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Chauncey Beadle: Biltmore’s Azalea Hunter

Posted on 04/26/2017 by Amy Dangelico

A favorite pastime of Biltmore Blooms is the Azalea Garden—one of the largest selections of native azaleas in the country. The 15-acre garden is home to more than 20,000 plants, offering thousands upon thousands of vivid blooms of white, yellow, orange, and every shade of pink imaginable.

Azalea Garden in bloomThis parade of color is a testament to the passions of Chauncey Beadle, an avid azalea collector and horticulturist hired at Biltmore in 1890 who later became the estate superintendent.

“Beadle loved all plants, but he had a special fondness for native deciduous azaleas,” says Bill Alexander, Landscape & Forest Historian.

The Azalea Hunters

Beginning in 1930, Beadle, along with fellow botanists and friends Frank Crayton and William Knight—aptly called “The Azalea Hunters”—spent countless hours over long weekends and holidays driving through each southeastern state searching for every species, natural hybrid, form, and color of azalea.

Azalea in BloomsBeadle maintained his massive personal collection at his farm on the east side of Asheville until 1940, but he knew that he needed to find a home for his azaleas, fondly referred to as his “children,” before he became too old to care for them.

Azaleas in bloomHe could think of no better home than the Glen in the valley below the Conservatory and gardens. Edith Vanderbilt Gerry and Judge Junius G. Adams, Biltmore Company president at the time, agreed.

A Tribute to Beadle

In honor of his then fifty years of service to Biltmore, the estate held a celebration for Chauncey Beadle on April 1, 1940, in the Glen, which from that day forward would be named the Azalea Garden. All estate employees and their spouses were invited to the event.

Edith Vanderbilt Gerry and Chauncey Beadle 1940During the ceremony, Edith unveiled a marker that memorializes Beadle’s lifetime of faithful service and gift of his azaleas to Biltmore.

Join us in celebrating the generosity and genius of Chauncey Beadle with a springtime stroll through the Azalea Garden.

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