Arts & Culture

Brilliant Blooms: See the Dahlias in North Carolina

Detour-worthy dahlia destinations in Western North Carolina

With its low-tech charm (no TVs), gloriously rural setting, and stellar fly fishing, High Hampton Inn in Cashiers has attracted generations of Southern families looking for a relaxing mountain escape. Garden-loving gastronomes come to the 1,400-acre estate for a different reason, though: Dinner in the Dahlias, an intimate outdoor late-summer affair that coincides with the blooming of the impressive flowers. The floral field feast is so popular that the inn plans double dates each year—August 29 and September 12—so hotel guests have two chances to enjoy a five-course meal seated at a long communal table among five-foot-tall dahlias growing alongside the golf course’s tenth fairway. Chef Michael Moore seasons dishes with herbs from the farm’s kitchen garden, resulting in thyme-and-rosemary-spiced Cornish game hens with a honey glaze and just-peaking-tomato tarts. As for party favors, they’re delightfully DIY. Says event planner Caroline Grogan, “We give guests mason jars and encourage them to walk around and clip the flowers.” —

Three more detour-worthy dahlia destinations:

50th National Dahlia Show

Free and open to the public on September 17 and 18, the flower show at Asheville’s Crowne Plaza Resort is the place to see some of the country’s top dahlia specimens, which can range from an inch to a foot in diameter. Many will be available for purchase.

Dahlia Garden

The sprawling garden at Haywood Community College in Clyde includes more than two hundred varieties of dahlias blooming beneath the property’s lofty willow oak trees. Look but don’t pick.

Poppins Posies
Mills River

Bob and Judy McLean’s dahlia oasis grows just five miles from the Asheville airport. The three-acre garden is the couple’s passion project; they sell blooms by the “ginormous bucket,” half bucket, and bouquet through autumn’s first frost.