Did you know that part of the North Carolina Mountains is a temperate rainforest (receiving over 60” of rain each year)? That explains the abundance of amazing gardens and stunning waterfalls in the area and why Sierra Nevada located their Eastern brewery near Hendersonville, where they have access to mountain water.
In Hendersonville and Asheville, NC, and the 25 or so miles between you can visit Biltmore’s amazing gardens and iconic, luxurious Vanderbilt home, wander the stunning North Carolina Arboretum, travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and experience an abundance of breweries, cideries, local art galleries, impressive restaurants, and hiking trails.
But do not miss the enchanting North Carolina Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.
Thank you to VisitHendersonvilleNC.org, for hosting my visit.
NC’s Enchanting Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
Like NYC’s High Line, the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is a popular pedestrian-oriented garden built on an abandoned structure. This 1925 highway bridge was deserted about a decade ago. Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge did – and are still doing – what it takes to turn the bridge into a linear garden, enticing people outdoors to enjoy plantings and creative displays.
Towering above is Chimney Rock, a soaring 315-foot rock formation. The foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains surround this linear garden. Lake Lure creates a lovely view upstream. The Broad River can be seen downstream from the Flower Bridge. The Broad River also meanders beside you on the picturesque winding road as you approach Lake Lure, NC, 20 miles east of Hendersonville.
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is the brainchild of volunteers and infused with their creativity, Southern hospitality, sense of humor, and love of plants. New and trending plant varieties are included in the well-labeled plantings. The plantings are varied and well thought out, lining the walks of the 155-foot-long bridge and gardens at each end.
I was surprised to see a Franklinia tree and pleased that an informative plaque was there to make sure it was appreciated. The bridge and gardens are always open. There is no admission fee and free parking is available on each end of the bridge. The nearby parking, wide walkways, and flat site make it very accessible for scooters and wheelchairs.
A Spring Rite of Passage
Although all had masks on in Spring 2021, everyone was relaxed and enjoyed being outside and together. Smiles were transmitted through eye contact and friendly hellos. Cell phones were practically ignored, except to take photos.
These photos were taken in early April. Stuffed bunnies were everywhere, delighting children. This is a garden well worth revisiting. The plants, views and themes all change seasonally. In a few years this three-span bridge structure turns 100 – and she never looked better.
Nearby Worth Discovering
As a gardener, I lead people to gardens first. Bullington Gardens was started by a man who ran a plant nursery for a decade while collecting cool plant specimens. Then he gave his property to the county. These plant specimens are now decades old and featured in the display gardens. The Native Woodland Garden, maintained by the Western Carolina Botanical Club, is rich with native plants. Bullington Gardens is free to visit.
Only 10 minutes away is Linda’s Plants and Shrubs, with an incredible selection of plants and knowledgeable staff. It even has a fun mountain view.
Keep heading east to the visitor center at the edge of downtown Hendersonville. It is well worth the stop. The visitor center staff and volunteers would love to direct you to places that suit your interests. With five museums and several restaurants and shops in downtown Hendersonville, this concierge service is priceless.
We adored Mezzaluna, with a wood fired oven surrounded by a Van Gogh inspired tile wall. The Pancetta and Fig pizza is oh so good. And we could not leave town without a box of goodies from McFarlan Bake Shop – that may have been our third purchase there during a three-day trip!
A winding five mile drive south of downtown Hendersonville takes you to an expansive view of the mountains and valley below from Jump Off Rock.
The Hendersonville Visitor Center is also a great place to find places to discover in the surrounding towns. When I saw online that the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed our plans and route home totally changed. The staff smiled and directed us to a delicious lunch at Campfire Grill (rich in locally sourced ingredients) in nearby Flat Rock, NC, on our way back to Georgia, saving the day.
I thought I would sketch the main attractions in this post to give you a clue of where they are in relation to each other. I recommend you ask Google for a second opinion before you start that car though! Enjoy your time in the North Carolina Mountains.
This article was written by Connie Cottingham.
Bio: Connie is a travel writer specializing in public gardens and outdoor pedestrian spaces, as well as a landscape architect and a garden writer. This Southern girl has gardened in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia. ‘Love Notes from the Garden’, her weekly garden plants and advice emails, are short, humorous, and informative. Follow her blog and sign up for ‘Love Notes from the Garden’ or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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