Enjoy the Colorful Photographic Impressions created by Vann Helms
Asheville in the Spring can be quite colorful, especially the Gardens at the Biltmore Estate. A leisurely drive west over the Eastern Continental Divide always makes the hour long journey all the more satisfying. Along the way, the mountains are finally greening up…. Large hay fields just add to the beauty.
The Dogwood are two weeks late this year.
The main entrance gate at Biltmore…
The Tulip beds are spectacular this year.
The Azaleas are late this year. I found a few in bloom.
Lavender Phlox and white Daffodils…
This video highlights the drive over the Divide, and the mountain roads over Asheville. It takes you into Biltmore, and lets you experience the Gardens in all their splendor. If you’re viewing this as part of your email, click on the blue headline to go directly to the blog to see the video.
In the northwest corner of Rutherford County, the Escarpment of the Blue Ridge suddenly rises up to 4,000 feet, from a much lower 900 feet around Lake Lure. The elevation change is dramatic, and the lack of development allows for unlimited vistas and unspoiled forests. Yesterday I toured around these little known mountains to see how a late Spring was putting its touches on them. You can judge for yourself.
The main north-south access is Bill’s Creek Road, which follows the original Cherokee trading path, which, when General Griffith Rutherford brought his troops through here in 1776, was renamed the Rutherford Trace. The eastern side of the road looks out over the Carolina Piedmont Plateau, but to the west and north, a long ridge of mountains runs from the South Carolina line to Linville Gorge, thirty miles to the northeast.
Homesteads and cattle pastures are scattered along the valley. In the far distance, above, you can see the Black Mountains, home to Mt. Mitchell and other peaks above 6,000 feet.
Young’s Mountain, at 2,600 feet, dominates the horizon for two miles.
Rumbling Bald, and Mount Shumont, at 4,000 feet, create an impassable wall between here and Asheville to the west.
The view across the Apple Valley Golf Course is always spectacular, but in Spring, the Kwansan Cherry trees add color under the mountains.
Fire red azalea surround the entrance to a cart tunnel on the golf course, with Kwansan Cherry in the background.
The tunnel opens to the east side of the course.
Late 19th century farmhouses are protected by the traditional White Oak trees. Dogwood always find a special place in these historic gardens.
Azaleas have flourished over many generations along Bill’s Creek Road.
Forests of Loblolly Pine fill the valleys in this entire area. It’s the last place you’ll find them as you move west into higher elevations.
Pastoral meadows and ponds abound under these pine forests.
The Kwansan Cherry groves are the most impressive of all.
Oak Mountain is the last peak at the north end of Bill’s Creek Road. The Redbud are is full bloom this week.
Four years ago, I visited Madison, and was blown away by the Springtime beauty.
After General Sherman burned Atlanta in 1864, he burned almost all of the stately plantations on his march to the sea, but one small town was totally saved. Madison, Georgia, just sixty miles east of Atlanta, was the home of Senator Joshua Hill, who had been a close friend to Sherman’s brother at West Point, and was also a friend of the Union, having been the sole Georgia vote against succession. If that had not been the case, over 100 of the 19th century buildings that stand today would have been destroyed.
Above is the preserved home of Senator Joshua Hill. Circa 1835
In the town, “…too beautiful to burn.”, one of the largest collections of antebellum buildings in the South draws tourists from the world over. Madison is a national treasure of antebellum buildings, and its architecture stands as a testament to the time when cotton was king.
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Masters week is always a memorable time to be in Augusta, but when the Dogwood and Azaleas are at their flowering peak, there’s no other place in America where Spring is more dramatic, and more beautiful. Forest Hills is a neighborhood of brick streets and stately early 20th century mansions that was here long before Bobby Jones ever decided to transform a tree nursery into the most revered 18 holes in golf.
Not only are the homes amazing in their own right, but their gardens were designed to dazzle the eye for a few short weeks in late March and early April. A walking tour is the best way to experience this remarkable creation. If you’ve never been, put this one on your “list”.
One of my favorites…
Here’s my favorite from a few years ago…Park Avenue
After fits and starts, Springtime is here. Yesterday was the first day higher than 60 since February. All of these images were made within two miles of my house. The Redbuds have suddenly appeared, pink, of course, and the Sugar Maples are showing their new red leaflets in the woods.
More Sugar Maples over a pond at Whitehouse, a four corners crossroads just to my north.
This is the largest of three late 19th century “white houses” that surround the crossroads. It’s being renovated. Love the twin chimneys.
Just down Cove Road from Whitehouse is the parsonage for Montford Cove Missionary Baptist Church, at the base of Oak Mountain, which was clear-cut last Fall, and left in an awful state. Luckily, my view of Oak Mountain is from the other, untouched, side. This used to be such a lovely thick hardwood forest.
A little further south down Cove Road is this idyllic view of the Eastern Escarpment of the Blue Ridge.
Above this pasture are the mountains just north of Lake Lure. Hard to believe that snow fell in these mountains just five days ago, and freezing rain coated the trees.
Just down the hill from the house, the Redbuds have bloomed at Otter Pond. That’s Oak Mountain on the horizon
Normally an abundance of rain means an early Spring, but a colder than normal March halted the trees in their tracks, and brought late season snow, and even a coating of ice along Cedar Creek.
With freezing temperatures, you wouldn’t expect the Forsythia to be so bright, but with February being warmer than March, Mother Nature is scratching her head. This farm at the base of Roan Horsetop Mountain in far northwest Rutherford County wonders what season it should be celebrating.
Roan Horsetop above Cedar Creek Road.
An empty summer log cabin awaits the changing season. A split-rail fence recalls bygone days of pioneers and simple solutions.
After weeks of warm and rainy weather, the Blue Ridge Mountains have seen a March snowfall that reawakened the adventure of gliding down a slope with the beauty of Nature all around. To stand atop a peak in the High Country and have the entire world below you covered in white brings an exhilaration unmatched in all my years of experiencing life in Western North Carolina. The fact that $28 can put you in a chair that moves slowly up and through a pristine winter landscape is the best bargain going for anyone who loves the thrill of these remote mountains.
The Noreaster that was moving over New England generated over half a foot of snow as it moved north through the “High Country”, and very cold temperatures that followed gave the man-made snow guns something to celebrate.
To me, the thrilling trip back down to the bottom is just the fastest way of getting back on a floating chair, and the new vistas that await.
A new high speed lift opened two years ago, but I prefer the old, much slower chairs that take their time moving silently through the woods and above streams.
After two years, I was up for the challenge.
Here are a few screen captures from videos I made while skiing…
This video will let you experience the mountain right along with me…..
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