Az Plant Lady’s Southern Adventures

Southern Adventures

Well, I have almost recovered from our roadtrip to the east coast.  The clothes have all been washed, my huge pile of mail is now gone and I am no longer waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Our trip began by flying into Atlanta and renting a minivan before heading up to western North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Southern Adventures

I had never been to the South before and I was eager to explore.  We started our journey in Murphy and drove to Asheville.

Southern Adventures

As we were driving through the Applachian Mountains, I was captivated by the gorgeous scenery.  I also enjoyed seeing old, abandoned buildings being overtaken by trees and native vegetation.  My head kept turning this way and that trying to take it all in, which was difficult because I was the one driving at this point 😉

Montreat, NC.

The kids hanging out with their Grandma (Pastor Farmer) at the lake at Montreat, NC.

Normally when my husband and I are in the same vehicle, he is the one driving, but because my husband was already in North Carolina when we rented our minivan at the airport, he was not on the rental car contract.  Normally, my husband is always the driver when we are together.  He does not like to be the passenger.  Are any of your husbands like that? 

Now, that is not a reflection on my driving my husband says….I grew up in California and learned how to drive the freeways of Los Angeles and in the California mountains. I must admit that my husband was a great navigator while I drove as our roles were completely reversed.  Thankfully for my husband’s sake, we were able to add him as a driver to our rental car once we reached Greensboro, NC.

Our stay in Asheville was wonderful.  The highlight was our trip to the local farmer’s market.  There were many items that were common to most farmer’s markets….

Local farmer's market

Local farmer’s market

Local farmer's market
Local farmer's market

But, I was drawn to the unique items available…..    

Local farmer's market

The mountain cabbage was huge, as were the tomatoes….

Local farmer's market

Last summer, I learned how make jam from my mother.  My pantry is still stocked full of peach and plum jam from the trees of Double S Farms.  I was anxious to see what type of preserves that the farmer’s market would offer….

Local farmer's market

What I was not expecting was the unique and somewhat strange canned products that I would find.

Local farmer's market

Have any of you heard of scuppernong juice?

Local farmer's market

The names of some of the preserves were quite creative.

Local farmer's market

I told my son that I did not think that they used real toes in this jam;-)

Local farmer's market

We are working on getting my son to stop using his ‘fake’ smile when posing for photos 😉

boiled peanuts

Okay, peanuts are extremely popular in the South.  They are offered everywhere.  Now, I had never heard of boiled peanuts before, so we tried some….

boiled peanuts

Now, I hope that I do not offend anyone when I say that we really did not care for the boiled peanuts.  They must be an acquired taste…

 growing salad greens

I loved these salad bowls.  What a great idea for growing salad greens, especially if you do not have a lot of space.

Mexican Bush Sage

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) looks beautiful, even in a drab container.

fall vegetables

I love the colors of fall vegetables, don’t you?

pottery bottles

We had no idea what these scary looking pottery bottles were and asked the potter who made them.  He told us that back in prohibition times that the locals would hide their liquor inside of these bottles from the authorities.  Nowadays, he said that they use them to hide their liquor, not from the authorities, but from children.  The scarier the container, the more kids will stay away from them.

local musician

We met a local musician at the farmer’s market, selling his CD’s and playing his coffee can fiddle.  Yes….I did say a coffe can fiddle.  It really sounded good.

I was curious to see if fried foods were really as popular in the South as people say.  Well, I would definitely answer yes to that one.  You can almost find anything fried, including pies.

Southern Adventures
Southern Adventures

We had a fabulous time at the farmer’s market and got ready for the next leg of our journey which would take us on to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and then to Williamsburg, Virginia.

But, before we end our visit, I would like to share with you two of my favorite labeled products that we found at the market….

Southern Adventures

We bought a jar of this BBQ sauce for my in-laws.  Doesn’t it make you crave BBQ ribs?

Southern Adventures

That’s right, they had moonshine jelly, made from white wine.  I wish we had bought a jar 😉

Well after our farmer’s market adventure, we got back on the road and onto our next destination….

Southern Adventures
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
17 replies
  1. Candy "Sweetstuff"
    Candy "Sweetstuff" says:

    What a wonderful trip you had! I love those wonderful canned goods. The names are so funny and very creative. I bet they sell a lot just because of the names. I would have bought them! And the country looks so beautiful! My favorite shot is the kids fishing on the dock. I remember doing that in Minnesota as a kid. Great memories. Congratulations to the winners! I may to take advantage of the special subscription. Sounds like a great magazine! Take care!

  2. Antique ART Garden
    Antique ART Garden says:

    WE had our honeymoon in Asheville,NC it is a beautiful drive. Boiled peanuts are slimy and disgusting, everyone loves them here if they are originally from the South..but not me. I'm a native Texan, I eat only roasted peanuts. Great pictures, Gina

  3. Elephant's Eye
    Elephant's Eye says:

    Farm workers in South Africa make 'guitars' with a tin can. And a particular sort of traditional folk music. A few years ago the Baxter Theatre hosted Karoo Guitar Blues.

  4. Terra
    Terra says:

    First of all, your photos are gorgeous. Everything looks wonderful, even the Toe Jam LOL.
    Now you have interested me in exploring that area of the country. I live on the west coast.

  5. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    Thanks for a most entertaining and interesting post-my mouth was watering at those rich red tomatoes and that scuppernog jelly! I love to buy quality farmer's market preserves-they are miles apart from much of the supermarket stuff.

  6. debsgarden
    debsgarden says:

    Scuppernongs are a kind of muscadine grape that are native to the southeast. My husband's aunt grew them and made jelly and wine from them. Quite tasty! Boiled peanuts are a bit too salty for me, but my mother loved them.

    About those ugly face jars that are supposed to keep kids away from the alcohol – I doubt if they work!

    This is a great time of the year to visit the Applachian mountains. It looks like you and your family had lots of fun!

  7. Floridagirl
    Floridagirl says:

    We'd have boiled peanuts day after day during season when I was a girl. I would typically fall deathly ill on my first day of gluttonizing. It would be many years before we'd discover I was allergic to peanuts. But, wow, I do love 'em boiled!!! How can you not? There's nothing in the world really like them, though black-eyed peas come close. DH, who hails from Michigan, does not like them, and I can't figure that out for the life of me. No biggie, though, since we can't have them in the house anyway. So tell me, do they not fry things out west? Fried chicken and fried potatoes and fried cornbread have always been staple foods here (not to mention froglegs and flapjacks). I got a kick out of that fried baloney sign. My sisters and I lived on that during summer breaks growing up. Haha. I've never seen them for sale in a restaurant!

  8. catmint
    catmint says:

    Hi Noelle, what an interesting characterful trip. But what on earth is scuppernong? I had boiled peanuts by accident once when a friend used them in soup by mistake thinking they were beans. cheers, catmint

  9. Carol
    Carol says:

    Your timing is good for visiting the south Noelle. It was like an oven this summer. Love your photo of the building being taken over by trees while the hay lay neatly baled nearby. Love that contrast. Sweet family portrait with the stunning mountains and I love the lake photo! Your farmers market sharing is fun . . . what great names for jelly. Scuppernong, according to my dictionary, is a type of grape native to the basin of the river with the same name in North Carolina. I guess they make wine too. What a fun name! I love love your last photo and it makes me long to see your next post. ;>)

  10. Rose
    Rose says:

    This looks like such a fun trip, Noelle! I've always wanted to go to North Carolina; the Biltmore Estate is on my "must see" list. Love all the different jams you saw–the only time I've heard of scuppernongs was while reading "To Kill a Mockingbird." They are some kind of grape, right? I have tried boiled peanuts, though, from a friend originally from Atlanta. I agree with you; it must be an acquired taste:) I'm sure the kids' eyes must have grown big when they saw the toe jam, though:)

    Congratulations to Kristine and Helen!

  11. Gail
    Gail says:

    Noelle, What a treat to see the Southeast through a California/Arizona gardener's eyes! Isn't it filled with trees…We have the Bone Suckin BBQ sauce in our kitchen cabinet~scuppernong grapes are delicious except they have big seeds! I hope you drive through Nashville sometime! gail

  12. Helen
    Helen says:

    Looks like a great road trip! I've just gotta ask something ~ is your kid's Grandma (Pastor Farmer) a real Pastor? Do they call her "Grandma" or "Pastor Farmer"?
    PS – I love roasted peanuts, but those boiled peanuts look NASTY!

  13. says:


    Thank you so much for your comments, especially from those of you native southerners.

    I now know that scupperong jam comes from a grape that grows in the south. Thanks to Deb, Carol, Rose and Gail for the id.

    Gail, I must tell my in-laws that I know someone else who has the same BBQ sauce we bought. I do hope travel to Tennessee someday…we were awfully close this time.

    Helen, my mother is a retired Presbyterian Pastor and she created her name for my Double S Farm posts.

    From your comments, I have come to the conclusion that you have to have been born in the south to enjoy boiled peanuts. I do love finding about new things though.

    Catherine, if you ever figure out how to get rid of kid's fake smiles, please let me know 🙂


  14. Helen
    Helen says:

    How interesting to see the South through a non-native’s eyes. So much of what might amaze you would just seem like such a normal thing to me.

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