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Graceful place

This North Carolina couple finds peace in their wooded gardens.
  • Gardens, grounds and pets

    Don and Nancy Ackermann Cole are professional "roadies." They travel the world for work. She works as a professional consultant with private corporations; Don in a similar capacity with government agencies. Schedules pull them this way and that, one city after another. When they do get home to Asheville, North Carolina, it's their garden, grounds and pets that anchor them and give them peace. So much so, Don says, "Our home reflects the township in which we live -- GRACE!"

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • What's new, what's changed

    Once landing at home, Nancy might be found early the next morning with her shoes off, a steaming coffee cup in her hands, slowly walking the grounds of the three acres in the morning mist. "I watch for what grew while I was away, what's new, what's changed, and note what needs to be done. I'm barefoot in the garden as much as possible."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Not a lot of resting

    Don notes, "My goal in life is to get to a point where I can be like our cat, Dilhara, an old Maine Coon. She has about 200 favorite places to lie down; she follows the sun spots, is well fed, watered and cared for."<br>But there's not a lot of resting going on yet.<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Arden

    Arden, their English Springer dog, follows them around all the while they're tending to gardening chores. Nancy planning this and that, Don busy with stones, mortar, and chainsaw. In the several years they've owned their home and land which border a local country club golf course, they have worked the dense cover of trees, put in thousands of plants, added trails for access to all areas, stone stairways, and even constructed a labyrinth and bordered the unicursal pathways with sedum, river gravel and river stones -- a delight to their friends, neighbors and many grandchildren.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Exploring the grounds

    The kids come to visit at various times, especially in summer months. "The grandkids love to run and explore and I think the grounds just look huge to them," Nancy muses. They'll start out on the deck, not venturing very far. Then two of them will team up for an exploration and they're out looking for little surprises we may have left for them to discover. It's a really safe place for them to play and discover."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Pruning trees

    When they found their Mecca, it was grown up with thick brambles, brush and trees right up to the house -- so dense that all views to the mountains and the nearby town of Asheville were obscured. Nancy got busy right away with an arborist to prune the trees, the first few flower beds, and the trail system was born. They maintained the mountain cottage feel of the home and added a large deck overlooking the gardens and walkways.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Follow the contours

    They've done a handy job of letting their plans follow the contours of the natural landscape. "We let the land speak to us," Nancy says. "She'll tell you what she wants." Their trails mimic natural game-trail like contours, their benches and seats look out upon natural outcroppings of trees, open areas and vistas. Each one offers a unique view.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Indigenous plants

    "People try to impose themselves on the land, but that never seems to work out all that well," Nancy says. "Whenever possible we use indigenous plants and rocks and do everything we can to keep invasive species away," Don adds.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Master Gardener

    They do the bulk of the work themselves, with talented help from gardener friends and assistants. Nancy recently gathered her Master Gardeners' title, and became acquainted with many new resources through that program, including the North Carolina Arboretum and the Buncombe County extension office.<br>"If I get to come back in another life," Nancy states, "I'd have to do something creative -- a designer, or planner. I'm lucky now, at this stage in my life, that I can spend time planning, designing, and working in our garden. I love the changes of the garden seasons!"<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Learn more:

    Don and Nancy Ackermann Cole<br>
    221 Robinhood Rd<br>
    Asheville, NC 28804-1621<br>
    (828) 232-5547

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012

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