Outside Clyde Visited

On the side of a mountain in North Carolina is a little bit of paradise. Make that a big chunk of paradise. The dogwoods were in full beautiful bloom last weekend when a planned trip to visit fellow blogger and author of
Outside Clyde , all around good guy, Christopher C., came to fruition. Sitting around the dining table getting to know each other while the wind howled like a banshee outside and the rain pelted the windows, one couldn’t help but notice that it’s all about the view up there.

We were waiting for a break in the weather so a tour of the hillside woodland could be led by the fair Bulbarella and her able husband, The Contractor, along with some commentary added by horticultural whiz Christopher. Finally the sun peaked out just long enough for us to brave the steep and narrow trails to see the results of over thirty years of slope taming. Native and exotic plants were in various stages of bloom. It was hard to know where to look, the hosts kept a quick pace as there was lots of ground to cover in the figure eight paths that traversed the rocky terrain. Thankfully Chris reminded me to take some pictures, pointing out a large grouping of the iris cristata. The wind was still blowing and the temperature seemed to be dropping, but we were entraced by the story of the choosing of the property, the building of the house and the planting of the diverse group of flowering shrubs. Many of the plantings have propagated themselves through the years, scattering their offspring over the land.

High on the itinerary was the viewing of the rock art built by Christopher at the entrance to his new home. In the background is the framed cabin he is building himself, with direction and assistance from The Contractor.

Builder and contractor viewing their project with well deserved pride. The concrete pillars, metal strapping and well constructed carpentry work are impressive and sound. The rock wall is a true work of art, fit together precisely and thoughtfully.

The view from the window in the kitchen where a table and chairs will sit. The changing of the seasons can be recorded while enjoying a cup of coffee. The structure looks out to the west, to best partake of spectacular sunsets through mountain mists.

If you click to enlarge, you will notice Christopher laughing at the request by the photographer to lift a rock and replace it to simulate the actual building of the rock wall under the cabin. The key word in this undertaking has been the practice of patience, he says. To get things right, each stone placement needs to be studied thoroughly.

Plants were brought from the Faire Garden to reside on the mountain, and our host kindly reciprocated with wood hyacinths, trilliums and the much desired black jack in the pulpit. A million thanks for these gifts, we will do our best to give them the same quality growing conditions they enjoyed on their hillside home. We have a hill also, but our soil cannot compare to the crumbly leaf mould found in Christopher’s woods.

Native larkspur dotted the landscape, spreading from across the road and onward down the trails.

Huge and magnificent rhododendrons were just coming into full bloom.

The Contractor told us this one is ‘Blue Boy’, a replacement for another lesser variety that had succumbed. It has amazing coloration with the spray of wine colored freckles across the top of the pale violet blue petals.

From the top of the property, which is also the county line marked by a barbed wire fence, you can see over the roof of the house. The vertical element of the tall tree trunks, the green sward of bulb, wildflower and tree foliage, the blue haze of the cloud laden mountains in the distance make this a perfect picture of being one with nature. They have used the lay of the land to carve for themselves homes and gardens that are the stuff of dreams.

Thanks to Bulbarella, The Contractor and Christopher for a fabulous ending to a wonderful Mother’s Day.


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53 Responses to Outside Clyde Visited

  1. Cinj says:

    Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all. Those gifts sound amazing. I hope to find some woodland flowers growing in my forest this year. I know there aren’t any trilliums as I adore them and would not have missed spotting one no matter how oblivious I was last year.

  2. Frances, says:

    Hi Cinj, we did have a great visit. Bloggers are the best! Christopher was more than generous with his woodland treasures. They were very hard to spot as we went out to dig them, he even knew where they were. Go slowly through your woods at the proper time and look carefully, we have a type of trillium here that is so tiny you can barely see it. The overgrowth sometimes hides stuff also. Good luck!

  3. garden girl says:

    Frances, how neat to have the opportunity to visit a garden blogging friend. It sounds like a good time was had by all. I hope your new pass-along plants thrive in your garden!

  4. Frances, says:

    Hi Linda,thanks. The weather was not cooperative, the wind tried to blow us off the mountain, but we had a fabulous visit. Before spring fling, visiting someone I had never met would not have been an option taken, being kind of an introvert, but no more. Meeting and speaking with someone who shares your love of gardening and is familiar with the blogs you read is like meeting with old friends. I highly recommend it!

  5. Meems says:

    Frances, I LOVE the mountains of NC. Christopher has carved out a beautiful piece of land and is doing a fabulous job on that cabin. I was right there with you on your visit as you describe the cabin, the country side… the stone wall. Very nicely done and I’m so glad you had a great time even though the weather was trying to hinder. Happy Mother’s Day to you BTW.

  6. Frances, says:

    Hi Meems, you are so right about NC. Christopher’s place is perfection. It was fun to get to see it and ask him questions about the whole project. It is not far from us and we go to Asheville regularly so we may get to have a revisit. Thanks and HMD to you too.

  7. Gail says:


    What a fabulous visit and the black jack in the pulpit sounds wonderful, can’t wait to see them growing in Faire Garden.

    This weather has been strange and it looks like more is heading this way! When did Tennessee become Oklahoma?

    You are right about visiting blogging friends…you do get to know folks when you visit their blogs regularly, but something magical happened with Spring Fling to make it easier.


  8. Frances, says:

    Hi Gail, it was such a successful visit, the weather was merely a minor annoyance. Seeing the mountainside and hearing its story was fascinating, as well as meeting wonderful folks. Even The Financier loved it.

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I knew you would enjoy the visit but when you say the Financier enjoyed hisself, well, you must have had a great time.

    It is good to see the Christopher that does all that hard work.

    I love the mountains his place does sound like paradise.

  10. ourfriendben says:

    Wow Frances, what a marvelous experience! We love Asheville as well, and try to go there at least twice a year. A beautiful setting for a delightful city! Glad you had such a wonderufl time, and that both of you now have treasures to remind you of each other. I think that’s one of the great joys of gardening, when every plant carries a story and a memory…

  11. Christopher C. NC says:

    A wonderful post. Thank you Frances. I was so glad you were able to visit. We all enjoyed meeting you and part of your family.

    Even though we did not let the weather hinder us too much, you still deserve a rain check for another visit when we can linger in the mountaintop gardens and meadows.

  12. Frances, says:

    Lisa, you are very astute. I had apprehensions about how the others would like going to see another blogger, but the location was a superstar, and the humans turned out to be superstars as well.

    OFB, We go to Asheville frequently, let us know when you next plan a trip there, we can try and meet up!

  13. Frances, says:

    Hi Christopher,thanks, glad you liked it. It was easy to write after seeing what photos turned out to remind me of what was seen and heard. That was some kind of wind up there, I look forward to being there on a calmer day. Now I know what kind of plants that I can share would do well in your gardens also. Thanks for being superb hosts to us all.

  14. Linda Lunda says:

    WoW! This hous is just wonderful!
    What happines to be able to live there!
    Best Regards Linda

  15. Rose says:

    This looks like heaven, Frances! And how wonderful that you could share plants; I’m sure you will find a special place in your garden for these passalongs.
    Chuckled at the chickens’ names in yesterday’s post:)

  16. Frances, says:

    Hi Linda, thanks for dropping by. There is indeed much happiness at those beautiful houses on the mountain.

    Hi Rose, It was wonderful to be able to exchange plants. That is one of the real joys of gardening, giving part of your treasures to another gardener. The naming of all animals at Chickenpoet’s is a source of astonishment here.

  17. chuck b. says:

    That’s excellent! Well, I haven’t read the post yet. But one of these days I’m going to visit outside Clyde. Now that I know it would also be feasible to visit Faire Garden in the same swoop, I’m going to work harder to get on your good side.

  18. Frances, says:

    Chuck b., thanks, hope you take time to actually read it too. That would be wonderful for you to visit us, we are about three hours apart by car, however if we were birds and could fly over the mountains it would be much shorter. For some reason the road builders chose to take the interstate to Knoxville from Asheville, rather than Faire Garden. It is still a harrowing trip, two tunnels go through the mountain on the interstate and it winds along the river, you can sometimes see white water rafters on there. I don’t know how you could get any farther on my good side. ;->

  19. chuck b. says:

    What an impressive tour, Frances! I can’t believe how different it looks through your eyes [lens]. I appreciated the view down on cabin-in-progress, and with Christopher there for scale, the scope of his accomplishment really comes in to view. What a wall!

    And that rhodie… I traditionally do not get excited about rhodies, but hubba hubba.

  20. Frances, says:

    Hi again Chuck, when Christopher posts pictures of his cabin, you can’t get the feel for its size, also the rock wall and the steepness of the whole property. That is the most beautiful coloration of rhodie ever, very healthy and robust. I appreciated seeing the post about your garden seen through the eyes of another. It is probably always that way. So much fun!

  21. Cindy says:

    Frances, what a wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day! The more pictures I see of Asheville, the more I want to visit. Thanks for sharing your visit with us 🙂

  22. tina says:

    Such beauty! Love those rhodies and larkspur and the rock walls! It will be amazing when he finishes it all. That is how I would be, plan the landscape first!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a dream that would be; waking up in the crisp mountain air with pure natural beauty surrounding you. I can imagine sounds and sights that create such a peaceful feeling. I’d say the journal keeping could inspire intellect comparable to that of Thoreau.

    Glad you had such a good time.
    Much Love, CP

    P.S. I hope you grow some of those goodies to share!

  24. Frances, says:

    Hi Cindy, you would love Asheville. The city fathers have figured out that the tourism industry is a good one and make every effort to offer lots for all types of visitors. The name of the minor league baseball team is The Tourists! There are art shows and outdoor festivals all the time and in the fall they do lots of leaf color changing themed stuff. That is when the rates are highest and the hotels get booked up. And let’s not forget the Biltmore, allow a whole day for that. Asheville should hire me for advertising! HA

  25. Frances, says:

    Hi Tina, oh yes, get those slow growing tree and shrubs in first. There is heavy forestation there, and the parent’s have been gardening for thirty years on their part of the property, so he will have lots to choose from. Spireas grow in the gravel driveway, bulbs and wildflowers have spread all over, it is amazing.

    Chickenpoet, the whole thing reminded me of Thoreau, I almost put that in the post at the end. It seems very isolated, and when asked about that, they said that’s the way they liked it. I hope to return for another visit and study the plants more.

  26. mashley says:

    you’re such a great writer and photographer. your blogs capture the trips perfectly from the beauty to the emotion to the fun! thanks for being a great mom too-love mashley

  27. Nancy J. Bond says:

    It looks like a truly magical spot — I can’t imagine living in such enchantment. Thanks for sharing your day.

  28. Frances, says:

    Oh Mashley, how sweet you are. We love having you in our family and I consider you the third daughter. Glad you enjoyed the trip, since we didn’t get to speak after leaving. We had quite a wild ride home, with the wind and rain, hope yours was calmer. love.

    Nancy J., It was something out of a fairy tale, the old growth woods and wildflowers and the most incredible view imaginable.

  29. Annie in Austin says:

    Oh, Frances! I am consumed with jealousy that you got to meet Christopher and see his work and at the same time am vicariously thrilled that you were able to meet. The blog world is indeed miraculous in the way it links us together both intellectually and emotionally!

    I especially enjoyed seeing the beautiful mountain aerie through your eyes. Thanks and Happy Mothers’ Day just a few days late.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  30. Frances, says:

    Thanks Annie. It was thrilling. I was so excited as we drove up the mountain, I didn’t even feel carsick, like I usually do on those types of roads. You wouldn’t believe the weather conditions, but we tramped up and down the mountainside like the good hillbillies that we are. Happy Mother’s Day to you also.

  31. Robin's Nesting Place says:

    I love the mountains! I can’t imagine waking up to that spectacular view every morning. What a special treat for you to see this lovely work in progress!

  32. Frances, says:

    Hi Robin, the view was spectacular. Growing up in flat Oklahoma, I think there is nothing better than mountains. Thanks for visiting.

  33. Brenda Kula says:

    How lucky they are to one day get to dine with that view!

  34. Marie says:

    Beautiful photos 🙂

  35. Frances, says:

    Hi Brenda, yes, imagine dining with that view, and really it is from every window.

    Marie, thanks, glad you enjoyed them.

  36. Layanee says:

    Hey, how cool is that! Visiting a fellow blogger is great fun! What a beautiful spot.

  37. Pam/Digging says:

    You got to meet Christopher and tramp on the hillside and see the cabin and rock wall? You lucky duck! It’s a treat to see a few pics of Chris, who is so discreet on his own blog.

    And my heart is warmed just hearing you and Gail talk about how the Spring Fling was “magical” and made you eager to meet other bloggers. Yippee!

  38. Frances, says:

    Layanee, you are so right. Meeting other bloggers is wonderful, you already share the gardening bug and *spoken* many times, so it’s not like meeting a stranger at all. You even know what their garden looks like through their pictures on posts. It was a lovely spot, not your everyday garden variety garden.

    Pam, Chris was great and it was fun to see all his projects, meet his parents, and just try to take in the mountainside. Awe inspiring is not sufficient enough a term to describe it. We do feel the spring fling opened doors in ourselves about wanting to meet other bloggers, especially for those shy ones among us. Thanks to you Austin flingers!

  39. Christopher C. NC says:

    Dear Frances,

    We truly enjoyed your visit. We tend to be hermits, so when we get a visit, it is a special thrill. What a wonderful family you have. I’m sorry the weather wasn’t better. Please come again.


  40. Frances, says:

    Many thanks, Bulbarella and all for being such great hosts. It was well worth the drive and we hope to return on a calmer weather day to see more of the gardens.

  41. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    What a great visit you must have had! And I love that Christopher consented to your request for an “action shot” of him working on the wall, even though he was giggling about it a bit.

    Those walls look even more detailed and intricate here than they do on Outside Clyde for some reason. It really makes me amazed at the relatively short amount of time in which they have gone up.

  42. Frances, says:

    Hi Kim, the walls were amazing, as was everything about the place and people there. Chris told us of the moving of some of the large stones, moving them a couple of inches each day by himself. Imagine!

  43. ourfriendben says:

    Great idea, Frances! I’ll let you know when we’re planning the next Asheville visit and you can see what’s on your schedule. If it works out, what a delight to meet you! We have our favorite must-see spots there that we’d love to share, and doubtless you all could introduce us to more. Thanks for the wonderful suggestion!

  44. Frances, says:

    Hi OFB, Sounds good to me. I will wait to hear from you.

  45. mss @ Zanthan Gardens says:

    How cool that you got to see Christopher’s place in real life.

    I’ve been following the building of the rock wall and house via his blog. Have you noticed how different gardens look in life, though. I’d like to visit “Outside Clyde” but until I do, I’ll satisfy myself with your photos (and C’s of course).

  46. Frances, says:

    Hi MSS, it was way cool. To see not just gardens, but the cabin complete with rock walls, the serpent made of stones and the whole scene was incredible. Nature is the real star there, whether in the form of plant life, terrain or the weather! Thanks for stopping by.

  47. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    Frances, you lead a charmed life! How I wish I could have been with you as you met Christopher & family, and toured the woods & homesite. I’m not surprised you got Christopher to pose with the rock for you. Belated Happy Mother’s Day

  48. Frances, says:

    Hi MMD, I wish you were there also, you would have loved everything about it. Sometimes things fall into place like that, clean livin’ pays off! HA Belated Happy Mother’s Day to you too.

  49. Phillip says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post but I’m glad I found it. His blog is one of my favorites and I love Asheville. It is interesting to see it from a different perspective. Great post!

  50. Frances, says:

    Hi Phillip, Christopher’s blog is a must read for me, that makes the trip that much sweeter. Thanks for stopping by!

  51. Sue says:

    Wow, what a beautiful place! I had enlarged the last photo, then the phone rang, and when I came back to the computer, I was in awe of the scenery! I enjoyed your writing about it, too.

    Thanks, Sue. The garden is sort of between shows at the moment but really looks better in person than it does in photos. I didn’t realize these photos would enlarge! Thanks! 🙂

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