November 3, 2008

Fainting Goats and Flowers at Fearrington

By Freda Cameron  

If you ask me what to do in North Carolina, I'll tell you that there's always another garden to visit!

Between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro there is a village that was created in the early 1970s by RB and Jenny Fitch. Fearrington Village was built on the 1500 acre site of an historic farm. The Fitch family converted the home into the Fearrington House Inn & Restaurant. The barn and outbuildings were converted into shops, conference and wedding facilities and smaller restaurants. A community of homes was built around the village, but you still feel like you're visiting a farm as fenced pastures line the country lane leading to the village.

The symbol of Fearrington Village is the Belted Galloway Cow. The cows are a rare breed of Scottish cows. RB Fitch started the herd with five cows in the 1980s and there are now about thirty in the herd. These cows are strictly pets according to all of the Fearrington restaurants. The cows have cute, fluffy tufts on the ears. Three donkeys reside in the pastures to protect the cows from predators. I think the predators must be roving dogs as I've never seen a "beware of donkeys" sign anywhere!

In the last few years, Fearrington has added Tennessee Fainting Goats to color coordinate with the white-belted Galloways. When startled, the muscles on these goats stiffen and they fall over. I enjoyed petting the sweet little goats, and I hope that visitors never test the fainting theory.

There are gardens all over Fearrington Village:
  • Jenny's fragrant white garden
  • Perennial border garden
  • Herb garden
  • Inn's English courtyard and knot garden
  • Wildflower garden
  • Southern garden at the Old Granary Restaurant & Bar
My favorite is the fragrant white garden. I've been visiting there for years, and I never get tired of walking in the shade of the three long arms that make the U-shaped arbor. At the two corners, there are built-in benches that certainly feel Southern and romantic. In the center of the configuration is a shallow pool with a modern sculptured fountain that echos the white-belt of the Galloways. The plantings are soft in silver and green foliage and white-blooming flowers. I was there on October 31st and the fall garden was still quite beautiful.

The perennial borders were still full of colorful blooms for the fall. Since I was there on Halloween, there was a display of elaborately carved pumpkins among the gardens. Gaillardia, mums and camellias were among the blooming plants. Shrubs, ornamental grasses and groundcovers are abundant while white-painted fences, arbors, and other features give you the feeling of walking among a village of cottage gardens.

On a sunny day in any season, a visit to Fearrington to see the gardens and the animals is worth the trip. While you're there, you might as well have brunch or lunch at the Granary, browse the shops and check to see if there are any author events at the bookstore.



Photos by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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