Recently I traveled to the lovely Blue Ridge Mountain area of North Carolina. I was on a quest to visit a store in Asheville which sells gemstones, beads and other items used in making jewelry. They are known as Cherry Tree beads (check out their great website if you are interested-www.cherrytreebeads.com). I was also meeting a longtime friend for dinner but had a bit of time before she arrived. My exploring spirit always drives me to seek out all bodies of water, especially lakes which are tucked away in the countryside. I hopped in the car and drove the lovely Southern part of the Blue Ridge parkway to get to the Lake. Gazing out the window while I drove, “Spring” looked like a painter had dipped his brush into every color green that you can find in the art supplies store and painted the new growth leaves onto the trees. I went past Mt.Pisgah and turned off onto Highway 64 which takes you down to Lake Lure (only about 30 miles outside of Asheville).
As you descend into the beginning of the lake area, you come upon a beautiful flower covered bridge. The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is a wonderful stopping point to get out of your car and take time to feast your eyes on the beauty that a well-crafted flower garden can display. It was early May when I visited but the Roses and Wisteria and Pansies were in full bloom, a riot of color. The sky was azure blue and the air was warm, the sun shone down brightly, warming my soul. This Bridge is such a beautiful site which makes people stop and let the palette of colors and textures sink in. The striking beauty of these gardens allows for great pictures and selfies!
The flower bridge is built on an original old concrete, three span bridge built in the mid 1920’s across the Rocky Broad river. The original bridge allowed visitors and residents to drive around the end of Lake Lure and on to Chimney Rock village and was part of an extensive road system built when a dam was put into place to create Lake Lure itself. It is 155 feet long with pathways at both ends which extend the gardens further. A new more modern replacement bridge was built and finished in 2011. Urging by many surrounding residents, (volunteers known as the “Friends of Lake Lure Flowering Bridge”), to save the old bridge yielded this wonderful structure and the flower bridge opened in 2013.
Flowering bridges are not new, but they are rather rare. There are two in the USA which you can easily find, Lake Lure, North Carolina and Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. There are many more Bridges with flower boxes affixed to the railings around the world, check out this picture of the Astoria Lucerne Bridge i visited recently in Lucerne, Switzlerland. Not many of the bridges have flower beds and boxes built right on top of the bridge like Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. Usually flowering bridges are a collaboration of several volunteers who put in many hours planting, pruning, fertilizing and cleaning up these gardens. Some are Master Gardeners, some just volunteers, all happy to spend time communing with Nature.
The area surrounding Lake Lure is a fantastic place to vacation. There are many sightseeing trips to join, or you can drive the awesome Blue Ridge Parkway and Smoky Mountain National Park roads. These are two of the most visited National Parks in the entire country.
If you find yourself traveling through Asheville, North Carolina for work or pleasure, be sure to check out: The Omni Grove Park Inn www.theomnigroveparkinn.com , a classic arts and crafts styled hotel, with its luxury lodging, fine dining and a world class, wonderful spa. There are also many highly rated antique stores for the antique shopper and of course, the lovely Biltmore Estate www.biltmore.com (the 250 room chateau built by George Vanderbilt in 1895) with its 75 acres of formal gardens and a large conservatory. The Red Stag Grill, The Corner Kitchen, and THE VUE 1913 in the Grove Park Inn, are all fine dining restaurants in Asheville with wonderful food. If you are close by near the time of the sunset, be sure to have cocktails at the Sunset Terrace of the Grove Park Inn. Thinking about just driving the area? You will want to be sure to visit the www.blueridgeparkway.org site for detailed information on all the activities the area has to offer. There is also a wonderful organization called the Southern Highland Craft Guild https://www.southernhighlandguild.org which operates different Folk Art/Craft stores and can suggest wonderful art galleries to see, if you are interested in artisan, hand crafted items.
The Blue Ridge parkway and several dramatic pictures I took on my visit will be the subject of another blog post soon.