The Dirt

Herbs are sprouting in peat cups on the windowsills. Tulips planted by a home's previous owners are popping up in unexpected places in my yard. Country gardeners, I noted on a Sunday drive, have tilled their plots, and some have already planted early season greens. A West Asheville neighbor was raking out a flowerbed, and a weeping cherry in my front yard cascades with pink-white blooms.

Spring has arrived, all the sweeter after the snowy cold winter that downed trees and gave us all a bad case of cabin fever. I've got my eye on two big late-spring events, and I'm rushing to get some growing space available for the bounty I'll gather at them, from tomato starters to blueberry saplings:

The 21st annual Asheville Herb Festival will be held the weekend of April 30 through May 2 at the Western North Carolina Farmers Market. Here's a word from event organizer Andy Reed:

"The festival has increased the public's knowledge and love of herbs and herbal products for two decades … offering by far the best selection of herb plants in the Southeast."

Visit to learn more, and visit the photo gallery at for images from previous festivals. Stay tuned for an Xpress update later this month.

The Annual Spring Plant Sale & Rafflewill be held Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1. Begun almost 40 years ago as the major fundraiser for the Asheville Botanical Gardens, this event kicks off the WNC gardening season. It will feature native plants propagated by the horticultural staff, as well as plants, shrubs and trees from more than a dozen regional nurseries and local garden clubs. Members of the Gardens will receive discounts on plants at the Gazebo and on items in the Garden Path Gift Shop.

But all are invited to come out and enjoy the spring wildflowers, stock up on favorite plants and help the Gardens — all at the same time.

Plant sales begin on Friday at 1 p.m. and continue on Saturday, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Food and beverages will also be available on Saturday.

Also, there's a raffle for "attractive prizes" (we're guessing, plants and things to do with plants). The drawing will be held on Saturday. (Winners need not be present; they will be notified the following Monday.) Tickets can be purchased in the Gift Shop a few weeks prior to the sale or during the sale. Cost of the tickets is $1 each or six for $5.

Organizers promise the sale will be held rain or shine. Admission is free, and onsite parking is available site or nearby. The Botanical Gardens is located at 151 W.T. Weaver Blvd. (near UNCA). For more information, call 252-5190.

Fifth Season Gardening opens new warehouse

Fifth Season Gardening opened its West Asheville Warehouse on April 1. Located at 21-B Westside Drive, a few blocks from Louisiana Avenue, the Warehouse has been used for farm and wholesale orders since 2009 but is now open to the public for retail from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and by appointment. The warehouse specifically caters to customers looking to place bulk or larger orders for hydroponic supplies, organic-gardening and all-natural fertilizers, growing mixes, soil supplements, seeds, and pest-management and weed-control products.

"We are pleased to be able to make it easier for our Asheville-area customers to purchase bulk supplies or larger hydroponics orders," says Fifth Season Gardening owner Richard Quinn. "The warehouse is less chaotic than our downtown store, and it will be easier to load larger orders and get our customers on their way."

Formerly Asheville Agricultural Systems, Fifth Season has been selling hydroponic and organic-gardening supplies since 2000 at their store on 45 Banks Ave. in downtown Asheville. The new West Asheville store is the sixth Fifth Season location. The growing privately held family business also has stores in Carrboro, Greensboro and Raleigh in North Carolina, as well as Charlottesville,Va.
Call the West Asheville Supply Warehouse at 225-5007 for details.

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

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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