One of the first things James and I did after we bought the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina, was to plant a kitchen garden. I believe that one of the greatest pleasures in life is the smell of freshly cut herbs. Walking across dew-wet grass in the morning sunshine while birds sing around you may sound like something out of a Disney film but it is a real possibility once you create your own garden. And having the herbs there and readily available opens up so many options and choices for flavors in cooking.
We use our herbs every day in the summer and miss them all winter long. Blackberries soaked in a sweet basil syrup, mint with pineapple, tarragon in an asparagus quiche, chopped dill with smoked salmon and of course a simple Caprese salad made with homegrown tomatoes and basil are just a few of the dishes we offer here at the Carolina.
So of course the first thing to go when we started construction of our living quarters was our lovingly planted kitchen garden. Jay and the rest of the gang from Pinnacle Landscape dug up the best of the plants and moved them over into some out-of- the-way beds in the hopes that we could transplant them into a new garden. By and large most of the plants did make it. One great victory was our beautiful miniature Japanese Maple which we moved over near the goldfish pond where it is flourishing. Sadly on the other hand, our grape vine is no more than a dead stick in the ground today but I have plans to maybe plant a new one. It will take years to grow into one like the one we lost so we should start soon. But honestly, our grounds needed a re-do as much as the house and for what we lost we have gained a lot.
So let me take you on a tour of the newly landscaped Carolina Bed & Breakfast gardens.
The previously mentioned grape arbor was sacrificed in order to create a bedroom for our daughters to use when they come and visit. Guests will still use this entry to come and go from the house. The fir tree in front of house is called a “Fat Albert”–at least that is what our landscaper calls it. This is one of Jay’s (the landscaper) favorites and he especially wanted the small yellow flowers surrounding the tree, as the color combination is one of his favorites. This picture doesn’t do it justice; the colors are quite nice together.
Guest will walk up this path from the car park below. There is a row of rhododendron which has been planted to shield our small private terrace from by-passers. This is where our original kitchen garden used to be. A number of small flowering bushes will form a low hedge next to the drive.
Here is one of the more dramatic changes in the grounds. The back of the garage was once a gardener’s shed but the roof beams had rotted and it wasn’t safe to use so we had it removed and built a small terrace in its stead. This has the effect of opening up the cottage to the garden and goldfish pond. The Japanese Maple which had been at the top of the path has been moved to the left of the patio, near the pond. This has already become a favorite spot for guests seeking privacy and quiet.
I know this looks like hair plugs on the scalp of a balding man but eventually it will be an English-style wildflower meadow along the left of the path from the parking area. We bought over a thousand perennials and the gardeners stood with their backs to the plot, tossed the plants over their shoulders and planted them where they landed in order to get a random placement. We’ve been really lucky and had an alternately wet then sunny spring so they have already grown markedly from when this picture was taken. The leftover flowers have been planted all around the rest of the property.
James used the extra stones to redo the goldfish pond. Earlier this year a large heron stopped by and ate all of our fish so this time James has built a number of small caves for the fish in which to hide in case of attack! The birds love this pond and are always bathing and preening themselves on the rocks beside it.
And finally, here is the new Kitchen Garden! We placed it across the drive from the back porch. A series of small beds form a semi-formal circle, framed by box hedges and rhododendron plants in the back.
The small stone planter which used to be in the rose garden (also moved to another area) is the center piece of the circle. I have filled it with pansies which will provide color throughout the year.
We have planted two kinds of mint, lemon balm, zinnias, tarragon, thyme, oregano, majorum, sage, chamomile, comfrey, lavender, parsley, basil, coriander and dill for our herbs
And in the back we have a small vegetable plot. April was so warm that I took a chance and started my tomatoes around the 15th of the month–a good two to three weeks early. There are already tomatoes on the plants! I had thought I would be able to get an early harvest of sweet peas in front of the tomatoes before they grew too high but the peas are well overshadowed so I’m not sure if that will work. In the plot beside it we have the ubiquitous zucchini plants and, at James’ request, I am trying some horseradish.
We are almost finished, both with the landscaping and our building project (although it seems like we have been stuck at “two weeks out” for about a month). The only big change left to complete is the addition of some garage doors to the existing structure. This necessitates the approval of the Historic Resources Commission and will undoubtedly involve permits, so it could be another year before we get started…