community philosophy that this Asheville bed and breakfast is proud also to support.

Since all of Downtown Asheville NC is actually a Wi-Fi zone, any cafe becomes a 'cyber-cafe'. So you'll always find a variety of people at the Chocolate Lounge including people with their laptop or notebook computer in front of them along with some superb coffee or tea or a glass of wine from the considerable list, and chocolate in some form.

And the menu is a sight to see. Hand-made truffles, naturally.Made in smal batches with really fresh ingredients. Some with cayenne, some with tea, some with chai spices, some with maple and sea salt...the list is huge and very intriguing.Chocolate desserts ( and a few non-chocolate items such as creme brulee, maybe with lavender as an extra flavor) also include cakes, superb brownies, cookies and tarts. And don't forget ice cream scoops, floats or that "a la mode" experience on one of those decadent desserts.

Cheese plates are also available for the wine-and-cheese moments. And you'll find beer on tap from some of Asheville NC local breweries.( And since Asheville NC has been voted "Beer City USA" this year, you can be certain that the beers are also very fine indeed.)

If you needed one more fine reason to visit Asheville (also to include our Asheville bed and breakfast), you can happily put the French Bread Chocolate Lounge on your list!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This Asheville Bed and Breakfast Celebrates Early Flowering of Trees, Shrubs and Vines







The word I was searching for is "ephemeral". What a great word it is to so perfectly describe the flowering of many of Spring's trees, shrubs and vines. They arrive, spread their own individual brand of Spring glory, and a week or so later, they have passed the proverbial "baton" on to the next flowering variety. I look forward to them, love their bloom-time and then am always a little sad at their passing.

At our Asheville bed and breakfast, the gardens are quite extensive and quite "English". In the mid-1990s, I designed them and built the separate garden spaces, or "Rooms". Creating individually-themed gardens, separated by walls or fencing or high hedges so as to make each "Room" a unique experience, became a more common style of garden-plan in the late-19th century in England. I enjoy many English gardens just for those reasons: "individual" and "unique".

Today we're talking about one Spring flowering tree, one early Spring shrub and one early flowering vine. The reason is: they are all blooming at this very moment. You would absolutely notice the tree and probably notice the shrub, but you might even miss the fact that the vine flowers at all.

The tree is: "Cercis canadensis", more commonly known as Eastern Redbud. Seems odd to call it "redbud" because the flowers are not really seen as buds and the blooms are definitely not red. What they are is glorious! Before almost any tree in this area has its leaves, you can see these fabulous blossoms, hugging the stems of the tree, in their rose-pink-to-deep-lavender colors. A sure sign that Spring is starting in earnest. The form of the tree itself gives one an "Oriental" sense and they can reach 25-25 feet high in the right situation...although in my back garden, they are more like 20-25 feet. The tree is actually a legume, related to peas...and so it might not surprise you to find that the flowers are edible and the seed pods that appear in the Summer can be stir-fried before they become completely ripe.

The shrub is : "Viburnum burkwoodii". It is generally an "understorey" plant that can reach15 feet high if left to its own devices, but can be pruned to keep it at 6-8 feet without difficulty. It prefers dappled sun to direct sunshine, but does better with more rather than less sun. At our Asheville bed and breakfast we have 5 of these wonderful shrubs...located next to the front porch and in the "Shade Garden" that is to the south side of the house. At this time of year baseball-size clusters of multiple white blooms with rose-colored throats burst forth from rose-colored buds. They are so lovely nodding in the Spring breeze. But the 'piece de resistance' for this shrub is the fragrance of those blossoms. On a calm, warm Spring day, the entire front porch smells like vanilla! Marvelous!

The vine is : "Akebia quinata". From the name you might guess that this vine produces leaf clusters with five leaves each...and you'd be right! And some of this vine's detractors refer to Akebia the same way most of us refer to Kudzu. In the wrong spot, I have been told, this vine will run wild and be very hard to control. At Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast, however, we have several of these...three climbing metal poles that come up and over the back porch area and others along lattice fencing along the perimeter of the gardens at the south side of the house. Akebia grows quickly, but can be trained each season to trail along the poles or fences. And in Winter, we cut it back hard so it will "do its thing" again the next Spring and Summer. The vine does bloom, but you need to look carefully and you need to look NOW. We have two colors of Akebia: one is white and the other is called "chocolate" for the tiny reddish-brown blooms that cluster on the vines now. The flowers have always reminded me of tiny ladies' purses...very sweet, indeed!

So as always, Asheville NC and our bed and breakfast offer fun, flowers and the wonders of Springtime. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Asheville Bed and Breakfast notes the start of "Festival of Flowers"


Each year for the past 23 years,Spring has been heralded by Biltmore Estate. (Biltmore House is also fondly called by this Asheville bed and breakfast, "George Vanderbilt's 'unique, little fixer-upper'"...just kidding) From early Spring and into mid- May, Biltmore Estate celebrates with the "Festival of Flowers". And it starts this weekend!

Now if you have never seen Biltmore Estate here in Asheville, North Carolina, you are in for a varied and interesting experience...any time of year. But in the Spring, the grounds and gardens, and even the interior of the house, are filled with lovely blooms. That's no accident. About 100,000 tulip bulbs are waiting for you as well as flowering trees, followed by azaleas, then followed by rhododendrons.

Originally, George Vanderbilt purchased 125,000 acres of property next to Asheville, NC and well out into the Blue Ridge mountains. He had "purchased his view" when he built the huge chateau-style house and first lived there in the 1890s. As you might imagine, the views from the house are spectacular at any season...George Vanderbilt literally owned everything he could see, plus more. If you look out from the loggia,a porch that runs the full length of the long living room, you can see a mountain in the distance with a radio tower on it. It's Mt. Pisgah and it's miles away. George Vanderbilt also built a hunting lodge just below the summit there.

Today, Biltmore Estate still includes 8,000 acres of property...the house, pastures, wine grape vineyards, and so on. And Spring is definitely a wonderful time to see it all. Late daffodils, all those tulip varieties and other bulbs are an immense delight. Some of the gardens, including those in the Walled Garden near the house, have so many plants that it feels as if you're looking at an amazing "sea" of blossoms.This is one of those times when "bigger is better"!

It's easy to get to Biltmore from our Asheviile NC bed and breakfast. We're located just a half mile north of Downtown Asheville North Carolina and Biltmore Estate's entry is across town...about 2 1/2 miles from us on the south side of Downtown Asheville.Just a few minutes and you'll be on the Estate property.

Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast is pleased to offer a special Biltmore Estate "Two-Consecutive Day Pass" for the price of a one day ticket! You can't get this ticket at Biltmore...but you can get it at our Asheville bed and breakfast! The price is $60. per person for this adult pass and it also offers entry into the house on each of those days, if you like. the "Two-Consecutive Day Pass" offers a lot of flexibility for you about how you choose to see Biltmore. It can be two long days or breaking your visit into two "bite-size-chunks"...the choice will be yours!

We look forward to meeting you this Spring at our Asheville bed and breakfast and sharing your celebration of Biltmore Estate's "Festival of Flowers" through May 15th. See you soon!