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French Broad River Garden Club Annual Plant Sale features Heirloom Seeds

The French Broad River Garden Club holds their annual Spring Plant Sale Saturday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Clem’s Cabin in south Asheville. A wide variety of vendors will bring locally-grown flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees for purchase, along with interesting garden art, tools, and pottery.

As the theme of this year’s sale is a focus on heirloom seeds, there will be seed vendors and experts on hand to discuss planting seeds, saving seeds, and discussing the difference in heirloom, hybrid and GMO seeds.

An heirloom is generally considered something of value that’s passed down through generations, and heirloom seeds have been shared because of their excellent flavor, scent, hardiness, and adaptability. Some have fascinating histories and they’ve stood the test of time. Some varieties are centuries old and can continue to be saved and enjoyed for generations to come.

Seeds produced from heirloom plants will be identical to the parent plant. They’ve not been genetically modified.

There’s a renewed interest and demand for heirloom flowers and vegetables, and attention on the importance of saving these seeds for future generations.

Heirloom seeds are open pollinated, so they will grow true to seed which is an economical advantage to heirlooms – no need to buy new seeds each year. Planting and saving heirlooms aids in protecting seed diversity which ensures that we have varieties that will adapt to different climate conditions and certain diseases.

All proceeds from the plant sale go towards our scholarship fund for local students majoring in horticulture, conservation, or environmental issues.

Some history about the French Broad River Garden Club-

Nestled in the corner of Hendersonville Road and Deanwood Circle is a tranquil place, away from the bustling sound of cars on their way to here and there. This is the French Broad River Garden Club Foundation’s headquarters and gardens, 1000 Hendersonville Rd, 28803.

Since its charter in 1927 and admittance to the Garden Club of America in 1930, The French Broad River Garden Club has been involved in a variety of community projects, all of which reflect a strong commitment to promote the conservation, development and intelligent use of the natural resources of North Carolina and to encourage horticultural activities in our area.

The Garden Club holds two annual fund-raisers, both of which are traditional events much enjoyed by many people in the region. The first of the two is the Christmas Greens Market, which began in 1927; it had two purposes, to teach accepted conservation principles for harvesting greenery and to help provide income for mountain families. Initially, it taught mountain neighbors how to harvest holly and over the past eight decades has grown in success and popularity. Pine cone wreaths were introduced in the 1950’s and today offerings include freshly cut Frazier Fur trees, lush wreaths and roping, hand-carved wooden bowls, sculptural baskets, bulbs, hand-forged iron pieces, homemade baked goods and more.

In 1955 the French Broad River Garden Club Foundation was established as a tax-exempt foundation that could raise tax deductible funds. Since that time, raised monies support annual scholarships for students in the area to study environmental science, conservation, forestry, and landscape architecture. The scholarship recipients have attended institutions including UNC Asheville, Warren Wilson College, Haywood Community College and Brevard College.

In 1958 the Foundation bought property on the corner of Hendersonville Road and Deanwood Circle, across the street from Browntown Road in Biltmore Forest. Logs from a Madison County log cabin were bought and reconstructed on the property. A second cabin was given to the Foundation in 1961. The facility became the home of the Biltmore Country Market, a cottage industry that remained on the property until 1981. Today, the Biltmore Country Market is the home of Susan Nilsson Interiors while the garden club uses Clem’s Cabin for its meetings and utilizes the greenhouse and potting shed for member workshops and other horticultural activities.

In 1991 the future of the Foundation complex as it existed was put in jeopardy by the widening of Hendersonville Road. After meeting with DOT officials in Raleigh, a compromise was reached that included moving the cabins and digging up most of the gardens. Reconstruction of the gardens has taken place over a number of years and hundreds of hours have been spent by members in developing the current footprint of sustainable gardens.

Today The French Broad River Garden Club Foundation Complex is a thriving, multi-use facility that contributes to the enjoyment of those who use it and to those who participate in our fundraisers. In addition to the annual Greens Market fundraising event is the annual Plant Sale which takes place at the end of April every year on the property. In addition to vendors selling plants and unique garden items, members bring plants from their own private gardens to sell. It is a festive day in the gardens, rain or shine.

All are welcome to visit the gardens which are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day.

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