Sunday, April 19, 2015

Black Mountain Tailgate Market Returns on May 2

[Photo Credit: Black Mountain Tailgate Market Facebook Page]

Exciting news! One of our guests' favorite tailgate markets returns for the 2015 season on Saturday, May 2.

The Black Mountain Tailgate Market is one of our local tailgate markets, located in Black Mountain, North Carolina, about 10-15 minutes west of the Inn on Mill Creek B&B. The market offers seasonal vegetables, fruit, honey, cheeses, pasture-raised meats, and even cut flowers, from local growers and farmers. But it's more than just a farmers' market. You can also browse local art and handmade crafts, buy fresh baked goods from local bakers, and mingle with our wonderful local community as well as visitors to the area.

[Photo Credit: Black Mountain Tailgate Market Facebook Page]

The Black Mountain Tailgate Market runs from 9am to noon on Saturdays from May through October. Just head into Black Mountain on State Street, turn north onto Montreat Road at the Town Square and watch for the tents set up behind First Baptist Church.

For more information about the market, visit http://blackmountainmarket.org.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Black & White Garden Spring 2015 Update

For a few years, we (we meaning Brigette) had a White Garden going at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B near the Mountain Laurel Room. A White Garden is the kind of garden that has only white blooming flowers and white or silver foliage plants. So, for example, we have white shasta daisies, white astilbe, white daffodils, white lilies, white irises, white roses, a white butterfly bush...you get the picture.

It's a nice garden space. Pretty. But limiting. In thinking about how we could keep the garden interesting as time went on, we came across a near-black flower version of a white flower we were already using in the garden. Voila. Light bulb moment. Why not a Black & White Garden? Yes.

We're now in Year 2 of transforming the White Garden into the Black & White Garden, which now features not only white blooming flowers and plants with white/silver foliage, but flowers that are black or near-black, as well as plants that have dark foliage.

Last year, black hellebore, as well as black lilies, and black hollyhocks (which we planted too late in the season to bloom, but hopefully they'll bloom this summer) were among the dark plants added. And this year, we will be including the following:

"Black Beauty" Cimicifuga - This is a tall, dramatic-looking plant that has black foliage. It's white flowers bloom in late summer. Butterfly friendly and fragrant? Awesome. Deer and rabbit resistant? Yes, please. Black and white? Well, that settles it. This plant is perfect for our garden. We are getting one baby-sized, of course, so it will be fun to watch it grow up in the garden.

Cimicifuga "Black Beauty" [photo: NDSU]
"Turkish Delight" Sedum - sedums (stonecrop) are one of our favorite plants. You'll see them in sunny garden spaces all over the Inn on Mill Creek B&B. The kind of plant that provides four-season interest, sedums are tough and pretty. They show up in spring with clusters of leaves that form a mound in summertime, and then by mid- to late summer and into fall, they have small flower clusters, which dry and create a little bit of winter interest in the garden. There are so many varieties out there now, and "Turkish Delight" is a great fit for the Black & White Garden at the Inn.  It has dark purple/burgundy foliage, almost black. And it's a dwarf variety, so it can be tucked easily in front of the shasta daisies to create nice contrast.

Sedum "Turkish Delight" [photo: Blue Stone Perennials]
Other additions this year includes white flowering hostas and dark and light leafed coral bells to fill in a shady area.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2015 Pioneer Day in Old Fort is April 25

2012 Pioneer Day demonstration [photo: Mountain Gateway Museum]

The Pioneer Day festival in our town of Old Fort, NC, celebrates the spirit and ingenuity of American pioneers who lived in the mountains prior to and after the Revolutionary War, when our nation was just getting going. A huge part of our area's mountain heritage carries on today, in the form of art and craftwork, like quilting, weaving, pottery, etc., and trades such as woodworking, black smithing, etc. Family-friendly Pioneer Day features demonstrations of many of these, along with vendors selling various handmade items.

Pioneer Day is held on the last Saturday in April on the grounds of the Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center in historic downtown Old Fort, 15 miles east of Asheville, NC. For more information, contact the museum at 828-668-9259, or visit https://www.facebook.com/MtnGatewayMuseum.

Monday, March 30, 2015

North Carolina Mountain Birds: Purple Finch

We've chosen a colorful fellow to help us wrap up winter and head into springtime in the mountains of Western North Carolina: our March 2015 bird in our 12 Months of Birding at the Inn blog series is none other than the Purple Finch.

Purple Finch at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, March 2014
The Purple Finch is a winter visitor to the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, and we typically see this bird most often in late March and early April, during the transition between winter and spring. In the eastern United States, it spends most of the year up north, including summers in Canada. We're fortunate that they head our way when the weather is colder, providing bold color and a warbling tune in winter when most colorful songbirds have migrated further south.

Purple Finch at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, late March 2015
While some finches, such as the American Goldfinch, are vegetarians, the Purple Finch adds a few insects into its diet of seeds and nectar.

To identify a Purple Finch, look for the telltale raspberry pink-red hue adorning the head and chest of the male, mixing in with the brown on its back. The female is brown and white, with a strong streaked look.

Female Purple Finch [photo: Wikipedia]
The Purple Finch's bill is large, short and conical (all the better to crack large sunflower seeds with), and the tail is relatively short and noticeably notched. The notched tail and (in males) the raspberry coloring extending past the nape are good ways to distinguish Purple Finches from House Finches, which are similarly colored. In addition, the underparts of a Purple Finch are less streaky than a House Finch.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bathroom Remodel Complete!

We're excited to announce a little (well, two little and one big) facelift to bathrooms in three of our guest rooms. Two rooms, the Mountain Laurel Room and Maple Tree Room, have new tile showers, while the most popular room at the Inn on Mill Creek Bed &Breakfast, the Evergreen Room (formerly the Lake View Room), has a brand new bathroom with walk-in tile shower and large jetted air spa tub.

Here's a sampling of the new bathrooms in two of the rooms -- the Evergreen Room and the Mountain Laurel Room (both king bed rooms):

Evergreen Room at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B
Evergreen Room Bathroom
Evergreen Bathroom
Mountain Laurel Room at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B
Mountain Laurel Room Bathroom
The Inn on Mill Creek B&B is starting to book up for the spring, especially on the weekends, so check www.innonmillcreek.com for availability and to plan your stay in the Asheville/Black Mountain area.

Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 Biltmore Blooms, March 20 - May 25

It's Spring, which means it's time for the annual celebration at Biltmore Estate known as Biltmore Blooms. Biltmore, located in Asheville, NC, is an 8,000-acre estate owned by descendents of George Washington Vanderbilt.

Much of the estate grounds is like a big nature park, allowing for visitors to meander along different pathways, surrounded by spring-blooming shrubs and flowers. In addition, there's a neat garden consisting of three large concrete pools/ponds that contain water plants and koi, called the Italian Garden, as well as huge formal garden called the Walled Garden, where thousands of tulips are planted along with other plants and shrubs (as well as plenty of green space). Beyond that garden is the Rose Garden and the Conservatory, a glassed in two-story building full of beautiful plants.

Did we mention a 15-acre Azalea Garden?

Essentially, you could spend the entire day in the gardens at Biltmore. This makes the discounted two-days-for-the-price-of-one tickets available at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B a real deal, because you can't "do" Biltmore without also checking out the 175,000-square-foot, completely furnished, meticulously maintained, amazing Biltmore House.

Bloom times of different shrubs and flowers varies at Biltmore, so here's a quick estimate of some favorite blooms, and some photos from previous years:

Late March/Early April: Daffodils, pansies, forsythia, magnolias
Mid-to-late April: Dogwoods, redbuds, tulips; also, deciduous trees leaf out
Late April/Early May: Azaleas, wisteria, peonies
Mid-to-late May: Roses, rhododendrons, snapdragons

Tulips in Biltmore Estate's Walled Garden, early April

Azalea Garden at Biltmore Estate, late April

Wisteria near Biltmore House, early May

Azaleas at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, early May

Rose Garden at Biltmore Estate in May

Biltmore House viewed from the Lagoon in May

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bald Eagle in Old Fort, NC (March 10, 2015)

Well, well, well, what do we have here?

Bald Eagle perched near Mill Creek Road in Old Fort, NC
Bald Eagles are not spotted very often in our neck of the woods inside Pisgah National Forest east of Asheville. In fact, we note just a few sightings in the Asheville area since January of this year on eBird.

After a friend told us that he had seen a bald eagle for about a week near our Bed & Breakfast, curiosity got the better of us and we headed out today to take a look. Sure enough, there it was, perched in a tree along Mill Creek Road near a pond, about two miles from the Inn on Mill Creek B&B, in Old Fort (McDowell County, North Carolina).

Bald Eagle on Mill Creek Road near the Inn on Mill Creek B&B
Here's a very short video:



And a little bit of information about the bald eagle from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

Once abundant in North America, the species became rare in the mid-to-late 1900s—the victim of trapping, shooting, and poisoning as well as pesticide-caused reproductive failures. In 1978 the bird was listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Since 1980, gentler treatment by humans along with the banning of DDT (the bird’s main pesticide threat) have led to a dramatic resurgence. By the late 1990s, breeding populations of Bald Eagles could be found throughout most of North America. In June 2007, the bird’s recovery prompted its removal from the Endangered Species list.

Have you ever seen a bald eagle in your area?