Buzzworm news briefs

High times for Loewer

Among Asheville gardening enthusiasts, the names Vance, Patton and Pack are of only passing interest compared to that of The Wild Gardener, Peter Loewer. Known to many locals through his radio and print garden essays (including many years of contributions to Xpress), Loewer enjoys even wider familiarity with an international audience, thanks to his more than 30 books and his expertise as a botanical illustrator.

Those curious about Loewer’s work would do well to visit the North Carolina Arboretum’s Visitor Education Center, which is currently exhibiting “Beyond Images and Botanicals” — a set of his original illustrations that will be on display through Tuesday, Oct. 4. The Arboretum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free, though the usual parking fees apply.

Gardeners of a more literary bent can catch up with the author at Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 17. Loewer will sign copies of his latest book, Native Perennials of the Southeast (Coldsprings Press, 2005) and conduct a gardening Q-and-A session. His comments will cover the critical steps for preparing a WNC garden for fall.

For more information, contact the Arboretum at 665-2492 or Barnes & Noble at 296-9330.

— Cecil Bothwell

Do you UFO?

A summer that’s seen the big-screen reincarnation of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds wouldn’t be complete without some good, old-fashioned UFO sightings. And just in case the extraterrestrials aren’t doing their job, some local paranormal enthusiasts are ready to float some UFOs of their own — and they’re inviting you to help.

This Saturday, Aug. 13, local author/radio host Joshua P. Warren hosts the first-ever “Speaking of Strange UFO Experience.” The event begins at 5 p.m. with a cookout at the Barnardsville Community Center (20 minutes north of Asheville), and culminates with a 10 p.m. launch of homemade “fake UFOs.”

“This event serves two purposes,” Warren explained in a press release. “Seeing creative fake UFOs will help us rule out fakes when analyzing UFO pictures and footage. Secondly, it’s going to be downright fun.”

To participate, bring your own food, beverages and UFO-construction materials — helium balloons and light sticks, for example. Assemble your craft beforehand or onsite, and the “Speaking of Strange” crew will help you loft the would-be UFO and keep it safely in sight with a tether line.

For directions and further information, visit www.speakingofstrange.com.

— Jon Elliston

Rickshaw sighted in Montford

While rickshaws — both the bicycle and the motorized kind — may be a common sight in many parts of Asia, seeing one tooting around the Montford neighborhood might come as a bit of a surprise.

The cherry-red, three-wheel vehicle with a convertible soft top is a Bajaj Auto Rickshaw made in India and then imported to California, where it was outfitted with a catalytic converter to meet that state’s stringent air standards.

“It goes up to 40 miles an hour and gets 80 miles to the gallon,” Sharon Fahrer proudly notes. Fahrer, with business partner Trace Bates, recently purchased the vehicle for their new business, Montford Auto Rickshaw & Historic Tours.

Fahrer, proprietor of the Montford Arts Center and an oral historian who edits the Montford Newsletter, had been giving walking tours of Montford and Riverside Cemetery for about a year when she was approached by Bates, also a Montford resident, about adding a rickshaw to the mix.

Not only would having a motorized vehicle allow Fahrer to combine the Montford and Riverside Cemetery tours (previously two separate tours because of the ground they covered), “but [Bates’] idea was to have fun and get people to have a good time learning about the neighborhood,” she explains.

A deal was struck, and now the two have begun giving historic architectural tours on the rickshaw. In addition, Bates uses it in the evening to shuttle guests from Montford B & Bs to downtown.

The tour of Montford “is really a snapshot into the history of Asheville,” Fahrer explains. “We try to tie in the tour with other things [visitors] might have already seen.”

For example, she notes, “Richard Sharp Smith, who was the supervising architect of the Biltmore Estate, is (a) buried in Riverside Cemetery, and (b) he was also the architect for many of the houses that we pass by on the tour … and (c) he designed the Vance Monument, which I don’t think a lot of people know.”

The cost of a one-hour tour is $45 for two people. This includes an instant rebate of $5 in what Fahrer calls “Montford money” — currency that can be spent at participating businesses on Montford Avenue, including Sweet Heaven, Viva Europa, Captain’s Bookshelf and the Montford Art Center.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 777-1014.

— Lisa Watters

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