By Katie Benfield
On Friday, June 23, the Blowing Rock Garden Club held its annual Mile of Flowers in downtown Blowing Rock. The event was geared towards allowing the general public to view the stunning gardens of homes and churches throughout the village of Blowing Rock.
“This was our fifth tour that we’ve done. We’ve done it every other year since 2009,” Marcia Quinn, the Chair of Securing the Gardens, said. “We’ve always had great and wonderful gardens, and this year was as wonderful as it could ever be.”
Along with the tours of the gardens of homes, the Rumple Presbyterian and St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church presented their gardens for the event.
“Those gardens were beautifully done,” Quinn said.
Susan Sweet, Publicity Chairperson for the Mile of Flowers, stated that after the event, when she was on her way to the car, multiple people kept stopping her to rave about what a wonderful day they had had touring the gardens.
“It was a big success,” Sweet said. “We had a lot of people show up the day of the event, and it was a wonderful day.”
Neither Quinn nor Sweet knew the exact number of people in attendance, but that hardly matters. Both estimated that there were probably around 200 people that arrived for the event, and regardless of number, it was a successful, beautiful and community-oriented tour of some amazing gardens.
According to Quinn, all of the members of the Blowing Rock Garden Club were fully involved with the event, whether they helped with planning, cooking and baking, creating handmade and homemade items or manning the boutique and tea party.
“This year, the tea party was held at the American Legion Building, and all members provided food for that,” Quinn said. “This event is really a truly total involvement of our membership in order for this to happen.”
The gardens involved were as follows (Written by Marcia Quinn):
- The Carter-Horner Gardens – The home and gardens of Morgan and Jack Horner are hidden under towering trees and rhododendrons. The shade garden path, sunny Victorian flower garden, herb garden, white garden, trellis and wooded lawn all give visitors multiple vistas to explore. The past bordered by hostas has recently been extended. The Horner’s c. mid-1880’s house dictates the Victorian garden because of its age and historical significance. According to Jerry Burns, the Carter House could be the oldest home within Blowing Rock. The charming cottage garden blooms with Victorian era plants around the house, guest cottage and children’s playhouse. The Victorian playhouse was built in 1999 for the Horner’s three year old granddaughter. The guest cottage welcomes guests with an herb garden, trellis roses, fuschia and begonias. Circling the back of the property, you will find ferns, wild gingers, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, astilbe and 17 varieties of hosta. Beneath the raised sunny deck is Morgan’s white garden, a perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee or afternoon tea. As you walk across the porte co-chere, gaze at the giant white pines in the front yard, one of the largest in the area. The Horner’s healthy hemlocks are the successful result of many years of treatment and spraying to protect the trees from the wooly adelgid. Morgan and Jack Horner’s goal is to preserve and restore the heritage of this historic house and garden.
- Creekside – Creekside is the name of the home and gardens of Susan DeVore. The home was built circa 1928. Ms. DeVore bought it a few years ago and renovated it with family and grandchildren in mind. You enter through the wrought iron gates, which the former owner had found in the back of the property and had them rehung. Rhododendrons line the left side of the driveway. Adjacent to this, a stone wall was found and reclaimed by the gardener, Ricky Hudson. In front of the house is a large, sweeping lawn. Inside the gate, on the right side of the driveway as you face the house, is a stone wall that is planted with dwarf rhododendrons, angelonia and peonies. Continuing along the wall there is a periwinkle bored backed with burning bushes. Other plantings include Shasta daisies, rudebecia, sunflowers, echonasia, rise bushes, tall tiger lillies, lavender salvia, coreopsis and begonias. Winding toward the house on the right is a stream. Continuing to the back of the house there is a variety of hostas. On the right is the Grandchildrens Secret Path and Japanese maple and an old “garden seat” with a planter onitop. Rhodos as the backdrop to the bird bath that was moved from the front of the house and became a planter encircled by boxwood and begonias. Moving along the side of the house to the front of the house you see yellopw coleus, dahlias and dicanthus. The three window boxes are planted with geraniums, lantana and vinca vine . The side yard has several hummingbird feeders and a weeping cherry tree. Walking to the backyard, you will see coleus, hyndrangeas and rhododendrons.
- The Airlee Cottage – The Airlee Cottage is the home and gardens of Lucy and John Aldridge. The construction of the house was started in 1918 and finished in 1919. It was build by the Payne family. The Aldridge’s purchased the Cottage in 2001 and lovingly restored and added on to it. They named it Airlee Cottage after a family name of John’s who owned Airlee Plantation in eastern North Carolina. On entering this sweet garden, notice the hand rail of wrought iron. At the top of the steps, on the left is the “story bench” where Aldridge’s grandchildren’s names are affixed. Just a few steps beyond is the herb garden. Take note of the three large oak trees. Some of the plantings you will see throughout the garden are: Giant Hostas, Ladies Mantle, Iris, Scabiosa Daisy, Galax, Begonia, Lenten Rose, Foxglove, Toad Lily, Cranesbill Geranium, Leucothoe, (Dog Hobble), Coral Bells, Canada Spruce, Yellow Yarrow, Creeping Jenny, Japanese Painted Fern, Kousa Dogwood, Lanurim Archangel and Lantana. At the back gate, on Chestnut, are roses and outside the gate are coleus.
- Fog Likely – Fog Likely is the home of Jon and Laura Calbert, named for the DOT signage that marks the last 8 mile climb from Lenoir — fog likely. The Calberts have a passion for new home construction but desired the charm and history of this 1917 Bungalow. Over its 100 year history the cottage has only had four owners. Built originally as a seasonal cottage, the owners have modernized the systems without losing the original architectural details. The Calberts now use the cottage as their guest quarters. IN 2014 the Calberts completed the addition connecting the two houses with a mud room and stairwell. The addition echoes the bungalow in like materials and style and covers an area that once was a lawn tennis court. Before the Calberts purchased the property, 40 massive native Hemlock trees died due to the Woolly Adelgid Blight. An aphid like insect from East Asia feeds on the sap at the base of the needles disrupting nutrient flow. The needles fall off and without needles the tree starves to death. The trees were removed and a new landscape plan was imagined by Terry Baker, of Baker Land Design in Atlanta, Georgia. The outdoor fireplace and pizza oven anchors the driveway LIVING ROOM. The potting shed, designed by Laura, borders the KITCHEN garden and its 8 foot deer fencing. Dozens of loads of soil along with a 9 foot boulder wall created the level backyard and flagstone patio MORNING ROOM. The native stone BBQ pit is original to the property and is used on chilly days.
The Blowing Rock Garden Club extends a sincere thank you to those homes and churches who provided their gardens for the tour. Each and every single one of them was beautiful, stunning and made this year’s Mile of Flowers one of the most memorable yet.
Photos by Lonnie Webster