Still Winter, But Spring’s Coming!

What’s your favorite part about springtime in Tennessee?

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It’s not quite March yet, but we in East Tennessee are starting to see the telltale signs of spring!

We know that one of the biggest reasons for people to relocate to our beautiful corner of the state is our four distinct seasons. Spring isn’t just a pass-through season here; it lasts long enough for us to really savor it.

Spring ain’t no wallflower in these parts. When she shows up, we know it! Spring around here blows in with vibrant flowers and moody weather, ecstatic frogs, singing bugs and happy people. We decided to celebrate the coming season by listing a few of our favorite East Tennessean signs of spring. Read on to hear what they are!

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Flowers Blooming

Buttery yellow daffodils are already springing open, and irises will come soon. Fall is famous for showing lovely red, yellow and orange leaves, but it’s not the only colorful season here! Spring in East Tennessee brings a riot of blooming color! You can visit this website to find out more about wildflowers in the Smokies, including rhododendron and trillium.

Gorgeous Sunrises

The days have steadily been getting longer since the winter solstice, and we’re finally getting to head off to work and school with the rosy glow of the sunrise! We know we’re about to have long, lovely days when we’re no longer bundling the kids into the family vehicle while it’s still dark.

Birds chirping, vibrant sunrise colors splashing across the sky … what a great way to start the day! No wonder spring puts people in a better mood!

Warmer Days (and nights!)

Some East Tennessee springs are chilly, it’s true. But so far we’re having 70-degree days and 50-degree nights, and that suits us fine! We know, we know, we’ve been around these parts long enough to remember that winter often comes roaring back in to give us at least one more solid freeze before the warm weather sets in for good. But that promise of spring feels soooo nice in a gentle, warm breeze in February!

Frogs Croaking

Frogs all over the place are coming out of hibernation and calling out to each other. Anyone who lives near a stream, pond or heck, even a puddle, gets the sweet, rhythmic serenade of springtime frogs.

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Late-Season Snowstorms!

We know that sometimes the sweet weather is too good to be true, and often the temperature soars up into the 70s, only to plunge back down within a day or two. It’s not at all unusual for at least one good snowstorm to blow through in March, dumping a few inches of wet snow on us. Luckily, all that snow is usually melted away within a couple of days.

Windy Weather

One thing all our springtimes in East Tennessee have in common: windy weather! Chilly or warm, snowy or sunny, the wind heralds the coming change of seasons. Make the most of it, and break out the kites!

If you want to see spring from the front porch of your new East Tennessee home, start at DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Winter House Shopping: Why?

Read our favorite reasons for buying a home in the winter!

We’ve posted before about the advantages of buying a home in the wintertime. It’s still a great idea, and we thought it was worth another look. Read on to find out some excellent reasons to go home shopping during the chilliest time of year!

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Yup, it’s cold. But the frosty weather is probably in your favor!

1. The seller is probably highly motivated.

Homes that stay (or show up) on the market in the winter are usually there because the owner really, really wants to sell. Reasons for this can range from someone relocating for work to getting married or divorced, or any other major life change you can think of! With this in mind, you (as the buyer) might have a couple of real advantages:

  • You may get a better deal.
  • Negotiations may be shorter.

Someone who just wants to sell and move will be far more willing to shave a little off the price, and won’t dither over small details in the contract. Just be careful that you get a thorough house inspection, and know for sure this is the house for you! You want to do some gentle probing of the seller’s agent to find out whether the seller’s motivation comes from a life change, or from something seriously wrong with the house. Don’t let your excitement for the house blind you!

2. There is less competition from other buyers.

There are good reasons winter is a less popular house-shopping season. It’s often cold and dreary, and many families have kids already settled into school. It’s much more comfortable to snuggle up at home and wait until the weather gets more cheerful to pound the house-shopping pavement. But this is great news for you! It means you’ll have a more leisurely shopping experience, and you’ll get more attention from realtors, who are possibly slowing down in the cold season. You’ll also have less competition in the form of other offers on your dream home.

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Just be sure to bundle up while you’re house hunting! A warm cup of coffee helps, too!

3. You get to see how well the house stands up to winter.

Poor insulation, leaky windows and roofs and inadequate heat pumps can make living in a house almost unbearable in the cold winter—not to mention extremely expensive. When you tour the home, you’ll be able to see how the heating keeps up, and check for leaks and drafts during the coldest part of the year.

Did you know you can contact the local utility company and ask for an average heating and electric bill for the house before you buy? That kind of information can be key in deciding whether to take the (polar) plunge on buying a home in the winter. Also, review our article about options for heating your home, and cost comparison on the different types, in East Tennessee.

4. You’ll love your house even more in the spring!

It’s true. If you find the perfect house when the weather is dreary and the back yard is barren, just imagine how delightful it will all be when the spring flowers bloom and the leaves fill out in the warmer months! And, since you’ll be all moved in already, you’ll have that much more time to work in the garden when spring is finally sprung.

Ready to layer up and get house shopping in East Tennessee? Start at DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Fall Gardening in Tennessee

There’s a lot to be done in your East Tennessee garden during the cold-weather months.

It’s certainly no secret that four of our most attractive reasons for folks transplanting to East Tennessee is our four, distinct, lovely seasons. Each one brings a unique beauty: the abundance and cheerfulness of spring, the lush, warm summers, the crisp, colorful autumns and the starkly beautiful winters with sparkling frost and occasional blanketing snows.

For those folks who love to experience nature from the soil of their own gardens, November is no time to stay inside.

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We’re in full-on fall now, and although you won’t see the bright, cheery blossoms and buds we usually associate with Tennessee gardens in about five more months or so, there’s a lot to be done in your garden during the cold-weather months. Read on to find out more!

Trim the Trees

We haven’t had our first hard frost yet, but take note when we do. After that is when you should get out the clippers and chain saw and get to pruning. The sap has retreated from the outer branches, so now is the healthiest time for your trees to get trimmed. This will help your lovely spring bloomers to be even more beautiful when warm weather swings back around.

Tip: Some tree-trimmers go a little nuts, pruning all the smaller branches way back. The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture calls this a no-no. Be gentle with how much you cut. A little bit stimulates the tree; too much traumatizes it.

Plant Bulbs

Willow Ridge, a Knoxville-based landscaping company, gives this information about spring-flowering bulbs:

Crocus, hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips are all bulbs that we plant in the fall in East Tennessee. They need the cool of winter in order to bloom and also need time to establish a healthy root system. Plant them when temperatures are below 65 degrees either in the ground or in containers.

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Edible Garden Maintenance

Now is the time to cover your tender strawberry plants with straw and cover your cool-weather garden with frost blankets—if you want to extend their growing time. This year, you may have a few more weeks until you really need to get after these tasks; it’s been fairly warm so far.

Basic Maintenance

Now is the time to trim back dead plants and cover beds with three inches of mulch. Don’t pile the mulch up on the bases of your trees and crowns of plants. They don’t really like it, and the mulch gives pests the perfect cover to nibble away at them.

Feathered Friends

We have an abundance of lovely birds here in East Tennessee! Brighten your dreary winter days with a colorful garden show: keep your bird feeders filled with seed all winter. Keep water in the bird baths, too; birds will continue to need it throughout the upcoming winter months. You can also put out some fruit slices for an extra treat.

For more details about maintaining your garden through the fall and winter, check out this article from Tennessee Home & Farm.

Looking for your new home in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. Happy Fall, Y’All!

First Day of Fall!

Read about some of our favorite Tennessee fall things!

Fall is an especially sweet time in Tennessee. It’s one of the top-ranking reasons for people to relocate here: they love the changing of the seasons, but want mild weather. Tennessee delivers the best of seasons with minimal extremes, like snow storms or 100-degree summer days! Read on to find out some of our fall favorites in East Tennessee:

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Apple Butter

This Tennessee favorite isn’t butter at all; it’s creamy, sweet, smooth apple all cooked up and made into a spreadable treat. You don’t cut out the cores to make apple butter; you cook all the parts of the apple together before processing out the parts that wouldn’t be good to eat. Natural pectin is inside the apple core, which helps apple butter to firm up. During the fall in East Tennessee, you can find big cauldrons of apple butter being stirred up by wooden paddles in fall festivals! And if you can’t get to a festival, local tractor supply stores and small businesses usually start carrying this seasonal favorite. You could always try making your own, too. Click here for a simple recipe.

Apple Cider

If your idea of apple cider is something you shake out of a little packet and mix with microwaved water, then you definitely don’t know what you’re missing! In the Smokies, apple harvests were preserved for generations with family recipes like apple butter, apple preserves and apple cider. These recipes were a way to make apples last through the cold months, when fresh, growing things were scarce. Traditional apple cider is made with several varieties of apples, which are crushed and pressed until juice (and some bits of fruit) comes out. The pectin in the fresh product is good for you (and can’t be found in powdered cider drinks!). Traditional cider is a little bit alcoholic; the fruit ferments. That was another way apple cider warmed the body during winter months.

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Gorgeous Leaves

People from all over the country make the pilgrimage to view our famous, eye-popping fall leaves every year. Depending on rain fall, seasonal temperatures and some unknown mystery-factor, leaves reach peak colors sometime in October (usually!) It’s the perfect time for a hike in the majestic Smoky Mountains, especially since the weather is refreshingly crisp.

Crisp Nights

Fall brings with it the nostalgic smell of wood smoke, both from bonfires and fireplaces, where families enjoy one of the most ancient creature comforts known to man: a cozy fire! Even if you prefer the convenience of turning up the thermostat on chilly nights, fall just feels cozier with a warm fire. This is that great, transitional time of year when your favorite sweater is just right; you don’t need to bundle up in a winter coat just yet, and the heat of the summer is fading away. Our fall days can be pleasantly warm, too, and even more pleasant with the summer humidity fading away!

 

If you’re looking for the perfect place to snuggle in and enjoy the fall weather, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com to search for listings in our neck of the woods!

 

Landscaping in East Tennessee

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our area brings many benefits.

Spring is here! Dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom and flowers are popping up everywhere. This is an especially exciting time to be a new homeowner in East Tennessee, because you never know what beautiful plants you’ve inherited with your property until they show their pretty faces in the warm growing season!

If you’re getting inspired by our lovely, warm weather to spruce up your landscaping, consider these ideas:

Go Native!

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our extremely biodiverse area brings many benefits. They are more likely to survive and thrive in our climate, since they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. They are also more likely to attract the pollinators. Helping pollinators like bees and butterflies with habitat and food helps us, too. Bees and butterflies not only ensure the beauty and propagation of our lovely flowers, they play a big part in growing crops that we need to eat. Check this list for ideas on native plants for your grand landscaping plan.

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Buy From a Nursery

Going native doesn’t mean digging up from the woods. DON’T take plants from public land, like a national park. It’s illegal! If you have access to ferns, trees and other plants you think you’ll be able to successfully transplant on your property, then go for it. But if you’d like a little more help and even a little guarantee, go to your local nursery. Family-owned operations are likely to have great advice on what to plant where, and when. Some places (like Lowes) have guarantees on their plants, which means if you save your receipts and your plant dies within a year, you can take it back and get a replacement.

Think Big, But Start Small

Frederick Law Olmsted, when he designed the landscaping for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, thought long-term. Like, really long term: he planted stands of trees that would take a hundred years to mature. He knew he’d never see his vision completely realized, but he understood the grandeur of his legacy. If you have an acre of land you’d like to landscape, you don’t necessarily need to think of how it will look to your great-grandchildren, but do pay attention to how things will look in the next few years.

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Ivy and other vines might grow out of control, swamping out other plants and slowly destroying your buildings if they are given free reign. Bamboo certainly goes rampant, requiring heavy mowing. And trees are high on the list of culprits behind unsafe foundations; the roots grow out as far as the canopy, undermining the safety of your home if they’re planted too close. Evergreens are a little safer; their root systems tend to head down instead of out. Even so, that sweet little sapling you plant this year might take off in our mild, plant-friendly climate and become a danger to your roof, sewer or foundation in as little as ten years!

Consider Goats

One of the pervasive problems in rural East Tennessee is the fast-growing, invasive vine: kudzu! The best way to get rid of it? Goats. They eat it right down to the roots.

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Interested in real estate in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. Happy gardening!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out.

This year is pretty warm for an East Tennessee Thanksgiving. Usually around this time we’re waking up to frosty mornings, laying by stockpiles of firewood for the cold winter ahead and snuggling down with a cup of hot cocoa, trying to enjoy the calm before the storm of cooking our turkey dinner feast.

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We’re trying not to let our warm weather dampen the holiday spirits, though. If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out. Here are a few:

Dollywood Lights

It’s not quite Bob Segar’s “Hollywood Nights,” but this time of year is illuminated to the max at our favorite regional theme park. Local artisans practice their crafts, musicians perform in the theatres and outside and everywhere you look you see vibrant Christmas decorations. It’s worth a visit if you’ve never been, and your out-of-town guests will appreciate the experience, too.

Visit Dollywood.com to get visiting hours and ticket prices.

Speaking of Lights

Take a trolley ride in Gatlinburg to see the decorations of the season! The balmy weather makes for comfortable strolling, too. Be sure to check out the artists’ guild and the huge cowboy boot store. If you’d like a little taste of Tennessee shine, there are moonshine tastings available to those of age on the famous strip.

Rolling on the River

Tnvacation.com has some fun activities to help you with your festive spirit, especially if you are allergic to cooking. They recommend the Thanksgiving cruise on Knoxville’s river boat, Star of Knoxville or the Southern Belle in Chattanooga. The cruises include food, entertainment and, of course, lovely Tennessee scenery.

Get Local

The Rose Center in Morristown has a great lineup of entertainment, arts and crafts events, and classes. It’s a good time to get started making this year’s Christmas gifts! Or, you can support local artists and give pottery, paintings or other unique gifts this year.

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#Opt Out!

REI is among the growing number of retailers who shun the anxiety and general bad sportsmanship of Black Friday, instead encouraging folks to enjoy the natural beauty of our mountain home. Go for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or walk your dog at the local park. Ride your bike, sit outside with your relatives on the porch swing, play corn hole in the back yard. Take a minute to breathe and enjoy this holiday before plunging into the gift-buying frenzy of Christmas!

 

 

Winter in East Tennessee

Be prepared this winter, but, mostly, enjoy it.

This post is for our  most recent transplants, who might not know what to expect for their first winter in lovely, temperate East Tennessee. For those who can claim to be “from around here,” feel free to add your own two cents about how to survive this upcoming cold season.

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First Things First

Winter in East Tennessee is a slightly different animal if you’re new to the state…an animal that sometimes basks in warm, golden sunshine while the bare trees and short days are the only real proof you have that you’re truly in winter. Sometimes it’s so bitterly cold and blustery that this temperate region shuts down for days while residents scramble to deploy salt trucks and buy all the milk and bread in a twelve-mile radius.

Add some eggs and nutmeg and you’ve got all the emergency-weather French toast a person could ask for.

So, aside from stocking up on perishables, how should you really prepare for winter in Tennessee?

Multiple Heat Sources

Stock up on firewood or propane–whatever fuel your fireplace or other heat source needs. In a mild winter this will serve as a pleasant way to ward off the chill in the mornings. In one of our hunker-down, polar-winds-a-blowing seasons, you’ll need those sources to help out your straining central heat source. Occasionally, the power will go out. Around here we have lots of trees and occasional ice or snow storms, a combination which will bring down heavy branches over power lines. The power companies are quick to fix the problem, but for a day or two you should be prepared to lose electric heat sources.

Pipes, Plants and Pets

The generally mild winter can make us complacent about bringing in plants and pets and protecting our exposed water pipes. Down south it doesn’t matter as much, and further north there is a seasonal ritual for protecting all these tender things from a hard freeze, but here it can sneak up on you. So pay attention to the frost advisories on the weather, and go ahead and cover up sensitive plants when fall temperatures dip into the 30s and insulate pipes and faucets. And make sure your outdoor pets have somewhere warm to go.

Lurking Ice

In some ways, our biggest enemy is ice. We don’t (usually) get much snow, but as it melts in the warm sun a slick layer of ice builds up, sometimes completely unseen under the inch or two of white. Invest in a bit of sidewalk salt so you don’t find yourself nursing a bruised ego and tailbone, and drive a little more cautiously.

Layer Up

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Layering is about to become your fashion statement of choice. Especially if your kids wait out at the school bus stop each morning, you’ll want them to have a t-shirt, sweater and jacket. Chances are all three will be needed and then peeled at some point during the day. Temperatures can start out in the teens and soar into upper forties–even fifties or higher–in the fall and winter around here.

Emergency Car Kits

Keep a stash of water, dried food like granola bars, walking shoes, an old jacket and a blanket in your car along with your auto emergency kit. If you break down or slide off the road on a patch of ice you might need to shuck your work shoes, slip on those walking shoes and get walking, or even wait a while with the vehicle. We’re not as isolated as the wilderness out West, but we do have some sparsely populated, rural areas where cell phone service is patchy and not many vehicles pass by. Our beautiful mountains make for lovely scenery but treacherous back roads, so please drive cautiously and plan for unfortunate possibilities.

Enjoy

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Be prepared this winter, but, mostly, enjoy it. This is one of our lovely, distinct seasons that bring people to our area from all over the country. The milder weather makes winter hiking delightful, and the trees graciously drop leaves so you can see for miles and miles (as the song says.) Frost sparkles in the morning, and winter sunrises and sunsets are nothing short of inspiring. And, just when you are so sick of being cold…it starts to warm up, and spring is just around the corner.

Looking to move here? Check out Darlenereeves-kline.com.