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Shrubbery. Miles and miles of shrubbery. And Christmas trees. Miles and miles and miles of Christmas trees. Everywhere you look in Pineola you'll see agribusinessmen at work.

North Carolina's oldest licensed nursery, then called Highlands Nursery, was established in Pineola in 1892 by Samuel T. Kelsey to grow native rhododendron and white pine for landscaping the new resort in Linville. E.C. Robbins worked in Kelsey's nursery from day one. He eventually bought the business in 1922 and changed the name to The Gardens of the Blue Ridge.

Edward P. Robbins joined his father in 1923, and together they shifted their energy to selling wildflowers in addition to shrubbery. They began publishing a catalogue and The Gardens of the Blue Ridge was soon shipping little pieces of Avery County all over the world.

These days Edward's grandson, Robyn Fletcher, has taken the family tradition in to cyberspace at GardensoftheBlueRidge.com, selling hundreds of varieties of commercially grown (not poached from the wild) wildflowers, shrubbery and ferns as well as Christmas wreaths, garland and holiday greenery.

In addition to mail-order wildflowers, Pineola growers wholesale cut flowers to florists, propagate greenhouse after greenhouse filled with bedding plants, and nurture field after field filled with Christmas trees.

So if at first glance you think that town of Pineola is nothing more than an intersection with a corner store and a post office, remember that Pineola is one jumping junction during Choose & Cut season!