published Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Southern Blooms at Rock City

The sixth annual Southern Blooms Festival at Rock City Gardens returns this weekend with daily speakers, garden tours and music to honor Rock City's original gardener, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 3-4.

Three speakers, all with Southern ties, will be featured each day: chef, writer and TV personality Virginia Willis, storyteller Andy Offutt Irwin and gardener Felder Rushing. All will be available for meet-and-greets and book signings after their workshops.

Willis will share secrets for dressing up Southern dishes while doing doing a food prep featuring local ingredients. She is the food editor for Southern Living, former kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living Television and author of "Bon Appetit, Y'all!"

Irwin is an entertainer, writer, musician and recent winner of the Storytelling World Award for his latest CD, "Risk Assessment."

Rushing is the founder of the "slow gardening" movement and has written several books.

Garden tours to see such species as rhododendrons, native azaleas, mountain laurel and rose campion are being offered daily at 10 a.m., led by Rock City's director of horticulture, George Schimpf, and Master Gardeners of Hamilton County (limited space). Gardening advice will be available in the vendor area near Lover's Leap.

Coca-Cola will sponsor an interactive rain barrel workshop at 3 p.m. in the pavilion.

Kids can make-and-take scented tissue paper flowers, among other activities. The Old Time Travelers will entertain between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The full schedule can be found at

Rock City is at 1400 Patten Road on Lookout Mountain. Admission is $19.95 for adults, $11.95 for children 3-12. For more information, call 706-820-2531.

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