Clear Horizon at Montford Cove

After four inches of rain on Sunday and Monday, a passing front cleared the air and lowered the humidity to winter levels. The clarity of the mountain views was remarkable for late April. Montford Cove is a farming community a mile north of my home. This is one of my favorite vantage points anywhere along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. This image was made looking to the southeast, with Tryon Mountain in the far distance along the North and South Carolina border. Charlotte would be just over the mountain on the left.

Montford Cove toward Tryon Mountain

Looking toward the southwest toward Lake Lure…montford cove toward Lake Lure

That’s Tryon and Bill’s Mountains on the horizon with Oak Mountain to the right. New Spring leaves give the canopy a rich glow of every shade of green. Visibility was unlimited.montford cove toward Tryon and Oak Mountains

This was a similar view just three weeks ago…montford cove view of Tryon Mountain

Asheville’s Sunset Mountain


Above the iconic Grove Park Inn, a labyrinth of narrow drives and precipitous switchbacks hides a collection of mansions that would rival anything found in California or the Italian Riviera. Clinging to hillsides so steep that many are invisible as you traverse the storybook lanes, these dowagers also are surrounded by gardens of evergreens and blooming shrubs that have been nurtured for decades to appear as though Mother Nature did all the work.  Mid-April is traditionally the peak of Azalea and Dogwood season in the Mountains, and there’s no better place to observe this annual show than along these winding roads on Sunset Mountain.  Here are images made on April 18th, showing just a fraction of the overall beauty just waiting to be appreciated by the curious visitor.

Sunset Mountain Asheville Azaleas

Sunset Mountain Asheville Wysteria

Dogwood and Wisteria

sunset mountain asheville castle

sunset mountain asheville azaleas 5

Sunset Mountain Asheville Iris 1

Sunset Mountain Asheville Iris 2

Sunset Mountain Asheville azalea garden

A Garden walkway with Japanese Maple

sunset mountain asheville azaleas vista

sunset mountain asheville dogwood

This 50 second video gives a more three dimensional view…

April means Azaleas at the Biltmore Estate

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Cruising through the Biltmore Estate in April always means Azaleas, and yesterday found them in abundance.

azaleas 2

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

azaleas 5

As you enter the Estate, you are greeted with blooming Canola fields as far as the eye can see. The effect is almost too intense for the senses, and the delicate scent rising from the flowers fills the air with a sweet aroma.Biltmore Canola Fields

I couldn’t resist going into the amazing sea of yellow. I’ve never seen anything like it.Biltmore Estate Canola Fields

Traveling home from Asheville, I used a remote stretch of Old Highway 70 near Old Fort, and the road overlooked this farm, with the railroad in the distance. The combination of Dogwood and Azalea was breathtaking.Old Fort Southern Railway farm

Old Fort wildflowers and Dogwood

Old Fort Dogwood and Azaleas


Sycamore Sawmill in Operation

My previous post documented the felling of a 150 year old Sycamore tree near the historic log farmhouse whose reconstruction progress I have followed for over a year. I revisited the farm yesterday when I heard distinct sawing sounds echoing through the valley, and found the old sawmill in operation, actually cutting boards from that old tree. At the controls was the same gentleman who had been rebuilding the house, along with his wife. One of the giant logs was positioned on the mill’s moving carriage, and the two were working in unison, drawing the log back and forth, sawing the log into usable lumber. It was fascinating to watch how methodically they handled the entire operation.

As the bark was first trimmed, and the log was halved, then quartered, then cut into 6″ X 6″ beams, I gained a new respect with what they were doing together. I was still disappointed that they had chosen the largest, oldest, Sycamore in the woods, but  I appreciated the fact that they were using such an amazing machine to make the raw materials that were used in the farmhouse, and would most likely go to market to pay for the construction.

I asked their permission to record the operation, and they seemed excited that I would take an interest into what they were doing. Here is a short 90 second video that shows the sawmill in operation. Be sure to notice the beautiful grain revealed when the log is first trimmed. I will return today to retrieve a large plank that was discarded during the operation. This wood is too valuable to waste, and will make a beautiful accent piece when refinished in an artistic way. It will also be the perfect way to honor that special tree that stood in the valley for so many years.

The Felling of a Civil War Sycamore

A year ago I found five Sycamore trees along Otter Creek adjacent to the 19th century log farmhouse that has been featured in this blog as it was being “reconditioned”. The very old trees were the largest that I have found in all of my wanderings through these expansive woods.  Here is a photo of the largest one without its springtime foliage.


The tree was well over 100 feet high, with a diameter near the ground of 4 1/2 feet, and a circumference of 13 feet. It must have been growing before the Civil War…limb

Last week while walking along the creek , I was shocked to find what remained of that magnificent specimen.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

 I was numb, and tears came to my eyes. From the sawdust evidence and freshness of the clean cut, I realized that the owners of the farm, who also happened to be the same people who had rebuilt the old farmhouse, had chosen the Sycamore specifically for its size and monetary value. I immediately went to the temporary sawmill above the log house to see if the tree was there, and this is what I found.KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

mill 1

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Over the years, the landowners have selectively cut trees on the property as a way of earning money, and more recently, as a way to get lumber for the reconstruction of the historic house. It’s just such a shame that they felt no remorse in choosing the largest and oldest tree to fell. All they saw was the money it could bring them, and to Hell with history. It hurts… It really hurts. Thank goodness for state and national forests.


Montford Cove Valley Views

Just two miles north of my house is a farming area known as Montford Cove. Hay, corn, and Black Angus herds cover the expansive fields, with Cove Creek running through the middle toward its blending with the Broad River as it drains into South Carolina.


The view from the deck of a cabin north of the valley is the best I’ve seen in the entire area…montford 9

To the south is Tryon Mountain along the South Carolina border, with a closer Bill’s Mountain just east of Lake Lure.montford 4New leaves on Maples and Hickories tint the forest below.

montford 3Glaxhorn Mountain to the southeast…

montford 7Oak Mountain, Brushy Top Mountain, Bear Gap, and Roan Horsetop Mountain.


montford 6

montford 1


A Beautiful Early Spring

This post was made exactly five years ago today, So far, none of the flowering trees shown here have blossomed. Our late snowfall on March 11th, and frigid temps the following week stopped Springtime in its tracks this year. Looks like it will be two more weeks before these scenes are replicated. Worth the look all the same.

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

With this early warm weather, Spring has arrived with a flourish. There’s an empty house a few miles south where the Kwanzan Cherry Trees, Dogwood, Azalea, and Apple, have opened. I took a few cuttings for my house. It was 41 degrees this morning, and “Nothin Could be Finer….”

Click on any of the photos below to start the slideshow. Click on “esc” in upper right to return to this page… Enjoy.

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