Breathtaking Beauty

Perched high upon the Blue Ridge Mountains, the picturesque community of Highlands, North Carolina, draws visitors year-round—to enjoy its enchanting waterfalls, lush forests and stunning vistas. But this month, dazzling home gardens take the spotlight as the town welcomes more than 1,000 nature enthusiasts to celebrate the 12th annual Mountains in Bloom garden festival. The four-day affair gives attendees exclusive entrée to five exquisite gardens in the charming Bowery region. With each outdoor space boasting distinct creativity, the tour promises to be a visual feast.

This year’s festival also includes a flower-themed lecture and demonstration by renowned New Orleans author and designer Beverly Reese Church. Plus, the third annual flower show/photography competition is sure to inspire the senses. “Mountain Memories” serves as this year’s theme, with prizes being awarded in three divisions: horticulture, artistic design and photography. And a perennial highlight of the festival is the home and garden market. Featuring live plant materials and unique items for the garden, porch, patio and home, it’s an inspirational boon for seasoned gardeners and novices alike.

Proceeds from the festival will benefit The Bascom, a non-profit visual arts center located in Highlands; the newly built campus features more than 30,000 square feet of exhibition, studio and instructional space for adults and children. Mountains in Bloom also marks the opening of a traveling photography exhibit at The Bascom. “Heroes of Horticulture”—set to run from July 8 through September 5—is a stunning collection of iconic American landscapes at risk of being forgotten, such as Charleston’s Angel Oak and the tree peonies of Linwood Gardens.


The flame azalea is native to the Appalachian Mountains. Fittingly, this showy shrub will be highlighted throughout this year’s Mountains in Bloom garden festival in Highlands, North Carolina. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Bascom, a non-profit visual arts center that features a 2,500-square-foot reconstructed barn in which to create three-dimensional art. 


The 2010 Mountains in Bloom garden festival will take place 7/8-7/11. For complete information, including ticket prices, tour times and special events, visit or call (828) 526-4949.