>It was such a beautiful day yesterday that I decided to play hooky from the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, and drove over to the Biltmore Estate to see the gardens. While I have seen the house many times, I have never had a chance to spend much time experiencing any of the other attractions which the Biltmore offers.
Entering the gardens, one of the first thing I noticed was the way the house was framed by the beautiful trees and shrubs. It was interesting to see the house from some different angles instead of the usual approach. The gardens were originally designed by Frederick Olmsted who also designed New York’s Central and Prospect Parks. He is often called the “Father of American Landscape Architecture” and I could see the similarities between the Biltmore Gardens and his other creations.
Olmsted never finished his work at the Biltmore but the army of gardeners who care for the grounds keep true to his vision as much as possible. A special exhibit this September was the “Flower Carpet”. The flower carpet was a late 19th Century fancy in which flowers were laid out in such a way as to create an Oriental “carpet” in the garden. Some of you may have seen reports of the enormous flower carpet created in Brussels. While the carpet at the Biltmore was not was lavish as that of the Belgians, the setting was at least as spectacular. Some of our guests were fortunate enough to attend a “Flower Carpet” evening in which the grounds were illuminated, live music was played and champagne was on offer!
Unfortunately the flower carpet is finished for this year but the Biltmore will be running other special events in the gardens throughout the year so it is worth checking their website to see what’s going on. (Or you can call us and we will be happy to help you out).
After touring the upper terrace and enjoying the views both of the flower carpet and of the mountains in the distance, I went down to look at the greenhouses. In a burst of whimsy (and more than a touch of marketing) the Biltmore has created a number of fountains and other garden features made out of wine bottles (Biltmore wine bottles to be sure). I have to admit that some of them were rather clever!
Leaving behind the orchids and tropical plants (and relative coolness and and shade) of the greenhouse, I followed a rambling path down a rather steep hill to the “Bass Pond”. Olmsted created the pond and used an ingenious flume system to keep the waters clear and fresh. Many of the visitors to the Biltmore never make it this far away from the house and it was pleasantly quiet and private as I watched the ducks on the water and enjoyed the meadows.
It is a bit of a hike down there and back so don’t try it if you aren’t wearing good walking shoes.
But for that matter, you shouldn’t try ANY part of the Biltmore if you aren’t wearing good walking shoes. Vanderbilt rode a horse around the grounds after all. I don’t know what he did in the house, maybe his servants carried him!,Without a horse or servants, however, I was pretty hot and tired as I summited the hill on the way back when a little honeysuckle vine arbor with a pretty wrought iron bench came into view.
I was so excited when a hummingbird came right up to this feeder above my head but of course he flew off as soon as I reached for my camera. I did sit there for about 10 minutes more hoping he would come back but you will just have to take my word for it.
Driving home through the grounds I passed a number of people on bikes and I am thinking that for our next excursion James and I will have to try out the bike rental. Watch this space to see how that turns out.