Frost in the Valley
A stunning late-season garden in a valley of the Appalachian Mountains, in North Carolina, has profuse plantings of dahlias, asters, salvia, and more.
This beautiful garden in a valley of the Appalachian Mountains belongs to Vivien Clark Phillips. Here's the story of her garden as told to Becca Bergman Bull.
My garden—my happiness, the place that brought so many friends to my door—is in Newland, North Carolina, in a valley of the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of the North Toe River.
I grew up near here on a truck farm. We grew potatoes, corn for the cornbread and to feed the hogs, and beans and cabbage to sell.
Now at 72, I’m retired from teaching in public schools. I created my garden, about two acres, in 1997-98 with landscape designers Suzanne Edney and Edith Edelman. It’s evolved greatly since then, and I largely do the maintenance myself.
A friend of mine refers to it as a teaching garden because I’m constantly experimenting with “what would happen if … ?”
My favorite late-season plants are asters, salvia, rabbit tobacco—one of those great wild weeds—and dahlias.
Dahlias belong in these Appalachian Mountains like yellow belongs on a banana. Most old-country homesites had at least one big dinner plate-size dahlia, and folks would trade and share with their neighbors.
As I wait for spring, I look for pulsatilla. It blooms early, just before the tulips.