Imagine yourself as a guest in George and Edith Vanderbilt's home in 1895. After a decadent meal in the dining room, you step into the The Biltmore's winter garden to experience tropical foliage, stunning orchids and fine-leafed ferns. Many of these same species are on display in the home's recently renovated winter garden, a new attraction for modern Biltmore guests.
Biltmore’s floral display manager Cathy Barnhardt invites the public to experience "these unusual and colorful blooms in the same way the Vanderbilts enjoyed them." The orchids’ rich jewel tones will be on display in glass domed cloches and reproduction Wardian Cases inside the house. Special gardening classes and activities will accompany the exhibit until the winter garden closes to the public on April 7. Regular Biltmore prices apply. Info: http://www.biltmore.com.
Ready, set, permaculture
If your property or farm is a bit of a hodgepodge --- a garden here, a barn there, a pond off in the distance --- permaculture can bring it all together in one master plan. This philosophy uses natural ecosystems and ecological design to encourage a core set of ethics: taking care of the earth, taking care of people and sharing the surplus.
Permaculture in Action will explore these core principles with the Roots and Seeds Full Growing Season Course, a 14-day class held on various weekends throughout the growing season. From May through October, students will learn about permaculture and complete hands-on projects including rain water catchment systems, duck and chicken runs, mushroom cultivation, community-scale permaculture, earthen building, passive solar design, bio-gas digestion and much more. Permaculture experts Zev Friedman and Zev Friedman and Dylan Ryals-Hamilton, founders of Permaculture in Action, will lead the classes. All ages welcome. Registration required by Monday, April 1. $425. Info and location: http://permacultureinaction.com or 230-3845.
Setting up a homestead can seem like a daunting task. Some people think it's best to start with a garden, build a coop for a few chickens, or dive right into dairy goats. Starting small is a good approach and joining together with fellow homestead-enthusiasts is a great way to get going and expand existing skills.
The French Broad Coop, 90 Biltmore Ave., will host an urban homesteading fair on Saturday, March 30 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. More than 30 vendors will share their knowledge of bees, poultry, mushrooms, bread ovens, hops and even mead-making. Classes will be offered on medicinal plants, woodland botanicals and fermentation. There will also be entertainment from The Urban Arts Institute and The Morris Dancers, along with food and local beer. Music by the Pond Brothers and Woody Wood, Miss Mousie, the Jay Brown Trio and others will continue until 8 p.m. The fair is free; sliding scale classes range from $10-$25. Info: http://www.frenchbroadfood.coop.