Biltmore Estate Part Three: Gardens

In my two previous posts, we’ve seen the glittering Upstairs and dark, work hard/play hard Downstairs, now we finally come to the Biltmore Estate gardens and conservatories! Today's post is probably the best-looking in the history of the blog, so wipe down your reading spectacles and feast your eyes on the glory of ALL THE PLANTS!

Remember when I said that George Washington Vanderbilt spared no expense? Well, he got Frederick Law Olmsted to do all the landscape design for the house and gardens. Do you vaguely remember some little places called Central Park in New York, the U.S Capitol grounds, or Golden Gate Park in San Fransisco? HE DESIGNED THEM. With friends, of course. He was an early American conservationist and helped develop the first managed forest in the U.S. at Biltmore; Gifford Pinchot, one of the first American foresters, revamped the woods for Olmsted and went on to found the U.S. Forest Service. Apparently, people had really done a number on the forests around Biltmore before the Vanderbilts bought the land, so Olmsted and others convinced the family to manage the forest responsibly so they could profit from the lumber (and retain a nice, lush forest view). The Biltmore Forest School opened in 1913 to teach forestry and conservation techniques that are still in use today. The forest at Biltmore is over 4,500 acres, which I think is pretty impressive. If you're going to have a big house in the woods, make sure you are being nice to the woods!

Naturally, I went to visit this place in the dead of winter to make sure there were hardly any tourists, so most of the garden action outside was not action at all. So I peeped into the greenhouses and NEARLY DIED from the beauty of it all (and from wearing a parka and scarf in a 100% humidity, 80-degree glass box of death).

First, there was the Palm House, which immediately fogged up my camera lens but I think it made the whole experience more dramatic and I kind of felt like I was in a prehistoric jungle, except there wasn’t anything there that could eat me. JUST LOOK AT THIS PLACE:

Next came the Hot House and the Cool House, which were abolutely packed with more leafy greens, flowers, and cacti than you can possibly imagine. How do they keep track of all this?! It's astounding. So, now I am going to shut up and let you observe the beauty. BEHOLD!

Just jumping in to say JESUS that giant leaf is 100% some dinosaur plant and it is truly terrifying. Also, I want one in my house.

I'll end this unbelievable trip to Biltmore Estate with the house itself, seen from the staircase to the gardens. Hopefully another day I can come back in spring or summer when everything is blooming, but I'm so grateful that I was at least able to sneak around in the conservatories and get a much-needed dose of nature. I almost didn't go to Biltmore because I was being a snob, was tired from my road trip, and was reluctant to shell out $50 for a ticket. But it was definitely worth it! I really hope you guys have enjoyed the Biltmore series, and if you haven't seen my post on the house's Upstairs and Downstairs, now's your chance!

So what do you think of the conservatories? Over the top? Too steamy? DID I BORE YOU?? Let me know in the comments!

Post a Comment

Design by Fearne