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Archive for the ‘Asheville Area Attractions’ Category

What a Glorious May at A Bed of Roses- Where to See Spring Flowers in Asheville

May 25th, 2014 by abedofroses

Our Gardens this May

Our Gardens this May

May was a glorious month in Western North Carolina. It’s hard to believe Memorial Day is already here and in Asheville the spring bulbs are giving way to roses in abundance. The gardens at the Biltmore Estate have a fabulous display that you shouldn’t miss.  The Biltmore International Rose Trials competition was just held on May 24th. Twelve categories of roses were judged this year coming from breeders in Canada, France Ireland, Germany, and the UK as well as from the US. The roses were planted in the historic gardens two years ago and cared for by their expert horticulturalists in anticipation of this day. Our own rose garden displays an example of an heirloom variety rose bush from the Biltmore greenhouses, a memento from a lovely past guest.

A Bed of Roses Front Porch overlooks the Rose Gardens

A Bed of Roses Front Porch overlooks the Rose Gardens

All of Asheville is filled with beautiful gardens this time of year. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens and fascinating displays at the North Carolina Arboretum while you’re in Asheville this Spring and Summer. They are located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest just southwest of downtown Asheville and a stone’s throw from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They hosted the Asheville-Blue Ridge Rose Society Exhibition May 24th and 25th.  They also have a wonderful Bonzai collection and woodland trails.

Trillium at the Asheville Botanical Gardens

Trillium at the Asheville Botanical Gardens

And for native plant gardens The Botanical Gardens at Asheville located adjacent to the UNC Asheville campus offers beautiful wooded trails dotted with native flowers and plants, with informative labels. They are run by an independent non-profit organization and include a wide collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. These Gardens are walking distance from A Bed of Roses along a soon to be completed Greenway, The Reed Creek Greenway.

You can also enjoy abundant flowers in right in our own neighborhood. The historic Montford District is a wonderful place to stroll and take in the carefully tended gardens. See our photo gallery to see how truly glorious May has been in our own gardens at A Bed of Roses. You can even see our newly planted kitchen garden where we hope to harvest lots of fresh herbs and luscious vegetables for our  gourmet breakfasts this Spring and Summer.

DOUGH in Asheville makes even baking Croissants a Success for the Home Cook!

April 15th, 2014 by abedofroses

Croissants ready to rest in the "Proof Box"

Croissants ready to rest in the “Proof Box”

I love to cook and I get plenty of practice making breakfast for our guests at A Bed of Roses, but the idea of baking croissants from scratch was pretty intimidating even for me! Pastry Chef Ali Caulfield at DOUGH in Asheville got me, along with a class of 10 or so other home bakers, over our fears this past week in a fun 2 day evening class. DOUGH is an innovative chef-owned market and bakery in North Asheville that also offers an ever-changing freshly made menu of sandwiches, salads and pizzas to eat there in the market or to take out. But the wonderful cooking classes and special events that they offer makes DOUGH totally unique, even for Asheville. Most classes are one-day courses, 2-3 hours each and include everything from cooking Thai or Moroccan food to making handmade pasta or mastering the art of the French Macaroon. They have some Parent-Child Pizza Workshops, too that look like a lot of fun. Even in our class we had a family. The parents and their two daughters have taken several classes at DOUGH and the girls did a wonderful job!

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

Chef Ali Caulfield demonstrates for the class

Lawyers, students, real estate agents, retired professionals and one nervous innkeeper all dug in to learn the art of baking croissants hands-on and the flour literally flew! I brought my camera the first night (go to our gallery to see the photos) and it was covered in white dust by the end of the class! Chef Ali took us through the steps one by one, demonstrating along the way with an angled mirror above her workspace that allowed all of us to see exactly what she was doing.

An angled mirror allowed everyone to see what the chef was demonstrating

An angled mirror allowed everyone to see what the chef was demonstrating

It’s the perfect way to learn! You get to see it in digestible chunks, then do it while the visual is still fresh in your memory. The chef is available to check it and make suggestions right away before you move to the next step. Having the right equipment is as important as proper technique. Once the dough has been mixed you need to pound the cold butter into a thin, 5-inch square with a French Roller*. You can just imagine what it looked like to see a room full of people hauling off and hitting big chunks of butter with wooden bats. It was quite a sight! Then the dough is wrapped around the butter into a packet, that is then folded, rolled out and folded again, four times in all, to get all those luscious layers of dough and butter.

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

The bright and airy cooking lab made for a relaxed atmosphere

The process involved letting the dough “rest” at various intervals in a “proof box”** and at the end of the first class our dough packets spent the night in the refrigerator before we continued the next day. But even the first night we got to learn and eat what you can do with left-over croissant dough. The cronut! Now there’s a sinful treat. By the end of the second class we each had a batch of beautiful golden croissants to take home with us along with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, not to mention some new friends.

* A French Roller has no handles and is tapered at the ends.

** A “proof box” is a warm, humid place for your dough to rest. You can use your oven, set at 100° with a bowl of water at the bottom.

You don’t have to live here to enroll in classes at DOUGH. Check out their calendar and get a real taste of Asheville while you’re here visiting! And don’t forget to check out my finished croissants in our photo gallery. They were to die for, if I must say so myself! Yum.

 

The Paris of the South; A Taste of Asheville’s Cultural Events

November 15th, 2013 by abedofroses

The River Arts District

The River Arts District

Asheville has been called the Paris of the South and with good reason. The sidewalk cafés, the abundant art and music as well as theater and cultural events throughout the year make it a very special gem nestled in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. The Asheville Cinema Festival   just recently successfully demonstrated this, showing 40 full length and short films at various downtown venues.

Asheville celebrates cinema

Asheville celebrates cinema

Filmmakers from around the world answered questions after the screenings and industry professionals held discussion sessions. Opening and closing parties gave film buffs a chance to mingle with filmmakers.

More art was on display at the semiannual River Arts District Artists Studio Stroll. Two weekends a year over 180 artists open their studios to the public. The district is located along the French Broad River 5 minutes from downtown in historic industrial buildings. This internationally known event features demonstrations in a wide range of media as well as live painting performance art and hands-on activities. Throughout the year 2nd Saturdays offer more opportunities to view artists at work in the River Arts District.

Great concerts are always going on in Asheville from Nine Inch Nails and Wide Spread Panic earlier this month to Amy Grant at UNC Asheville. The Mountain Oasis Festival that took place at the end of October is a new electronic music festival in Asheville that everyone is very excited about. It was a great success and is sure to return to Asheville.

Bob Moog, inventor and innovator

Bob Moog, inventor and innovator

Asheville has always been known for electronic music thanks to Bob Moog, the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer. Moogfest, the annual music festival to honor Moog has been moved this year from October to April and promises to be much more than just electronic music. The daytime sessions have just been announced and tickets are on sale now for 5 days of Technology, Art and Music. There will be a wide array of workshops and speakers, a tech expo and job fair, media artists, engineers, designers, architects, philosophers, futurists and innovators of all kinds, not just musicians contributing. What will the future be like? Come to Asheville to find out!

A Taste of Asheville Culinary Event

A Taste of Asheville Culinary Event

And then, what would Paris be without food? Asheville’s reputation for outstanding restaurants is growing exponentially  and an event coming up November 20th is showcasing the best of Asheville’s Independent Restaurants. A Taste of Asheville celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association and showcases 40 of the city’s most talented and celebrated chefs. Find out why Asheville has the distinction of becoming one of the Southeast’s top culinary destinations.

 

 

The Best Waterfalls at DuPont State Forest

September 9th, 2013 by abedofroses

High Falls at DuPont State Forest

High Falls at DuPont State Forest

Right now is the perfect time to tour the waterfalls of Western North Carolina. This summer’s wet weather has cleared so we’re having sunny warm days and cool nights, yet the water levels are still high enough to give us a great show cascading over the rocks. And everything is lush and green! Labor Day is over so the crowds have thinned as well. DuPont State Forest, usually very popular, was not very busy at all the other day and offers the most spectacular waterfalls just a short hike from the parking areas. Scenes from The Hunger Games were filmed here and several of the waterfalls were featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans. You’ll see what attracts film-makers to this beautiful place!

New Pedestrian Bridge over the Little River

New Pedestrian Bridge over the Little River

The park has made several improvements this year. The High Falls Access Area is now home to the new Aleen Steinberg Visitors Center and new restroom facilities. A pretty new Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Little River now leads from the expanded Hooker Falls Parking area to the Hooker Falls and Triple Falls trails.

Main access is at the High Falls Access Area but if you park at the Hooker Falls lot you can take an easy hike that includes three waterfalls, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls. Hooker Falls is only 15 feet high but pretty and is a short walk from the parking area.

Triple Falls

Triple Falls

Returning to the pedestrian bridge you can then hike about a half mile to Triple Falls for much more spectacular views. There are some great vantage points from the trail and from the picnic area above but you can also walk down the steps to the base of the middle falls. I think I counted 111 steps but it’s well worth it and the folks at Western Piedmont Community College, who build the steps along with DuPont Staff, mercifully built in benches along the way to rest on your way back up!

The full view of High Falls

The full view of High Falls

The trail continues to High Falls which is 150 feet high and almost as wide. This section of the trail is fairly level and it surprised me to see how calm the Little River is between these two large waterfalls. By the time you can hear the falls you’re almost there. There are good views from the trail and beyond the overlook is a set of stairs and an uphill path to another picnic shelter with views.

If you have more energy than we did that day, or if you access High Falls from the High Falls Access area and it’s new trail connector you can continue to the covered bridge above High Falls with a view of the water spilling over the falls. At the other side of the bridge is the way to Grassy Creek Falls via Buck Forest Road and the Lake Imaging trail. Lake Denise is beyond that with crystal clear waters and swimming allowed.

Bridal Veil Falls from the back on ncwaterfalls.com

Bridal Veil Falls from the back on ncwaterfalls.com

We didn’t make it to Bridal Veil Falls but it’s one of the few waterfalls that you can walk underneath and view from behind the water! The Last of the Mohicans showed the falls from this perspective. Bridal Veil Falls is the first of the waterfalls on the Little River.

The DuPont State Forest is a short drive from Asheville occupying over 10,000 gorgeous acres between Brevard and Hendersonville. For more information go to their website http://www.dupontforest.com. Don’t miss information on the Tour De Falls coming up October 12th and 13th.

For more photos of Waterfalls in the Asheville area go to our Photo Gallery!

 

 

A Section of Blue Ridge Parkway North of Asheville Closed Due to a Large Crack. Parkway South from Asheville to Cherokee Still Open.

July 19th, 2013 by abedofroses

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway North of Asheville

On July 12th a Park Ranger made a stunning discovery. A large crack, 150 feet long, 4 inches wide and in some places 6 feet deep had developed right down the center line of the The Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Asheville. Since that time the crack has grown to 200 feet long and 8 inches wide forcing the closure of a 20 mile stretch of the scenic highway to cars. Apparently the ground below the crack has been saturated with the heavy rains that have left our area lush and green this summer. Cars traveling from Asheville to Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain peak in the eastern US, are being detoured to I40 and US221 through Spruce Pine. Cyclists and hikers can still access the road, at least until repairs begin. July and October are the busiest months of the year for visitors to the Asheville area and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest

Luckily there is still access to all areas of the Parkway from Asheville south to Cherokee which includes The Folk Art Center and the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center. This section of the Parkway offers beautiful views, plenty of hiking trails, Mount Pisgah and the Pisgah National Forest, Graveyard Fields, Devil’s Courthouse and the Cradle of Forestry Overlook. Asheville is ideally located to provide easy access to outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, from the waterfalls of Dupont State Forest to rafting along the French Broad River or a visit to the North Carolina Arboretum with beautiful gardens as well as wooded trails. Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are close as well.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock Park

There is still plenty to see and do in the area. Asheville itself has beautiful views and hosts events all summer long. The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, with over 300 exhibitors is here this weekend and Bele Cher, the largest free music and arts street festival in the Southeast is here next weekend. Folkmoot USA, a two week celebration of world cultures with international folk music and dance is going on right now. Just a few of the other festivals this summer include the Mountain Dance & Folk Festival August 1-3,  The Village Art & Craft Fair on the Grounds of the All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village on Aug. 3-4 and the LAAFF music and arts street fair on Labor Day weekend. A great place to get information on summer festivals as well as the many outdoor activities in the Asheville area is www.romanticasheville.com.

Innkeepers Choice: A Day at Shoji Retreat

August 17th, 2012 by abedofroses

Hot tub

Outdoor hot tubs is a peaceful wooded setting

I’m a firm believer in treating yourself well and Shoji Retreat is definitely the place to do it! Just 8 minutes from downtown Asheville, it’s a world away. They advertise that they’re “2,500 ft above stress level” and it couldn’t be more true. It’s a quick drive from Asheville to the entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just past the Parkway you take a right and wind your way up the wooded road where it gets more and more remote as you climb. The setting is quiet and incredibly peaceful. You can feel yourself relaxing instantly. On our visit Rachel at the front desk was friendly and explained how the spa works, giving us our Japanese Yukatas(robes) and sandals and directing us to the slate showers to begin our day of indulgence. The Summer Celebration Package started with an hour of relaxing in our private hot tub, enclosed with cedar walls on three sides and one side open to the wooded views of the bordering national forest. Above is the open sky and treetops. The only sounds were birdsong and gentle breezes. We alternated between the hot tub and the cold plunge in a separate enclosure. Then after a final invigorating cold plunge it was off to the cedar sauna to wait for our massage therapists to call for us. After a brief introduction and questions about any problems we might be having they brought us to an upstairs room, dimly lit with relaxing music and two massage tables.

Massage setting

Aromatherapy candles

The massage was a wonderful 50 minute Japanese style aromatherapy massage expertly focused on trouble spots and places that tension was stored in the body. As part of the special package we had a choice of a 30 minute cool stone facial massage or a 30 minute foot reflexology massage with a peppermint foot scrub. Two innkeepers on their feet for long hours every day quickly went for the foot massage! After it was all done and the massage therapists left all I could say to my husband was “I think that is the most self-indulgent thing I’ve ever done! We should definitely do this again!” We showered again and checked out in a totally blissed-out state. I couldn’t help sympathizing with Rachel at the front desk having to help people find their keys, tie their shoelaces and get their heads together enough to drive home!

Visit Shoji’s website to see a full menu of their spa services. For a limited time guests staying 2 nights at A Bed of Roses can get $25 each off  of services at Shoji. Ask for your coupon at check-in.

 

Where to See the Best in Mountain Arts and Crafts – Asheville’s Premier Crafts Show

July 19th, 2012 by abedofroses

Jen Swearington Fiber Art

A Detail from Jen Swearington’s “The Sea Dream”

The Crafts Fair of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild is a wonderful showcase for the best artists in the Appalachians. This weekend will draw over 200 artists and craftspeople to the US Celluar Center right here in Asheville to display their art, give demonstrations and listen to and play live music from Western North Carolina. Twice a year the Southern Highlands Craft Guild sponsors this show and it’s a must see event for anyone who loves traditional and contemporary crafts. Long before we moved to the Asheville area I would schedule my trips here to visit family around these fantastic shows. The Southern Highland Craft Guild has a long and distinguished history and the fairs have been a local tradition since 1948. Acceptance into the Guild is based on a rigorous jury process, so these artists are definitely the cream of the crop.

Wendy Searward Mask

Wendy Seaward’s “Delirium”

You will see an incredible mix of traditional works with contemporary interpretations of life and nature in the southern mountains. Crafts like hand hammered ironwork and intricate baskets are displayed side by side with whimsical brightly colored polymer clay creations or quilted and stitched mixed media illustrations that tell stories of the imagination. The guild was chartered in 1930, springing from the dream of Frances Goodrich, a Yale graduate and missionary who moved to Buncombe County in 1890. She joined with other leaders of the Southern Arts and Crafts movement in the 1920s and the birth of the guild can be traced to a meeting of these leaders at the Penland School in 1928. It is now one of the strongest craft organizations in the country, operating the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just a few miles from Asheville, and conducting educational outreach as well as hosting two major shows a year. They still have close ties to the Penland School of Crafts and the John C Campbell Folk School. If you can’t go to the show, be sure to visit their gallery and shop at the Folk Art Center on your next visit to Asheville!

A Relaxing Day Trip to Black Mountain- The Front Porch of Western North Carolina

March 5th, 2012 by abedofroses

Black Mountain General Store

Downtown Black Mountain nestled in the mountains

Just 15 miles from Asheville is the quaint town of Black Mountain, nestled in the mountains and overflowing with charm. That small town feeling makes for a relaxing day trip of hiking, shopping or enjoying a leisurely lunch at one of their restaurants or cafés. We did just that the other day and took in the beautiful mountain views on the quick drive into town. With a history steeped in the arts, Black Mountain has lots of art & craft galleries to browse through as well as artists studios and unique gift stores. From the 1930s until the 1950s Black Mountain College brought the focus of American culture and arts to the mountains of North Carolina with a dazzling array of artists and thinkers associated with the college. John Cage and Buckminster Fuller taught there and Albert Einstein served on the board of directors to mention just a few. Fuller’s Geodesic Dome was created there.

Mountain Dulcimer Players

Instruction on the Mountain Dulcimer at Song of the Wood

Black Mountain is still a hub of creativity in a peaceful, slow paced way. I could have stayed all afternoon in the dulcimer showroom and workshop where Terry Read Smith crafts beautiful instruments. I particularly loved his richly toned and intricately carved hammered dulcimers. His sister was demonstrating and instructing a customer on a mountain dulcimer at the time and I couldn’t leave without buying one of Terry’s own CDs. Their shop is aptly called Song of the Wood.

Antique stores and gift shops drew us in as well, and we couldn’t miss the old fashioned general store. It was almost warm enough to eat on the lovely patio at the Black Mountain Bistro. Instead we lingered over lunch within a glassed-in area of the restaurant that gave us the views and feel of the patio.

Black Mountain's Lake Tomahawk

The Fountain at Lake Tomahawk

After lunch we explored the neighborhoods, admiring some of the older homes, (our weakness!). We’ve always been hooked on Victorian and Arts & Crafts architecture. We took a lovely stroll around Lake Tomahawk before heading home. All in all, a relaxing getaway for a few hours.

If you go, don’t forget the Black Mountain Music Scene as well. In addition to outdoor festivals such as the Lake Eden Arts Festival, Groovin on Grovemont, Park Rythyms at Lake Tomahawk, the local clubs offer a wide range of live music drawing fans from around the area.

You can find more photos of Black Mountain in our photo gallery.

 

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