Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Springtime in Western North Carolina

Springtime in Western North Carolina is an awakening for the senses. While every season here in Asheville and its neighboring towns has something unique to offer its visitors and residents, there's nothing quite like the renewal of life and the burgeoning beauty you'll find this time of year.

Perhaps you have stayed here during a family vacation or special family gathering. Maybe you were here for a secluded romantic getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Possibly you visited downtown Asheville for the day or for the weekend. Regardless, we are sure you noticed the stunning flora that besets the mountains and the rivers of the countryside, the verdant landscapes that abound, and the dotting of downtown streets and structures with flowers and greenery.

If you haven't been to Asheville yet, it's a great time to come and see it for yourself! There are a couple of ways you can learn even more about our surroundings here (and even have the chance to take some with you).

This weekend presents a perfect opportunity to get first-hand insight and access to what's growing in this part of the state. The 18th Annual "Growin' in the Mountains" Spring Garden Show kicks off on Friday, April 27 from 9a.m. to 6p.m. and continues through Saturday, April 28 from 9a.m. to 4p.m. Here you'll find everything from herbs, vegetable starts, annual and perennial flowers, irises, shrubs, and succulents to dwarf conifers, Japanese maples, hostas, edible landscaping plants and so much more. This is a free, one-time yearly event where you can purchase from and talk directly to the growers themselves. Also on-site you'll find experts from the America Iris Society, North American Conifer Society, and North American Branch Maple Society. 

The Western North Carolina (WNC) Farmers Market is the venue for the Spring Garden Show. It's conveniently located near downtown Asheville on a thirty-six acre site that boasts a panoramic view of the mountains, and the Biltmore Estate. If you can't make it to the WNC Farmers Market this weekend, be sure to stop by any day of the week. The market is open 7 days a week from 8a.m. to 6p.m., April through October (8a.m to 5p.m. November through March). You'll find high quality fruits and vegetables, mountain crafts, jams, jellies, preserves, sourwood honey, fresh baked breads, cookies, and so much more.

When we're talking about the floral beauty of this area, we can't forget to mention that the Biltmore’s 27th Annual Festival of Flowers is going on now and continuing through May 20. Tulips numbering in the thousands accompanied by dynamic floral displays across the estate celebrate master horticulture planner Frederick Law Olmsted's legacy. While you're here, be sure to check out Biltmore’s restaurants for special menu items and commemorative Festival of Flowers wine and wine seminars at the winery.

Whew, we have so much we love about Western North Carolina in the spring, and we enjoy sharing it with you. We also love hearing from you, so be sure to tell us about some of your favorite springtime sights and sounds in Asheville and beyond in our comment section!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Celebrate Earth Day in Asheville

It's hard to imagine a more idyllic setting than western North Carolina to celebrate Earth Day this upcoming weekend. If you live in the area, be sure to come out and celebrate with us and learn more about promoting and protecting our local environment . If you don't live here, it's the perfect opportunity to bring your family or your friends (or better yet, bring them all) to Asheville, NC. Drink in the spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, inhale the cool fresh air, and gaze upon all of the lush spring foliage this area has to offer this time of year.

In addition to immersing yourself in our relaxing natural surroundings (which is reason enough to visit or reside here), plan to take some time out to visit some of the Earth Day celebrations that are going on locally. There is something for everyone to enjoy with an educational and cultural focus on what we can all do to increase sustainability, conservation, and appreciation of our earth.

In downtown Asheville on Saturday April 21, you can find the 5th Annual Asheville Earth Day Festival happening on Lexington Avenue beginning at noon and continuing until 10p.m. This is a free festival that has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Check out some of the featured Asheville Earth Day Festival highlights this year:
  • Musicians from various genres including special performances from Underhill Rose, New Orleans Suspects, Mark Farina Mushroom Jazz, The Fritz, and Floodwood (members of Moe).
  • Leaf in Schools and Streets performance.
  • Eco-friendly speakers.
  • A Kids Village that provides fun and educational activities encouraging environmental awareness.
  • An Eco-Village highlighting non-profit and local business organizations providing demonstrations, exhibits, and performances on community involvement in environmental change.
  • Food from Green Light Cafe, local vendors, and more!
  • (We could tell you more but we think you should come and see for yourself!)
If you're thinking of heading out of downtown Asheville that day, Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa is also hosting an Earth Day celebration on its campus from 8a.m. to 4p.m. which features a family-friendly day of presentations, workshops, and old-time music. Events are free except that some workshops require a small materials fee. The theme here centers around Sustaining Our Mountain Culture and Environment and promoting skills for acting locally.

Some additional Earth Day at Warren Wilson College features include:
  • Western North Carolina Plein Air Painters (WNCPAP) will be on hand painting various pastoral scenes from the Swannanoa Valley setting. The artwork painted that day will be available for sale from 4-5p.m. with WNCPAP donating 30 percent of the sales to support programs of Warren Wilson's Environmental Leadership Center. 
  • Fiddles & Folklife is an annual Appalachian folklife festival and old-time music competition held from noon to 5p.m. at the Bryson Gym on campus. There are categories for fiddle, banjo and string band, including a youth category (ages 16 and under) for banjo and fiddle.
  • Other activities include horse-drawn wagon rides, cakewalks, jam sessions, food and craft vendors, fiber arts, blacksmithing and other folklife demonstrations. 
We hope we have whet your appetite for some of the fun (and informative) things happening here this weekend. If so, make your plans now! If you can't make it this weekend, come see us any time of the year. There are always things to see and do here that we know you will enjoy.

Asheville Connections has a wide variety of vacation rentals to suit your specific needs. We offer everything from condos to cabins, chalets to luxury homes, and so much more. We can help you find accommodations in downtown Asheville if you're looking for convenience to this weekend's festival.

Do you have a favorite Asheville activity? We always love hearing about your Asheville adventures so please share them with us in our comment section!