Asheville’s secret gardens

YOU OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES: Creativity abounds in this garden, which features a dye garden for the artist-owner along with a three-story tree house. It's ready for its close-up: It'll be featured in the August issue of Southern Living. Photo by Judy Deutsch

This weekend, trespassing is allowed: The Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers offer up a chance to visit six private gardens via their biennial tour, the Hidden Gardens of Asheville. And the selection of secret gardens couldn’t be more varied, organizers share — all offering much more to see than just pretty perennials.

COMMUNE WITH NATURE: An invitation for peaceful contemplation, Kosma boasts three special seating areas for meditation against a backdrop of native hollies, giant poplars, and bird and butterfly gardens. Photo by Judy Deutsch
COMMUNE WITH NATURE: An invitation for peaceful contemplation, Kosma Meditation Garden boasts three special seating areas for meditation against a backdrop of native hollies, giant poplars, and bird and butterfly gardens. Photo by Judy Deutsch

“Every garden is very different and has its own very distinct character,” says Judy Deutsch, a master gardener and tour facilitator. “Each is unique to the person that created it.” For example, the Cole Cottage Vignette Garden isn’t one space, rather 12 garden “rooms” tucked away beneath trees and along winding paths. The Harter Tree Garden is, in essence, an arboretum, showcasing more than 30 varieties of Asian maples. Off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Kosma Mediation Garden is all about low maintenance and seating areas for reflection. And the Ramsey Whimsy Garden abounds with artistic elements and handcrafted structures, including a three-story tree house. Two gardens have honeybee apiaries (June is Asheville’s Pollination Celebration; learn more at

As a master gardeners’ event, the tour is meant to be educational as well as pleasing to the senses. “There’s always something that we hope people can learn from the garden,” Deutsch says, citing the Coffey Specimen Garden and Breck Terraced Garden in particular as both have had to contend with steep slopes and water runoff issues.

Leading up to the tour, a team of volunteers spends time with the gardeners in their landscapes, learning those lessons for themselves. Come tour day, visitors can chat with the garden owners and master gardener docents, plucking up wisdom to transplant back home in their own outdoor space.

Proceeds benefit the master gardeners, with emphasis on their School Garden Grants program. Since the first garden tour in 2007, the master gardeners have given away more than $40,000 to over 50 Buncombe County schools, reaching over 16,000 children.



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Maggie Cramer
Writer, Editor, Communications Specialist

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.