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November 25, 2023

Pollinator Gardens Creating a Buzz!

What Buckhorn Inn Is Doing to Protect Pollinators and Their Habitat

By Sharon Mellor

Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators play a key role in moving pollen between flowers.  Scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of our food has been created through the help of pollinators. Imagine a world without our favorite fruits, vegetables, coffee, nuts, and

Unfortunately, pollinators are facing many threats. As native plants are being replaced by nonnative
gardens, roads, lawns, and buildings, pollinators lose the food and nesting sites that are necessary for their survival. For migratory pollinators, long distances between prairies and meadows means that many will die during their journey.

While careful use of pesticides and herbicides can reduce invasive non-native species, improper use can harm wildlife, including pollinators. And finally, climate change can cause some species to starve. As temperatures warm, flowers are blooming earlier. If the blooms die before the insects who feed on those  blooms arrive, many pollinators will die.

Buckhorn Inn is doing its part to protect pollinators and their habitat.

One of our new projects this fall has been to plant milkweed in several patches. Milkweed is essential for the survival of monarch butterflies. The butterflies only lay eggs on milkweed plants and the hatched caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed. We planted common and showy milkweed and butterfly weed this fall so that the cold temperatures and moisture will encourage spring germination. The milkweeds will grow from 2 to 5 feet tall. the star-shaped flowers will attract many pollinators with their yellow, green, purple, pink, and orange flowers. We expect to see native bees, honey bees, hummingbirds, and many types of butterflies. In the fall, the large seed pods will split open and efficiently self-sow.

We also have been experimenting to find a “low mow” schedule that works well for us. By allowing our grass to grow a bit longer and letting weed flowers like dandelions bloom, our
lawns will provide nectar and pollen to help pollinators thrive.

Hand-in-hand with these efforts, we are examining our use of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. In particular, widely-used neonicotinoids are absorbed by plants and can be present in pollen and nectar, making them highly toxic to bees. We will never use common brands like Sevin, Orthene, and Raid in an area where bees might feed. When we find we do need to use pesticides, we will follow recommended practice and spray them carefully on still days very early or late in the day to give them time to dry before the bees come to feed. 

We also expanded our plots of native wildflowers over the summer. Our wildflower plots include black-eyed susan, blood root, beebalm, fire pink, iron weed, joe pye weed, cone flower, thistle, wild geranium, and other wildflowers native to eastern Tennessee. Our honeybee hives love them! Mariupol’s hive did produce some honey this year. Unfortunately, we had some rainy days during the prime nectar flow, so the workers hung around inside instead of foraging.  We harvested about seven partial frames which resulted in about a gallon of amber goodness. We did not harvest any honey from Milan’s hive this year, but the bees appear strong going into the winter. We are planning to insulate the hives and provide them winter feed consisting of sugar and pollen patties. 

Please visit us next summer and check out our bee-utiful gardens!

August 29, 2023

Listen Like the Locals! Live Music Abounds

Guests often ask me for recommendations on what the locals do for fun in Gatlinburg.  One of the things that Jack and I enjoy is listening to live music.   Some of the large venues downtown, like Ole Red and Jason Aldean’s, have live country music.  But we, and many locals, prefer the wide range of performers at local haunts like Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery and Split Rail Eats.  Let me introduce to three of our favorites.

Mark Meyer

If you attended the Buckhorn Inn’s Riverboat-themed New Years Eve party a few years ago, that was Mark at the piano entertaining us with ragtime and jazz.  Mark studied music at Maryville College and the University of Tennessee.  He plays classic rock, country classics, and original tunes in jazz fusion, rock and other styles.  I especially love Mark’s repertoire of turn of the century ragtime—Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, Joseph Lamb, and others.  His jazz catalog includes standards by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and more!

Split Rail is a great place to eat a yummy tater bowl, have a drink, and listen to live music.

Live music at Split Rail on September 8 will feature Mark and Friends!

Mark has been invited to do ragtime and jazz presentations for the Knoxville Jazz Society and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra League.  

He sometimes appears with Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Taylor Brooks, sometimes as part of the Brews Brothers, and sometimes with Kirk Fleta (see below).  

Kirk Fleta

Kirk is a singer, songwriter and guitarist.  We were drawn to him because of his catalog of James Taylor and Neil Young.  But we stayed because of his original songs, like “Bare Bones.”  He sings with palpable passion — and endears himself to the crowd with his boyish charm.  He plays “energetic acoustic rock with delta slide and flamenco overtones” according to his artist biography.  Whatever—we like it!  He comes by his musical talents honestly.  We recently learned his grandfather was a world-famous Spanish tenor and his mother toured the world with her pop music.

Neesee Hurst

If you have read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, you are familiar with the pianist Emma Kelly, the “Lady of 6,000 Songs”.  Well, if Ms. Kelly knows 6,000 songs, Neesee Hurst knows at least 24,000!   And she plays by ear!

Originally from South Carolina, Neesee is beloved by the local community.  Not only for her wide selection of music, but for her warm and lovely spirit.  She plays from 3:00 pm on Wednesday through Sunday at Three Jimmy’s.  In the mood for Petula Clark?  Steely Dan?  Johnny Cash? Crash Test Dummies?  Guns and Roses?Neesee plays it all and loves to take requests.  If you are in the mood for a giggle, ask her to play “You Can’t Hide Those Thunder Thighs.”

We hope to see you enjoying local music with us!

June 19, 2023

Buckhorn Inn Uses AI for this Post

As the proud holder of a degree in journalism, I have been particularly interested in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to compose articles, essays, poems, etc.  So, I used Bing’s creative writing AI as an experiment.  I asked it to write a 300-word blog post promoting a stay at the Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  The following copy is presented exactly as it was generated.

AI Blog Post

# Why You Should Stay at the Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg Tennessee

If you are looking for a cozy and charming place to stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you should consider the Buckhorn Inn. This bed and breakfast has been a favorite destination for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains since 1938. Here are some reasons why you should book your next getaway at the Buckhorn Inn.

## Stunning Views

The Buckhorn Inn offers the grandest Smoky Mountain views of any Gatlinburg bed and breakfast. You can enjoy the ever-changing scenery of the mountains and meadows from your private balcony, patio, or window. The inn is situated less than a mile from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so you can easily access the hiking trails, wildlife, and natural wonders of the area.

## Elegant Rooms

The Buckhorn Inn has a range of accommodations to suit your preferences and budget. You can choose from traditional inn rooms, private cottages, or full guesthouses. All of them are elegantly furnished and decorated with period charm and modern amenities. You can expect to find comfortable beds, air conditioning, flat-screen TVs, kitchenettes, and complimentary toiletries in your room. Some rooms also feature fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, or jacuzzis for extra relaxation.

## Delicious Food

One of the highlights of staying at the Buckhorn Inn is the delicious food. The inn serves a complimentary breakfast every morning, featuring fresh fruit, homemade pastries, eggs, bacon, and more. You can also enjoy a four-course dinner every evening, prepared by the inn’s chef using local ingredients. The menu changes daily and offers a variety of dishes, such as roasted duck, grilled salmon, beef tenderloin, and vegetarian options. You can dine in the elegant dining room or on the terrace overlooking the mountains.

## Friendly Service

The Buckhorn Inn is known for its friendly and attentive service. The innkeepers and staff are always ready to help you with anything you need, from booking tours and activities to providing recommendations and tips. They will make you feel welcome and pampered during your stay. The inn also has a library, a meeting room, a gift shop, and free Wi-Fi for your convenience.

The Buckhorn Inn is more than just a place to sleep. It is a place to experience the beauty, history, and hospitality of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. Book your stay today and see for yourself why the Buckhorn Inn is one of the best bed and breakfasts in Tennessee.


So, what do you think?  I noted a few things I would not have written:  we don’t regularly serve roasted duck, we do not offer dining on the terrace, and jacuzzis are brand-name whirlpool tubs.  But by and large, I think this is a serviceable blog post.  I did note that it did not score well on readability.  The article contained more passive voice than recommended and we considered difficult to read.  I intend to continue writing the blogs personally, but perhaps AI could be a good tool for research, or for brainstorming blog ideas.

June 12, 2023

Summer Wildflowers in the GSMNP

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) has more kinds of flowering plants than any other North American National Park.  In fact, the GSMNP boasts more than 1,500 varieties of flowers!  

Perhaps the most well-known are the spring ephemerals—so called because they appear in late winter, flower, fruit, and die back within two months.  They emerge beginning in February and are usually gone by the end of June.  Spring wildflower walkers can see lady slippers, fire pinks, columbine, bleeding heart,  jack-in-the-pulpit, little brown jugs, violets and many others.

Summer Wildflowers Are Magnificent

But that doesn’t mean that spring is the only season to view wildflowers.  The display continues with cardinal flowers, pink turtleheads, Turk’s cap lily, small purple-fringed orchids, bee-balm, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan’s, and jewel weed, among others.

Black-eyed susans are among the most easily recognizable summer wildflowers.

Black-eyed susans bloom during the summer months. Photo by Julie Blake Edison.

Rosebay rhododendron blooms during July in the mid elevations.  In the summer sourwood trees produce their small, bell-shaped white blossoms.  Sourwood honey is prized for its light amber color and flavor of anise and spice.  This tree is only grows in the Eastern mountains.  To connoisseurs, it has a richer and more concentrated flavor than the more common clover or wildflower honey.  Some local eastern Tennessee businesses have sourwood honey for sale.  http://Applebarncidermill.com

Summer wildflower seekers can find beautiful blooms later in the season, well into fall.  Look for goldenrod, sunflowers, iron weed, mountain gentian, monk’s hood, coneflowers, and asters.  Purple Joe-Pye-weed can reach heights of ten feet!  From October through January you can find the yellow blooms of witch-hazel.  The late summer/early fall weather is nice for hiking, and the trails are less crowded after the children have returned to school.

We look forward to seeing you this summer!  And don’t forget that we offer hearty and delicious packed lunches for $12 to fuel you on your wildflower tramp.

February 12, 2023

Some Easy Hikes in the National Park

Gatlinburg Trail

This relatively 1.9 mile, flat hiking trail starts at the Sugarlands Visitors Center. It  runs through forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. There are beautiful views of the river and  the foundations and chimneys of several old homesites. Keep in mind that the Gatlinburg Trail is the only one which allows dogs.

Porters Creek Trail

Located in Greenbrier Cove, Porter’s Creek is an easy and-and-out hike from Buckhorn Inn  You can experience some of the natural communities in the cove hardwood forest. This hiking trail also contains the remnants of settlers who lived in the area before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established. There was once a community of about 500 people in Porters Flat and Greenbrier Cove, so keep your eyes peeled for evidence of old homesteads, stone fences, stairs and the Ownby cemetery.  This trail is particularly beautiful in the Spring Wildflower Season beginning in late March through early May.

Cataract Falls Trail

If you love waterfalls, enjoy an easy hike along the Cataract Falls Trail.  It is only 3/4 miles roundtrip, making it a perfect destination for families with kids and other family members who have trouble walking long distances! The trail starts off paved but quickly turns to gravel as it travels over Fighting Creek on several well maintained bridges and through a stunning canopy of trees. While the highlight of the Cataract Falls Trail is naturally the 25 foot waterfall, you will also find a unique photo opportunity in an old hollowed out tree!

Grotto Falls Trail

When you want to combine one of the easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains with one of the most enchanting hikes, be sure to check out the Grotto Falls Trail.  While this is an easy hike, note that you should allow up to 3 hours to complete the roundtrip trail that is 2.6 miles in length. Walk through an overgrown forest before experiencing the gorgeous sight of Grotto Falls.  This is one of the only waterfalls that you can actually walk behind, offering one of the most amazing views and photo opportunities in the national park.


February 10, 2023

All About our Chickens

We recently had a surprise cold snap.  Of course Jack was out of town, so keeping the chickens healthy and happy was my  responsibility!

The first frigid morning, the sliding door to their coop was frozen shut. Eddie
kindly came to our rescue and opened the door and broke the ice on the chickens’ drinking
water. However they remained huddled in their little coop, not braving the cold even for a drink
of water. So of course, I served them their breakfast food and beverage “in bed”!  The chickens have come to expect pampering, I guess.

Eddie, with assistance from Jonathan, built a fenced in play yard for their free-range time. They free-range in the late afternoon as the conventional local wisdom is that day predators will be sated by then and night predators will not have started hunting yet.  We found a place in Cosby, TN, with metal art, so promptly brought home pieces of yard art to decorate their space.

The chickens eat a well-balanced organic layer feed. Their daily treat is a mix of protein flakes, dried mango, dried peas, and pumpkin seeds. It looks pretty tasty! I also grow them a variety of sprouts—clover, alfalfa, mung bean, barley, and rye. If I don’t sprinkle out the sprouts fast enough, Benedict leaps up to take them from my hand.

Benedict is not our only athletic chicken. I thought Hazel would be too plump to fly,
but I was wrong. We had a guest arrive in a helicopter this summer and the chickens got quite
excited. When I came that evening to feed them, Hazel surprised me from behind, leapt onto
my shoulder, and proceeded to beat me about the head with her wings. The harder I tried to
brush her off, the more she dug her feet into my shoulder. When I finally pried her off, she looked at me as though she were saying “You need to take better care of us!”

Hmmm, so far two of our chickens can do tricks. If I get Poached, Scrambled, Quiche, and Omelet to follow suit, we could have a vaudeville act! 

We have learned that happy chickens reward us with lovely eggs! They c0me in dark chocolate brown, brown spotted, blue, green, and pink. They have brilliant orange yolks and are
delicious. I hope you will have a chance to try some when you are here.

September 29, 2022

Buckhorn Hosts Wine Tasting Event in October

Join Innkeeper and Wine Afficianado Sharon Mellor for a wine tasting experience on select Wednesday afternoons in October.

from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

Wednesday, October 5, Wednesday, October 12, Wednesday, October 26

Sharon will share tasting tips from her WSET certification program for two Chardonnays and two Cabernet Sauvignons. Chef Karen Valentine will provide four types of delicious gourmet appetizers and artisinal cheeses paired with each wine.

For casual and experienced wine fans, this event is perfect for expanding your palate and making new friends. The tasting will be held on the veranda of Buckhorn House so guests can enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains. Buckhorn House is a pleasant five minute walk from the Inn; however, ample parking is available.  The inclement weather location will be the Buckhorn Inn Sitting Room.

Reservations are required and space is limited to 12 guests with a minimum of 6 guests required. The cost is $65 per person. To reserve, email us or telephone 865 436 4668.  Reservations must be received 24 hours in advance and there is a 24 hour cancellation required.

September 6, 2022

Park It Forward

Parking Fees in GSMNP in 2023

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) has announced its new Park It Forward
Program. The program includes the implementation of parking fees to support Park
operations. Nearly 4,000 Park visitors responded when asked for feedback on the proposed
plan. More than 85% of the comments received were in support of the plan and provided
ideas directed at making it as effective and practical as possible.


Park Superintendent Cassius Cash shares the weight he carries: “The duty to ensure this park
is protected, to ensure our employees have the tools to do their jobs, and to ensure the visitors
of tomorrow have this sacred place to explore. With Park It Forward, we will accomplish these
important goals.”


Here are the basics of the program, which will be effective on March 1, 2023:
1. Vehicle parking tags will be required for any vehicles parking in the park.
2. Display of physical parking tags in each vehicle will be required.
3. Three tags will be available: Daily—$5, Up to 7 days—$15, Annual—$40.
4. Parking tags will not be refundable, transferable, or upgradable.
5. Each tag will be valid for a single vehicle.
6. Parking tags will be available for purchase both online and onsite.
7. Tags will NOT be required for motorists who pass through the area or who park for less
than 15 minutes.
8. Parking tags will not be location-specific. A parking tag will be required to park in any
designated parking spot within park boundaries.
Watch this newsletter for any updates to the implementation of this new program.

February 5, 2022

Scents and Sensibility

Scents have a stronger link to memory and emotion than information garnered by our other senses.  The scientific explanation is that when you hear, touch, taste, or see something, the information heads to your thalamus, your brain’s relay station. Then that information is sent to
other areas of the brain. But when you smell something, the information bypasses the
thalamus and goes directly to the olfactory bulb. This may explain why a particular scent can
trigger a detailed memory or an intense emotion.

We learned this in working with an artisan to create a unique aroma for Buckhorn Inn—the
Scent of Serenity. We began by identifying all the aromas that you have told us you associate with a vacation here: robust coffee, fresh herbs on the veranda, clean sheets, morning rain,
roses, fresh-baked bread, antique wood, pine, warm maple syrup, books, wood smoke, and
others. We described a stay here in the words you have given us: relaxing, serene, cozy, quiet.
Our scent expert used this information to develop six unique scents.

Lee and Sharon each spent a week trying out the scents and both fell in love with the same one. We have dubbed it Scent of Serenity.   

The Scent of Serenity is subtle, warm and cozy, and has hints of smoke, spice, antique wood,
and greenery. We are using diffusers with the Scent of Serenity in the entry way, library, sitting
room, office, and the premier suites.

If you would like to take an air of serenity home with you, diffusers of this custom scent and
reeds are available in our gift shop for $27. It is our hope that when you catch a subtle hint of
the Scent of Serenity, it will trigger happy memories of your stays with us.


January 25, 2021

To-may-to or To-mah-to: Thinking Tomatoes for the Garden

Tomatoes come in so many varieties.

Tomatoes are delicious and have wonderful health benefits.

It may be January, but the garden catalogs are full of photos of ripe, lush, delicious tomatoes!  We are deciding which varieties to grow in the Buckhorn Inn gardens this summer.  Looking at all the types of tomatoes got us wondering about this garden staple.

Tomatoes are actually the berries of the plant Solanum lycopersicum.  Food historians believe that the species originated in South and Central America.  Tomatoes were first cultivated for food by the Aztecs of Mexico.  The Spanish encountered the tomato  when they conquered the Aztec Empire.  They brought the tomato back to Europe.  The popularity of the fruit spread to European colonies worldwide in the 16th century.

The tomato is very versatile and can be used raw in salads or cooked for sauces and soups.  Tomato juice is a popular beverage.  Even green tomatoes are delicious breaded and fried.  They are also used in salsa and gazpacho.  I recently learned that tomatoes are best kept unwashed at room temperature.  In the refrigerator they quickly lose their flavor.

Tomatoes Are Health Powerhouses

A tomato is only 22 calories, but is full of nutrients with a variety of health benefits.  One tomato provides about 40% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.  It also supplies vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.  Their red color comes from the antioxidant lycopene which is tied to heart benefits and may support vision.  And finally the liquid and fiber in the tomato may boost digestive health.  http://www.health.com

New Jersey selected the tomato as their state vegetable.  Arkansas was more determined to be botanically correct and named the South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato both its state fruit and its state vegetable!  Tomato juice became the official drink of Ohio in 1965.  

Be sure to watch this space for the final decisions on what we will be planting for the Buckhorn Inn kitchen!