In the garden

A quilt with a view: The N.C. Arboretum's quilt garden uses flowers to create a tapestry of color. See it for free on National Public Gardens Day on Friday, May 10.
A quilt with a view: The N.C. Arboretum's quilt garden uses flowers to create a tapestry of color. See it for free on National Public Gardens Day on Friday, May 10.


The garden's big day

Earth Day has come and gone and Mother's Day is just around the corner, but who could forget National Public Gardens Day? (It’s Friday, May 10, of course.) Plant-lovers get to celebrate the beauty of our nation's botanical gardens and arboreta with free admission to public gardens throughout the country.

Just south of Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum will offer free admission to its 434-acres of flowers, trees and shrubs on May 10 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. See the perfectly manicured bonsai garden with its miniature Japanese trees. Enjoy the view from the quilt garden, which uses seasonal flowers to create a pattern that mimics a handmade quilt. Bring your bike for an afternoon on the arboretum's 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. It's easy to spend an afternoon or the entire day wandering the outdoor exhibits and spectacular array of plants. 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way. Free coupon required. http://www.ncarboretum.org or http://avl.mx/t2 for coupon.

Compost 101

Composting is one of the easiest and low-pressure ways to go green — no watering or weeding is involved and success is basically guaranteed. However, if you're new to composting, there are some tips and tricks that will ensure your scraps actually decompose.

Buncombe County Extension Master Gardeners have all the info you need to get a compost pile started. On the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, EMG volunteers will be available to give composting advice at the WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road, beside Jesse Israel & Sons Garden Center. Volunteers will give demonstrations, hand out printed materials and offer composting strategies. Free samples of "black gold" will be available. http://buncombemastergardener.org.

If your yard is too small for a compost bin or physical challenges prevent you from getting out in the garden, Asheville has a new residential compost pickup service. Starting this month, CompostNow will pick up banana peels, apple cores and even meat and dairy products each week. Members can request fully composted soil in return, so you can get the benefits of composting without the hassle. $32 for weekly pickup of two bins. http://compostnow.org.

Visit Japan without leaving WNC

Western North Carolina may be a long way from the Land of the Rising Sun, but our climates are similar enough that bamboo can thrive in both parts of the world. A grove of these perennial evergreens is a delight for the senses. The sound of bamboo leaves swaying in the wind combined with the plant's lush greenery is enough to bring the tranquility of rural Asia closer to home.

Experience the beauty of a verdant grove at Haiku Bamboo Nursery in Hendersonville. The nursery features 23 species of bamboo, ranging from dwarf to timber. The public is invited to tour the groves at bamboo walking tours, offered every second and fourth Sunday from 1:30-3 p.m. Experience the beauty of a true bamboo forest — no plane ticket required. $20. http://www.haikubamboonursery.net.

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