As the Breeze continues to highlight community leaders who make a positive difference in the greater Lake Lure area, Flowering Bridge chairperson, Kathy Tanner, whose family has deep roots in Rutherford County, tells her story.
What is your family connection to Lake Lure?
My husband, Kenneth grew up in Rutherfordton and on Lake Lure. His father, Dr. Kenneth Tanner, was a surgeon at Rutherford Hospital. He grew up spending much time coming to their family home on the lake. We came over the years for vacations and bought our first cabin here in 2010. After our girls were out of college, we moved here permanently in 2015. I love it and Kenneth is so happy to be ‘back home’.
Have you always been a gardener? Other hobbies?
I truly attribute my early love and fascination with Kenneth’s mom, Catchy. She was an incredible gardener and cook and I spent many hours with her in her garden “learning at her feet”. We lived in Charlotte for 30 years and I began to volunteer and learn at a unique garden there, Winghaven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary. The addiction began and has never stopped. My other hobbies over the years have been: tennis, horse back riding, camping, and traveling. I am a teacher by profession, so I loved being involved as our girls grew up helping at their school, leading their girl scout troop, and helping with their riding organization, United States Pony Club.
How did the idea of a flowering bridge in Lake Lure come about?
When the new bridge between Chimney Rock and Lake Lure opened in 2010, the historic bridge over the Rocky Broad was going to be demolished. Bill Miller, a resident here for 15 years, had grown up new The Bridge of Flowers in Massachusetts. As a member of the Parks and Recreation Board in Lake Lure, he created the idea and with town and community support rescued the bridge. A group of interested community members (and I was a part of that group) began creating the organization, became a 501C3, created a Board of Directors. A very devoted group of 20 gardeners plant, maintain, and plan for the future of the gardens. We work Tuesdays and Thursdays in the gardens.
How popular has the Flowering Bridge become?
The Flowering Bridge has become a destination that visitors travel to see and be a part of. We now estimate 60,000 a year from all over the world. From grand parents to young children, there is something at the bridge for everyone. We are constantly changing things in the garden, from planted hats and chairs to Tip Toe Through The Tulips with shoes of all kinds, to painted doors. We are creative but we also garden like crazy. We have about 2000 different plants over an acre of garden space.
What does the Flowering Bridge future look like?
The future is very bright indeed. We are almost finished with our west end development. We have created over the past few years adorable cottage gardens around our potting shed (which is our home away from home), A Secret Garden, Sun and Shade Country Gardens, and Arbor and Atrium Gardens. The creativity and knowledge of the gardeners who tend her will lead us into a new life. We are in the process now of raising money for our last part of this project, an informational Kiosk, which will educate visitors on Rutherford County, Hickory Nut Gorge, and the Flowering Bridge.
What do you like most about living in Lake Lure?
Living in Lake Lure: it’s really hard to say what is the best, but I do think it’s the people. It’s a very active life style here that we love, a very interesting mix of friends from all over the country who have fallen in love within cherish Lake Lure like we do.
A final word, please.
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is a ‘Lucky Lady” to be the recipient of the talents, love, and dedication of the community, the towns of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, the members of the Board of Directors, all of her financial supporters, and the volunteers that care for her.
Thank you, Kathy, for your time and for your generous efforts supporting our community.