Birds and a Resolution

I decided to stop feeding the birds this summer, particularly because the feeders draw in the squirrels, which makes my dog go crazy, running and chasing. She ended up with a torn CCL recently and I realized that I was just baiting her into running after squirrels.

To make a long story short, my feeders are being stored for now. I will bring them out to the front yard after the bears go to sleep and a spot far from where the dog can chase the squirrels.

 The upshot of this I’ve made my first resolution for the new year. It’s a bit early, but I’ve decided that I’m going to feed my birds from what I grow, not from feeders. This morning in my perennial bed where I’ve left up all the seedheads were maybe 20 birds, five different kinds. Finches were dancing on the coneflower seedheads, and on the ground were several types of sparrows with juncoes, cardinals and a rose-breasted grosbeak.

They had plenty to eat since I left my garden wild for the winter. These stems and debris also harbor insects including the pollinators we need to keep our planet healthy. And, below the leaf litter are the pupae of caterpillars which will feed the birds in spring when they emerge.

So, my resolution is that next year when the gardening and plant-buying bug hits me, I will concentrate on only growing what provides food for the birds and other wildlife. Of course, in most cases, this will mean native plants as well as some non-invasive non-natives that provide food.

I collected seeds from wild stands of black cohosh (bugbane) and goldenrod, and hyssop, vervain and sneezeweed from my perennial garden. I’ve “winter-sown” them to put out in my landscape next year. And I may simply not resurrect my feeders at all. Feeding birds can be controversial. 

Here is an excellent  source from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discussing the pros and cons of bird feeding:





This time of year, it’s a joy to sit outside in the darkening evening to watch fireflies. They are coming back slowly after a scare about extinction. Pesticides and lack of habitat have forced them out but the movement to make our landscapes into more natural all-encompassing habitats is helping them regain a foothold.

I’ve been watching a movement in Britain now taking hold here in the US called “rewilding”. It is basically what we’ve been doing for years to replace our lawns with meadows, our ornamental landscapes with natives and pollinator plants. The movement is worth looking into for ideas if you are in the mode of introducing natives and pollinators to your landscape.

Instead of adding a new ornamental shrub, think about a native fruiting shrub or tree. Fill your landscape with a food forest. The upper canopy full of native fruiting trees, the shrub layer with black chokeberries or currants and the ground level with herbs to keep your trees and shrubs from being planted in a sea of grass.

Instead of blowsy flowers that have no scent, consider pollinator favorites like beebalm and coneflowers. Or something for the hummers and butterflies like native salvias and penstemon. It’s pretty easy once you start looking to find many resources on these types of plants.

If you really want to see what rewilding is all about on a large scale, check out this website: And, here is a magazine all about it as well:

And perhaps if we all make an effort to restore damaged landscapes to a more natural state, we will make better firefly habitats. Not to mention butterflies, moths, beetles………….

I, for one, simply cannot imagine a summer without fireflies.

Quick Berry Jam

Use any mixture of berries to make this jam without any pectin.

6 cups berries such as sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, chokeberries, blueberries

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

Place the berries and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir the mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a soft boil on medium heat and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the jam has thickened. Stir in lemon juice.

To test the thickness of the jam, at the start of cooking time place a few metal spoons in the freezer. Take out one spoon and coat the back. If it’s too runny, continue cooking and test every 5 minutes the jam sets. Once cooled, transfer to a glass jar with a fitted lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy on toast or sandwiches.

A Balance Garden is a Beautiful Thing

A Balance Garden is a Beautiful Thing

I have a friend with a pristine garden. It’s absolutely immaculate. Not a spot on a leaf nor a leaf on the ground. He is quite proud of his work. Yet I am so conscious when I walk into his garden that there is nothing alive but the plants. True, there are no pests. But there are also no ladybugs, no birds, snakes or toads. These usually welcome creatures are living somewhere else. Somewhere with plenty for them to eat.

Ladybug larva

 With the gardening season upon us, I can’t help but reflect on the best of last year’s garden. One of my most gratifying sights was in late September when the tomatoes were in full blush. I noticed that some of the leaves looked a little odd, sort of minimal. At this point in the season, I wasn’t concerned, although I did start looking casually for tomato hornworms. I found one and then another and then another. Every tomato plant had at least one or two of these giant green caterpillars, and they had feasted on some of the top leaves.

When I questioned him about how he got his garden so clean, he hemmed and hawed a bit, and then had to admit the truth. He has an unbelievable routine of chemical pest control and fertilization. If he didn’t spray constantly, pests and diseases would quickly make short work of his garden and he knows it.

The beauty of this picture was that each caterpillar was bedecked with white cocoons of braconid wasps. These tiny wasps lay their eggs inside the caterpillars, and as the eggs hatch and grow, the larvae weaken and eventually kill the caterpillar. These wasps in my garden prevented the hornworms from producing that nightmare, the skeleton tomato plant with no leaves. My husband thought it cruel that I left the caterpillars with their guests in the garden, but I took great joy in wishing them well.

Tomato hornworm with wasp cocoons

The best part about seeing these caterpillars is the reinforcement that my garden is naturally balanced with predators and prey. This is what all organic gardeners strive for, and it’s such an ephemeral thing that you never quite know how in-balance your garden is. But a garden out of balance is one in which a pest can come in and wipe out a crop or a shrub before the gardener is even aware of what is going on.

A critical aspect of the entire idea of pest management is that we must tolerate a few pests. As long as they don’t reach critical proportions and do unacceptable damage, they are actually helping by providing food for the beneficial insects.

With all we hear these days about the value of preventive health care, it seems logical to take the same approach in the garden. It makes so much more sense to prevent problems from the outset instead of having to resort to methods that are more drastic than necessary.

It’s true that the best thing you can put into a garden is your shadow. Spending time in the garden with a practiced eye will alert you to the first tiny holes in the broccoli leaves from flea beetles or the tips of your roses adorned with tiny pink aphids. Yet how satisfying to see a ladybug larva with its huge jaws around one of those aphids or to put up row covers knowing the beetles can’t get in.

Kate Jerome



Don’t Dig

Leave your soil alone this spring. Please. And this means letting that rototiller collect cobwebs. Or better yet – give it away. Why you might ask?

Well, rather than making a comfortable growing space, tilling or deep digging to turn over the soil actually destroys the soil structure. All you need to do is copy nature’s cycle and add compost to the surface. Nature – the life in the soil and the plant roots – will take care of all the work for us. Who wants more work to do?

In his recent book “No Dig: Nurture Your Soil to Grow Better Vegetables with Low Effort,” Charles Dowding puts it this way: “Simple is best, and taking easier approaches that work well is clever rather than lazy.”

I’m good with that. There are plenty of other tasks in the garden that a lot of physical exertion. Not having to turn my soil is a great relief.

Kate Jerome, Garden to Kitchen Consultant

Early Spring Tasks

Yes, I’m getting antsy to start gardening. This has been a strange winter, but with the pleasant weather we keep getting tempted with, I’m warming up the spading fork and thought I’d organize my tasks so I’m ready. And, I’ll share my list with you so you can get antsy, too!

Cut back ornamental grasses as early as you can. Leaving them standing will delay the onset of new growth and will also make the grass look ragged when it does emerge because it’s impossible to avoid cutting off the tips when you do finally cut it back. I like to let mine fall where they are to provide a nice mulch.

If you need a soil test, wait until the soil temperature is above 50 degrees. Temperatures below this may give you false readings. You can test your own soil with a home test kit or send it to a soil lab for more consistent results. Soils labs will also give you recommendations on what you might need to add.

Be ready to spray dormant oil on fruit trees, shrubs and shade trees. Oil should be sprayed when the temperature is at least forty degrees with no chance for rain or frost for twenty-four hours. Oil can help control aphids, scales and mites. Follow label directions carefully.

Wait until soil has begun to dry out before walking in the garden or working the soil. Take a handful of soil and squeeze. If the ball holds together, wait a few days. If the clump is easy to break apart, the soil is probably ready. Working when too wet compacts the soil and ruins its structure.

Put away the rototiller. Tilling the same spot every year breaks down the soil structure and will make your soil actually worse than if you left it alone. Plant roots are amazing structures that will take care of any soil cultivation that is necessary.

Seed into the cold frame cool season leafy plants such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and other greens.

When it’s finally time to select transplants from a garden center, make your choices carefully. Try to avoid plants that already have blossoms on them. Plants need to put out sturdy roots before using energy to push flowers. Ask if the plants have been hardened off yet so you’ll know if you must do this yourself.

Kate Jerome

Gardening Time is Near!

Come check out our table in Sandburg every other week. And join our garden crew for the growing season!

It’s so exciting to start perusing the seed catalogs and dream of the day when you see those tiny, succulent seedlings pop through the soil. But It’s important to have a schedule for starting because if you start plants too early, you’ll end up with stretched, overgrown transplants that will have a really hard time adjusting to being planted outdoors. 

The best, easiest-to-use seed-starting schedule I’ve found is at Johnny’s Seeds ( They have an interactive tool in which you simply put in your last frost date and the tool calculates when you should start all your seeds indoors. Our last frost date is usually between April 15 and 30 so I tend to use April 20 as my guide. Of course, any year can vary so it’s important to pay attention to the actual weather.  

Once the chart calculates dates, It gives a one to two-week window, so if you can’t get to sowing on the date suggested, you have some leeway. It also lists the safe set-out dates to help you plan your hardening-off process. Another interactive tool is found at

When you have your list, look at the set-out dates to time your seed-starting. For example, broccoli plants can be set out two weeks before the last frost. So you back up two weeks from April 20 for the plant out date. It takes about 4-6 weeks to grow from seeds into sturdy transplants, so back up six more weeks. You back up a total of 8 weeks from April 20 which takes you to the end of February. That’s when you start your broccoli seeds. Put all your dates on the calendar, including the seeds you start directly into the garden. Now your schedule is set!

Keep in mind that not everything on the charts needs to be started indoors (beans and corn, for example) and the charts may not have every vegetable you want to grow. You may have to do a little research. 

Gather your seed-starting materials together so you’ll be ready as soon as your schedule tells you to sow. Gather pots, labels and seed-starting mix. If you plan to use recycled pots, make sure they are well-cleaned and sanitized to avoid fungal disease transmission to tiny seedlings. I don’t advise using recycled potting soil. Take the plunge and purchase high quality sterile seed-starting mix. No guarantees, but new soil will give you the best chance of success. 

To start your seeds, moisten the planting mix with warm water and fill your containers to slightly below the rim. Firm the soil gently – don’t pack it down, and then scatter your seeds. Cover to the depth recommended on the seed packet and sprinkle the top with milled sphagnum moss to create a natural fungicide barrier. Gently spritz, cover with plastic and put the pots in a warm place. 

Check your seeds daily and remove the cover for circulation if you build up a lot of moisture. As soon as the seeds peek above the soil level, remove the cover and move them under fluorescent lights that are about two inches from the plants and are on for at least twelve hours.

Kate Jerome


Use Those Coffee Grounds

Are you a coffee drinker? We are in our house so I have a cup or so of coffee grounds every day to deal with. I throw them in my compost bin so they do get recycled. But there are so many other ways to use them. Here are a few that might give you a little inspiration to start saving your grounds.

First of all, you can add coffee grounds, paper filters and all to compost piles, worm composting bins, and simply to the garden in sheet composting style (dig them under).

Use grounds to mulch your plants. They are attractive and actually provide a mild dose of slow-release nitrogen to your plants. If they start getting a bit of mold, simply take a fork and stir them around. This goes for houseplants as well as outdoor plants.

Add a cup of coffee grounds to a quart of potting soil when repotting indoor plants. They will help retain moisture and provide a mild fertilizer. This is a great practice as you get ready to repot houseplants in the spring.

Work coffee grounds into your garden soil before seed planting to improve water-holding capacity and air space. You can simply spread them on top or use lightweight cultivation to dig them in.

Coffee grounds mixed with crushed eggshells repel snails and slugs. Simply mix dry grounds with the eggshells and sprinkle around your hostas and in the centers of the crowns.

Mix tiny carrot and radish seeds with dry coffee grounds for better spacing. You can also use sand, but coffee grounds will also help retain moisture to help the seedlings break through the soil crust.

Spread coffee grounds and orange peels in flower beds to keep cats from using the garden as a litter box. I’m trying this in one of my pots indoors that my cat has taken a fancy to.

Make a big coffee “tea” bag for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer. Mix about a half-pound can of grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water and let it let it sit for 24 hours. The grounds will settle and you can pour the liquid off. Or, put a cupful in a coffee filter, staple it shut and drop it in a pitcher of water to steep.  Water houseplants and outdoor plants.

In the kitchen, place a bowl with coffee grounds in the freezer to remove unwanted odors. And, rub coffee grounds on your hands to get rid of smells from chopping or cutting up pungent foods such as fish or garlic. You can also use coffee grounds to absorb odors in closets by filling old nylons and hanging them. Besides a bit of explaining to guests, it really works!

Kate Jerome


Garden Spot with Kate Jerome-Decorating From the Garden

The cold has driven us indoors, the garden is finished for the season, and it’s basically time to hibernate.

But, what about bringing some of the outdoors inside to help get us through the holidays and into the new year? Decorating the house with treasures from the outdoors is a great way not only to get outside for a brisk walk but to also think about how we can renew our spirits with natural materials surrounding us.

So, bundle up, take a large basket or bag and a pair of sharp pruners and let’s go find some garden gold. The materials we’ll look at fall into two categories: things that are dried and will remain in the same state for a long time, and those things that are a bit more ephemeral and will have a shorter life indoors.

Let’s start with some of the perishable materials. You will need to time bringing these indoors so that you get the most beautiful use out of them for the longest time. In other words, if you are decorating for Christmas, cut evergreen boughs to grace the mantle only about two weeks before the big day. You can certainly cut more later and do a rotation to keep yourself in greens for months.

Holly berries and rose hips make beautiful accents in wreaths and arrangements and will usually last about a month. Branches of crabapples will last a couple of weeks if kept cool. Be cautious before bringing in other berries because some of them will begin to have an unpleasant odor when they warm up. Viburnums are a good example.

Many of the woody herbs such as thyme, sage, and lavender are still in great shape for snipping, They can be used for advent wreaths or as accents with evergreen boughs or table arrangements. They will usually dry intact but you can make them last longer if you put them in water. Tuck small bowls of water beneath your evergreens and put the herb stems in them.

Vining plants such as vinca and English ivy, because of their leathery leaves, will last a couple of weeks when brought indoors. So, again, time your snipping so they will be fresh for when you want their display.

The selection of dried materials is endless, from hydrangea blossoms to grass seed heads to milkweed pods to clematis seed pods. A walk through the garden or woods will give you plenty of ideas. These can be glued onto grapevine wreaths or wired onto green wreaths. Or, use them in arrangements, on swags, or simply as a collection on a table. One of the most beautiful simple arrangements I’ve ever seen was stems of milkweed pods (empty or you’ll have seeds everywhere) with red rose hips in a tall vase on the hearth.



Garden Spot with Kate Jerome-Tree Removal

We had to remove a tree on the UU Asheville campus (near the ramp). As much as I hate to remove any tree, this one had to go. The tree, a hemlock, was declining severely without any possibility of being brought back to health. And it was near the power lines along Charlotte Street. We had Duke Energy come to assess the danger of it falling and they determined it needed to be removed. Graciously they cut it down even though it was on our campus (and didn’t charge us!). 

The decision is hard, but sometimes it’s necessary to remove a plant that is not thriving. Even though it’s a living thing, if there is a danger, if it is declining health, or even if it just makes observers grimace because it looks so bad, it may be necessary to take it away. 

The happy result of this is that we now have another sunny spot for a garden! And, the wood is still there so if anyone wants to take it away for firewood or other use, please feel free to help yourself. If no one wants it, we will have it hauled away eventually. 

Please don’t hesitate to send an email or text if you have questions about your garden.



Garden Spot with Kate Jerome-Leave Your Leaves

The leaves are finally starting to fall, which means that wonderful activity, leaf pick-up, is here. Instead of looking at them as a nuisance, why not think of them as gold for the garden? I’m going to try to convince you to change leaf pick-up into “leaf recovery.”

It means a mind shift from wanting everything to look pristine to a less tidy appearance. Why is it that when we see leaves blanketing a bed instead of commercially shredded mulch, it looks messy to us? Both are organic matter, and the leaves are actually much more colorful than shredded bark.

The leaves that turn lovely hues and then drop are nature’s source for replenishing the soil beneath trees and shrubs. A plant takes up massive amounts of nutrients through its roots as it grows to use in food production for its healthy leaves. When the plant sheds its leaves, those nutrients are released back into the soil as the leaves decay. These nutrients are waiting to be used by the plant next season to produce leaves, stems and fruits.

So, taking away the leaves simply takes away nutrients. We can add nutrients by fertilizing, of course, but for the most part, synthetic fertilizers do nothing for the soil, and certainly make a dent in the wallet.

So, can you simply leave them where they fall? And exactly how do you use these leaves that are so plentiful?

For the leaves covering your grass, think of the prairie’s cycle. Prairies don’t usually have trees, so there are few leaves. The organic matter from a prairie cycle comes from the grass itself. So, it is a good idea to clean up the leaves on your grass in order to keep the grass healthy and free from disease.

Simply mow the grass and leaves together and blow it all in your landscape beds. This is not a hard job, but may take some creative driving or pushing to round them up into beds. If your mower is a mulcher, take out the mulching chute cover so you can blow and direct the leaves as you would into a bagger. If you don’t have that capacity, you can simply mow over them a couple of times and they will be ground finely enough to leave in place.

As for landscape beds, take a walk in the woods and you will see blankets of leaves covering the ground beneath trees. This cycle of leaf fall and decay maintains the soil health and this, in turn, allows the trees to grow and remain healthy. We can easily duplicate that cycle by simply not taking the leaves away.

Keep in mind that native bees nest in the ground, and bumblebees burrow into leaf litter to spend the winter. Leaf litter also protects countless types of butterfly pupa such as black swallowtails and fritillaries.

I have a lot of leaves, so after I fill my beds, I scoop all the extra into a pile at the back of my property and let them sit there over winter. Next spring I can dig into the bottom of the pile for some of the most beautiful shredded mulch to go directly on my vegetable garden instead of straw.

After a couple of years, my leaf pile will be reduced by half and will be composted beautifully for use all over the landscape. The British have been doing this for years – they are famous for their leaf “mould” which they use in the garden and even in containers. Best of all, it’s free!


Garden Spot with Kate Jerome-Perennial Care


Here are a few tips on fall care for perennials. Although I do encourage you to leave foliage and seedheads standing through the winter, some perennials do benefit from pruning back. 

And don’t forget – we will have a congregation-wide Plant Exchange on October 30 after the service (12-2) in the gravel parking lot. As you begin to do fall clean-up, pot up any plants you wish to share. There are pots in the garage at 23 Ewin if you need them. Just remember to label the plants. And you may just come away with some new treasures! 

Bearded Iris – the foliage has most likely begun to die back already, and it will be a haven for iris borers and fungal diseases. Cut back all the foliage completely after a killing frost and dispose of it instead of composting. 

 Beebalm – if you had mildew issues in summer, cut the plants back completely and dispose of the foliage. If there was no mildew, you can leave them on through winter. 

Daylilies respond well to shearing. If you didn’t shear them back in late summer, mowing them down now will save messy cleanup in spring. 

The perennial sunflower still looks great now and will until hard frost. Leave it up and the seedheads will feed the birds and catch snow beautifully. 

Japanese Anemones are favorites of certain beetles and are often defoliated by fall. If not, the foliage of Japanese anemones turns black and unattractive with frost. Cut them back in the fall. 

Peony foliage should be removed in the fall to prevent disease issues. Dispose of it instead of composting. 

Phlox is prone to powdery mildew like beebalm. Prune and destroy all foliage and stems in the fall.  

Perennial salvia benefits from several prunings during the growing season, and in fall, cut the whole plant back to the new leaves at the base.  

Baptisia may split in the middle if not sheared back after blooming although the seed pods are beautiful in the snow. You can simply stake the pod stalks even though the foliage will turn black. 

Please don’t hesitate to send an email or text if you have questions about your garden. /


Garden spot with Kate Jerome

Echinacea Flowers Pen and Ink Vector Watercolor Illustration

Invasive Plants

One of the UU Asheville’s responsibilities to retain our Pollinator Garden certification is that we must remove invasive plants. Most of us know when a plant invades our own gardens. The first indication is that It tends to choke out more desirable plants. Invasives are usually tenacious and vigorous, but can often be beautiful as well. Which can make it a hard decision to remove it. 

This is the definition from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA: “An invasive plant is a plant that is both non-native and able to establish on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting plant communities or ecosystems.”

One such invasive that we removed from the campus last week is porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata). This was growing on the RE area fence, sporting beautiful blue and purple berries. It is quite attractive with leaves similar to grape. But it has a dark side. It is planted near the blueberry garden so it just might tempt a child to taste its berries along with ripe blueberries. I’ve found two sources that say the berries are not only NOT edible but can be toxic. And, it was engulfing parts of the sensory garden. 

From the North Carolina State Extension Service: “Porcelain berry is an aggressive weed in the Vitaceae (grape) family of the eastern United States that closely resembles native grapes. Porcelain berry is listed as an Invasive, Exotic Plant of the Southeast reseeding readily and becoming very difficult to remove.”

So, it’s gone and we’ll be keeping an eye out to prevent it from coming back. And if you have questions about a plant being invasive, drop me a line and we can figure it out together!

Notes from the Garden with Kate

Natives or Not?

Common milkweed Asclepias syriaca

We constantly hear how great native plants are for our landscapes. And this is true. With our sustainable landscape goals, native plants can thrive without human input of fertilizers, pesticides and maintenance. They are often resistant to local pests and have deep root systems that allow them to thrive without additional water as well as reduce runoff and erosion.

Native plants are rarely invasive, meaning they won’t out-compete surrounding vegetation and offer wildlife food and shelter, helping preserve biodiversity and enhance the ecosystem. Most are considered pollinator plants, something we are seriously concerned with in our sustainable landscapes.

That being said, there is also a place for non-natives. While it is a great idea to add natives to your landscape as you add or replace plants, there is certainly no reason to eliminate some of the beautiful plants native to other parts of the world. Unless they are invasive, of course.

As long as we do our research and understand how a plant will behave in the landscape, we can continue to enjoy some of the more exotic-looking plants that we love. For example, common milkweed is a prime butterfly plant. But if put into a typical home landscape, it will spread uncontrollably and can make a mess of the garden.

I, for one, don’t want to give up my hostas or Japanese maples, which are certainly not native. But I will add native Carolina sweetshrub and fothergilla to my landscape. It’s a matter of perspective and knowing your plants.

Purple coneflower  Echinacea purpurea

Notes from the Garden with Kate!

Hello, landscape and garden enthusiasts!

The landscape crew is working apace to keep things weeded and planted and generally spruced up.

Our goal is to eventually have no “open” ground. We have quite a few open areas that are currently covered with nothing but mulch, and as great as the mulch is for the soil, it is also a perfect spot for weed growth. In order to reduce our weeding time, we are looking to plant groundcovers and other plants to reduce the surface area as much as possible.

So over the next few months, we hope to be adding beautiful groundcovers to the landscape to beautify and reduce the workload. Eventually, we would like to replace the open grass areas with gardens but that project is down the road a bit! We are always looking for donated plants.

In the meantime, we will be adding plants to the beds in front of the building to enhance our welcoming entrance. If you are interested in talking with me further or have questions or better yet, suggestions, please contact me ( Or even better, come volunteer with our landscape group on the first and third Saturdays of the month, 8-10 am.

New Series: Notes from the Garden with Kate

Hello, one and all! My name is Kate Jerome and, along with Venny Zachritz, I am taking an active role in managing the landscape of the UUA campus. I’m so excited to share with everyone our plans to turn our already beautiful landscape into a sustainably managed one.

We will be making a few changes, adding plants, and generally making the landscape into an educational resource for the congregation and the surrounding community. This landscape will become one in which there is even more beauty, that sustains pollinators and wildlife, and needs less and less input to keep it beautiful.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the basic principles of this type of landscape management as well as keeping you abreast of the changes and additions we and our wonderful landscape group will be making.
If you are interested in talking with me further or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me ( Or even better, come volunteer with our landscape group on the first and third Saturdays of the month, 9-11 am.

CoA plants Beautyberries





In gratitude for the incredibly generous and tireless effort of the facilitators and mentors, the families of the 2021-22 UUCA Coming of Age class planted three beautyberry bushes in the new pollinator garden at the front entrance of the church.

The three plants are arranged in a triangle with two dark-leaved Pearl Glam Beautyberry plants in the back and one greener-leaved American Beautyberry in the front. The Pearl Glams were intended to represent the mentors and facilitators, providing the backing and support for the Coming of Age youth, while the American Beautyberry in the front represents our youth stepping forward into the spotlight. All three plants contribute to the world as pollinators, and all three have beautiful white flowers that precede bright purple berries. The berries are both stunning and edible.

The bushes were planted by the youth at the end of their closing ceremony on May 22. Despite encountering much harder ground than anticipated (metaphor alert 😊), their hard work won out in the end. We look forward to watching them all flourish in the years ahead.

Family Fun with Games and Pizza!

UU Asheville Families got together on a Thursday evening for Pizza, Mindfulness, and Games! We had pizza, followed by a mindfulness game led by Amy Glenn, and then had a great time playing some fun family games!

UU Asheville Families also had a fabulous time at Sky Lanes on Sunday, March 13! There were 20 of us there to bowl, including a bunch of kiddos whose first time it was. All ages and different skill levels had a ton of fun and enjoyed the friendly competition. It is so nice to be together again, meeting new friends and old and seeing our kids bond with each other. Look out for Wes Miller, he’s there to win! Hope to see even more folks at our next event!

Loving the Grinch

YRUU’s worship service on March 6 was fantastic. Memorable.  Funny.  Inspiring.  If you missed it, dig up the Sunday link email from March 6 and watch it.  No spoilers here.

Decorating a Tree is Always Fun

That’s what participants in Sunday’s ornament-making, tree-decorating, and cookie-exchanging extravaganza  reported.  And the tree looks great!  Come see it in Sandburg Hall.

Christmas tree on display in our social hall.

Wow! Fifty People in the Sanctuary!

View of congregants in the 12/5 worship service, spread out

What 50 people looks like in the Sanctuary.

The Coming of Age class with their mentors.

Caroling around the new patio.






It’s not quite like the good ole days but it’s way closer than YouTube-watching.  Today was a great day with a “regular” worship service, a Coming of Age class meeting in Sandburg Hall, a lot of people sticking around for a bit of caroling, and then a trek down Charlotte Street to celebrate UU Asheville’s new BeLoved Street Pantry.

A link to register to attend the Sunday worship service starts showing up in the Monday Worship eNews and stays open until we get to 50.  There is a wait list because we’d like to see how much “demand” we have.  If you are a newcomer, sign up for our eNews announcements at the bottom of our home page.

Halloween Sunday Was Fun for All

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The dog refused to wear his grandma costume.

We had a worship service.  We had a remembrance ritual.  We had soup!  (Sold out, much to a late-comer’s chagrin–not naming any names.) We had Halloween costumes!  We had treats!  Could it have been any better?  See you next time!

Tabletop with printed cloh an photos of people to be remembered.

Joyful Noise – Third Thursdays! Returns on October 21, 5:30pm

Last month on the 3rd Thursday, a small group gathered on campus to listen to poetry and drum with our ministers and drum circle leader, Nanette Muzzy-Manhart. It was fun to be in community and on campus after almost two years of mostly Zoom gatherings. Weather permitting we will gather on 3rd Thursdays in October and November, too. Our October drum circle leader will be Will Jernigan. Join us!

Our In-person Animal Blessing Service Was Amazing!

About 60 people in person and 40 screens on Zoom witnessed our outdoor (thank goodness for great weather!) worship service.  A terrific Wisdom Story (Owen and Mzee), live music, real hymn-singing, and a lovely blessing ceremony were enjoyed by all!



Best Retirement Party EVER!

Over 200 congregants had a splendid afternoon bidding farewell to Rev. Mark Ward, our lead minister who retired after 17 years of service to UUCA.

Here’s Mark’s remarks to you, as well as the prayer he wrote for us:

Thank you, thank you to everyone who was in any way a part of the retirement party that you gave me on Saturday. It was such a beautiful event, so well put together, so generous, and flooded with good feelings. Thank you especially to Planning Committee members Cecil Bennett, Beverly Cutter, Judy Galloway, Ann McLellan and Phil Roudebush. It all was more than I could have hoped. Your words were so kind, your gifts were so generous. I am grateful to all those who came. You threw a great party. In my remarks on Saturday I closed with a prayer offered to the community. Here it is, with blessings on you all!


At the center of every gathered community

there is a common hope, a common joy

that is larger than any one person yet encompasses them all.

We experience it as warm heart that centers us,

a tough and tender presence

that directs us to our own seat of compassion

and challenges us to rise above our narrowness and fears,

that offers us a sense of the holy.

I speak to that warm heart today.


Dear heart,

There is a welcome energy in our gathering again

after so much time away.

It is reassuring to see familiar faces

and exciting to see new ones,

reminding us that as with all life we are evolving and growing.


We stand at a pivot point in this community,

the turning over of leadership,

like the turning over of soil in a garden

that both disrupts and opens up new possibility.

Confessing my own sadness at separating myself from you

so you may best take advantage of this moment,

I still cheer you on as you take on the challenges

of building and sustaining a vibrant liberal faith

that holds before it the vision of beloved community.


May you find in this moment the courage and hope

to make of this community not a haven but a crucible

where you might strengthen your spirits and widen your compassion,

where you might deepen your understanding

and feel the spur to the call of justice-making.


It is my prayer that the deep joy within you

will join the great hope among you

and inspire you to live into this community of memory and hope,

such that you might bless the world.


Rev. Mark Ward, July 10, 2021

As noted, the planning committee did an amazing job!!!! as we had two giant tents, 200 chairs, a stage, pulpit and microphone, and lots of food.  The weather was perfect.  The Sandburgers added their fabulous entertainment.  The selected speakers could not have been more eloquent.  They were Mary Alm, Kay Aler-Maida, John Bates, Owen Reidesel, Joe Hoffman (retired minister from First UCC in Asheville) and Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper.  Will Jernigan was a terrific MC.  Tears flowed, presents were given, hugs were shared.  It was a great day!
And a big thank you from Planning Committee member, Ann McLellan:
Labor of Love UUCA Caterers turn Green!Not green with envy, but green with money saved, and certainly green with earth-friendly choices.  Thanks are due to our UUCA “caterers” who provided refreshments Saturday at the Retirement Party for Rev. Mark Ward.  These accomplished foodies made or arranged for all the goodies including gluten free and vegan items.  They also facilitated clean up after the party by using all compostable plates, clear cups and forks made entirely of plant materials.
Thanks UUCA Caterers!  What a team!

Caterers                                Servers & Cleanup
Wilma Oman                         Jo Angelina
Judith Kaufman                     Carol Buffum
Sherry Wothke                      Susan Andrew
Myrtle Staples                       Olivia Steinke
Candy Hickman                    Audrey Kipp
Ann McLellan                       Judy Mattox
Judy Galloway                      Ken Brame
Reed Olszack

A May Day Celebration for ALL!

We had a great time at our May Day celebration on an absolutely beautiful day.  The Beltane ritual featured the arrival of the May Goddess and the Green Man with much “dancing” (seriously no skill required) and waving of scarves.  It was a happy multigenerational event with food, music, fun and great weather.  A puzzle swap also seemed to generate a lot of interest.  Here’s a photo of our Beltane guests.

Congregants depicting the May Goddess and Green Man for a Beltane ritual.