Green Thumb: Tulips galore

Tiptoe through the tulips: CORRECT CAPTION IS IN FILEMAKER photo courtesy of the Biltmore Estate

More than 100,000 tulips will bloom on the Biltmore Estate this spring, but that’s just one aspect of the annual Festival of Flowers, which runs April 2 through May 15.

For instance, there’s live music every day in the Conservatory and Winter Garden. Visitors can visit the “Ask a Gardener” station, featuring the estate’s horticulture experts. Daily seminars will be held in the Conservatory, covering such topics as Culinary Herbs and Edible Flowers, A Pot for Every Plant and Celebrate Spring with Wreaths.

The Festival coincides with the estate’s annual Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday, April 24. The setting is nearly epic: the front lawn of Biltmore House. Hunts will be at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. that day. Registration begins two hours before each hunt, and closes 15 minutes before start times. The hunt also features children’s music and stories, magic shows, games and photos with the festival’s Easter Rabbit.

Other, more adult activities include music at such estate locales as the Barn and the Village Green. And there’s the Grape Stomp at the Winery.

The estate-wide event celebrates George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre property and its original design by Frederick Law Olmsted, father of American landscape architecture. Biltmore’s gardens — Olmsted’s final project — are in their 121st year, and continue to mature and become more beautiful as time passes.

A meadow of white, purple, pink, yellow and red tulips will welcome guests at the estate’s entrance. Tulips in the Walled Garden offer hues of purple, orange, yellow and white. By mid-festival, visitors will see the lavender shades of alyssum, orange snapdragons, poppies, dianthus and digitalis for a rainbow-colored finish in the Walled Garden.

The Vanderbilt’s world travels inspire the festival’s theme this year, referencing their journeys amid floral displays and other decorative elements throughout Biltmore House and the estate. The Conservatory below the Walled Garden will feature travel crates labeled “Biltmore/Vanderbilt” mixed in among the plants and flowers that thrive there. Potted plants arranged in the shape of a compass will surround the center fountain in the Winter Garden in Biltmore House.

For more information, particularly event times, please visit

A (grafted) apple a day

Two of the area’s senior apple grafters, Paul Gallimore and Bob Jorgensen, assisted by Art Horn, present a Sunday, April 3, workshop on how to propagate apples using a variety of grafting techniques.

The 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. session takes place at the Long Branch Environmental Education Center in the Leicester area. The workshop will cover how to select the most appropriate apple varieties, where to get apple trees, how and when to collect grafting wood, where and how to get rootstocks, and how to graft and grow young apple trees. The apples for consideration are heirloom, original or Old Southern apples. These apples carry tremendous historical backgrounds and offer several practical advantages to the grower.

Lee Calhoun, the author of Old Southern Apples, is an old friend and advisor of Long Branch’s orchards, which he claims has one of the better collections of local heirloom fruit.

Participants will have a chance to learn how to graft their own tree and one home. Participants may also purchase additional rootstocks to graft more varieties of trees. Books, supplies, and rootstocks may be purchased if desired. Space is limited, so please pre-register. And bring a bag lunch and a sharp knife — rain or shine, says Gallimore.
For more information, call 683 3662 or email . Also, visit the website,

Smart gardening for WNC

Asheville-Buncombe County Master Gardeners will present a Spring Garden School — Smart Gardening for Western North Carolina — on Saturday, April 9, at AB-Tech's Ferguson Auditorium. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., and classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Topics include The Dirt on Dirt: Taming Red Clay; Myths, Misconceptions and Useful Garden Folk Lore; Tough Plants for WNC; Reducing Garden Maintenance; Effortless Edibles for Your Landscape; and Getting the Most out of Small Spaces. The program will close with Q&A with a panel of Buncombe County Master Gardeners.

The program is cosponsored by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service Foundation, an entity of the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, Inc.

Cost is $12 per person. To register, call Buncombe County Extension Office at 255-5522, or send a check (made out to Buncombe County Master Gardeners Enhancement Fund, or BCMGEF) to N.C. Cooperative Extension, 94 Coxe Ave., Attn: Joyce Plemmons, Asheville, NC 28801.
For additional information, email

Master Gardener volunteers provide education and current research-based urban horticultural information through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension programs and activities; they strive for the improvement and preservation of the quality of the natural environment.

— Send your garden and farm news to or call 251-1333, ext. 152.

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