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Asheville's Father's Day Garden Tour visits 'welcoming' Kenilworth



6/14/2011 - Asheville's Father's Day Garden Tour visits 'welcoming' Kenilworth
by Adrienne Belz - Asheville Citizen Times



This year's Father's Day Garden Tour on June 19 will feature 14 homes in Kenilworth.

 The tour, a fundraising event for Asheville GreenWorks, moves to a different neighborhood each year, but Kenilworth is "real special," said Susan Roderick, GreenWorks executive director.

The neighborhood is not overly manicured, there aren't too many fences, and neighbors are eager to talk about their plants with visitors, she explained. "It's very welcoming."

Advance tickets are $15, or two for $25. All proceeds will go to GreenWorks for the beautification of Asheville, including tree planting and removal of invasive plants.

Roderick expects 200-300 people for the garden tour. Many will also attend GreenWorks' Summer Outdoor Social the night before at the DoubleTree Inn on Hendersonville Road. The two events are the group's biggest fundraising effort of the year, Roderick said.

Claudia and Michael Nix own one of the featured gardens.

"I've always gone on the tours," said Claudia Nix, who usually takes a group around the garden tour on bikes.

The couple own Liberty Bicycles, but gardening has always been a hobby for Claudia.

"My mom gave me the love of gardening -- my garden is a memorial to her," she said.

When the couple first settled in their home in 1974, their small front yard was a simple grassy, terraced yard sloping down toward the road.  At one point when Claudia Nix was mowing the lawn, she said to herself, "This is the pits. I want a garden."

They got junked railroad ties to break up the land and started planting. Eventually, the ties got old, and the soil wasn't nurturing the plants.

Then Styles Cummings, a young, energetic guy who wanted to trade work for a bike from their shop, offered to help. He designed the layout of the front yard and helped with transplanting and some stone work along the path.

Later, inspired by the rock steps created by their friend's company, The Unturned Stone, they replaced the concrete steps on the street with stones. With Cummings' help, Mike Nix began covering the trail with flag stone.

The front yard is now shady, with pachysandra covering much of the ground.

There are also coral bells, variegated hosta plants and bleeding hearts, among many other plants sprinkled around on the ground. The stone pathway winds back and forth and crisscrosses in certain sections.

Behind the house, tomatoes, Chinese cabbages, strawberries and broccoli grow among other vegetables.

Claudia Nix said that she is more into the floral side of gardening while her husband likes to plant vegetables, as well as placing the rocks.

Mike Nix said his interest comes from his childhood in rural Buncombe County. His father was a high school teacher and his family farmed 5 acres.

Claudia Nix isn't too picky about where things go, but the garden looks loved and nursed.

Plants have come from all over, too: friends, Lowe's, BB Barns and her mother.

The Nixes said their compact garden in a small yard is a testimony to how innovative and ongoing the project of a garden is.

"I like to be free, and part of my freedom is the garden," said Claudia Nix.

She dedicates the garden to her mother as well as to Styles Cummings, who died a few years after helping the Nixes with their yard.

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