When organizers started the West Asheville Garden Stroll in 2009, they sought to feature gardens that would inspire, not intimidate. They wanted to highlight “gardens that the average person would say, ‘Hey, I can do something like that,’ that represented the funky, artistic, not-so-formal West Asheville style,” says WAGS’ principal cultivator, Scott Miller.
The ninth annual stroll, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9, promises to continue in that same vein. The selection of 15 gardens shows off innovative approaches to infrastructure, such as terracing walls, raised beds and walkways, chicken coops and edible landscaping.
One garden even features a small chapel, while the Hall Fletcher Elementary School garden (the only one revealed before the big day) offers a meditative path to help students relieve stress.
These garden assets sparked the 2017 theme, “sanctuary” — a nod both to the current political climate of cities across the globe declaring themselves sanctuaries for refugees and to the power of gardens to soothe the soul.
“All gardens are sanctuaries for the people who work and play in them,” says Miller. “Whether it’s a hammock under a tree or a space to watch birds and butterflies, a garden can provide a place to get away from the craziness of our days.”
The event kicks off at Hall Fletcher at 10:30 a.m. with a special talk by Sunil Patel of Patchwork Urban Farms — a local community agriculture project working toward a resilient food and farming economy — and a performance by the stilt-walking troupe The Faerie Kin.
A guide with a map and descriptions of the featured gardens will be available at the school from 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.; the stroll runs until 4 p.m. Information will also be available on WAGS’ seed money grants for community-oriented gardening projects. The deadline for its next grant cycle is Jan. 31.