Monday, August 31, 2009
For my past few entries, I have posted pictures of the city of Asheville in western North Carolina. We went there one weekend during the annual ‘Belle Cherie’ festival where people sell all sorts of stuff and food along its streets. It’s a nice little city up in the hills with cool weather and interesting shops and places to eat. Some people call it an artist colony where a lot of free-wheeling spirits live and roam. Perhaps it’s an artist colony because one of America greatest writer – Thomas Wolfe was born there. I visited his home which was converted into a museum. It was actually a boarding house run by his mother and depicted in his best books. It was the first time I visited an actual writer’s home and one could imagine the influence in the writer’s mind.
Last weekend I brought my folks to the Biltmore house near downtown Ashville. I got 2 tickets at a discount. While my folks where in the museum, I walked the Deer park trail. I walked in the hills for about 2 hours, reaching the nearby French Broad River. It was a nice walk with excellent weather. I first walked through the gardens of Biltmore, the Italian garden where they played tennis and the flower garden along the wall facing the rolling hills of North Carolina. The guide said that Vanderbilt planted 5 million trees in his estate and the greatest value he ever gave was the start of the first managed forest. It was the inspiration of his landscape architect – Frank Olmstead. Olmstead was the mentor of Daniel Burnham – the architect who built Burnham Park in Baguio city in the Philippines.
The walk through the estate grounds was fun with good air and exercise. I did not realize that the whole grounds were man-made from the imagination of Olmstead. Nevertheless it was an enjoyment walking and seeing hills and the river. Some people say that the greatest achievement of Theodore Roosevelt was his conservation efforts which turned famous landmarks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone park plus millions of forest acres into parks protected by the federal government. I agree and Ken Burns has a new documentary about America’s parks which would be interesting to see. I think this is one of the things that make America great, its love for nature. This trait is similar to the Japanese who also love nature and who create one of the most elegant and sublime gardens and parks in the world.
Last Saturday evening, my friends came over and we had a barbecue. We had a nice time in the back patio that I had enclosed with a fence. I had plant a few palm trees but I fear that the tropical palms may die in winter. I also bought a few plants in the weekend that I will keep outside but bring in during the winter. I guess I have to keep abreast of the types of plants can be planted in this region. I bought that plants at Wal-Mart and I need to buy mulch to keep the moisture. My mom and dad met our friends and as usual had a good time talking with them with my mom charming them with her stories. I like my folks here and wish they could stay longer. We had a nice time driving to Biltmore for about 1 1/2 hours listening to old songs by Tony Bennet.
I took a lot of pictures in the Biltmore estate and I plan to post them here. I had already posted similar pictures of the estate taken during our last visit there. But this time, most of the pictures are of the forest trails and gardens and plants. The attraction this season is the flower carpet which gave me some ideas on what to plant in my patio. I will post these pictures in my future posts. I guess I should place some captions for my dear readers as I intended the blog to be a more a free-wheeling photo and reflections journey. Sometimes I look at my blog to learn more about myself, to see the photos I took, the books that I read, my thoughts at that time and the topics I am interested in. One can never be too old for self awareness I guess.