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Our favorite outdoor rooms

Posted on 04/01/2016 by Jean Sexton Comments(2)

Biltmore’s Landscape Designer Frederick Law Olmsted had definitive ideas about landscape design—you can see many of them in New York City’s Central Park and here at Biltmore, which was his last professional project before his death in 1903.

Approach Road to Biltmore HouseFor the magnificent estates he landscaped, Olmsted preferred longer-than-usual approach drives and separate garden spaces or "outdoor rooms" that were distinct from one another with no blending of styles.

The methods Olmsted used for creating special spaces are very noticeable in spring when the gardens and grounds begin to bloom with color. When estate employees were asked to share their favorite outdoor rooms around the estate, their answers were a tribute to all that Olmsted envisioned to enchant the Vanderbilts and their guests more than a century ago.

Parker Andes, Director of Horticulture, has a favorite spot tucked away in the Italian Garden. “There's a terra cotta cherub fountain in the last little turf area near the end of the garden," said Parker. "Most people miss this treasure because they don’t walk all the way down there."

Azalea Garden stepsAnother special location mentioned by several staff members is a bench at the top of the Spring Garden. From this vantage point, you can look down into the Azalea Garden and also have a view of the distant mountains.

“The Spring Garden is like a little valley that opens up off the beaten path. The grass gets green there first and flowers bloom early,” said Cathy Barnhardt, Floral Displays Manager. “It’s a great place to spend time with your family.”

Another not-to-be-missed favorite outdoor room is the Azalea Garden with all its varieties, colors, and sweet fragrances of azalea to enjoy. "Although the Azalea Garden wasn't part of Olmsted's original plan, it makes perfect use of a wooded space," noted Parker. "The blooms are spectacular in late spring, so be sure to take time to walk down the stone steps—another technique Olmsted used to divide outdoor rooms—and stroll down the path there, noticing the stream lined with wild flowers and unusual conifers."

Boathouse on the Bass PondBelow the Azalea Garden, Hope Wright of A Gardener's Place loves walking down the path to the Bass Pond. "I stop on the bridge going toward the Boat House and sit on the bench," Hope said. "This is a favorite spot of mine in the spring as I look back upon the stunning beauty I have just witnessed.”

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Posted on 06/22/2016 By Nancy B

was at the Biltmore yesterday. Looking at the front, there is a garden with a tree that vines through a metal frame. It is beautiful and we would like to know the name of it. Thanks

Posted on 06/16/2016 By Lonnie F

If you don't sit for a spell near one of the plantings of Bee Balm, in the walled garden....you will miss the the constant visits from the numerous Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds that call this place their summer home

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