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From deep shade to full sun, ticketholders to this year's Black Mountain Center for the Arts Art in Bloom Garden Tour will be treated to the unique personalities of the homeowners who have generously opened their gardens.

This annual fundraising event occurs this year from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 19 and 20. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes to tour the six diverse cottage gardens throughout Black Mountain.

"Each one of the gardens is unique," said committee member Joyce Black-Woerz, tasked each year with identifying potential gardens for the tour. "It's all based on the homeowner's personal tastes, the resources they are willing to devote in both time and money, and how they use the space. There is plenty to be inspired by on this year's tour."

The location of the gardens is kept in the strictest confidence until the day of the tour, when ticketholders come by the Arts Center to pick up driving directions and a map. Tickets can be purchased at the arts center for $20 through Saturday, June 20.

In addition to the tour, ticket holders will have free access to the Upper Gallery to view the 22 floral designs created to interpret regional art (they'll also receive a 20 percent discount from five local restaurants). Those who wish to view the floral designs in the Upper Gallery but who do not want to go on the Tour may do so for $5.

Each garden will have guides to answer questions and point out areas of interest. Each garden will also have plein air painters ("plein air" is a French term meaning painting in the open air). The painters will show the work in the arts center gallery beginning June 22. At 3 p.m. June 20 just as the tour is wrapping up, there will be a presentation by former N.C. Poet Laureat Fred Chappell in the art center's theater.

"The idea," said Black-Woerz, "is to start in the gallery, spend the day touring and then use the discount at a restaurant located near the last garden. Or break it up over two days, take your time and finish up with the Fred Chappell reading."

The tour is part of a three-day event that includes a Gala Preview dinner party at 6 p.m. June 18 to celebrate the floral designs and the designers. Included in the gala's $40 ticket price is a catered buffet dinner, free wine and beer and Ultimate Ice Cream for dessert. Proceeds benefit the many programs and classes offered at the arts center.

For more information and to purchase tickets to any of the events, contact the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 225 W. State St., at 669-0930 or BlackMountainArts.org.

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