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Summer 2014 Q&A with Parker Andes, Biltmore’s director of horticulture

Asheville, NC (June 2014)

How many types of plants are in the Walled Garden pattern beds?
There are 18 different types of plants in the Walled Garden pattern beds for summer 2014.

How many specific plants are in the pattern beds?
Roughly 14,000.

What is typical summertime bloom span?
From June through late September as the weather allows.

What colors will we see in the Walled Garden this year?
Purple, peach and lime green. Chartreuse, blue and lavender will also make an appearance. 

 

How many gardeners and how many hours does it take to care for the Walled Garden?
It takes six people roughly 40 hours a week, totaling up to 240 hours a week.

What is the largest lily pad in the Italian Garden pools?
The Victorian lily pad. In the tropics of South America, they can grow to 10 feet or more in diameter and have been known to support the weight of a small child. For our plants at Biltmore, the leaves will get to 2.5 to 3 feet wide since the air is cooler.  Ours don’t support a small child but Green Herons can be seen standing on the leaves early in the mornings, hunting for tadpoles.

What should guests look out for on their next visit?
One of my favorite perennials in the Walled Garden that is quite unique is the Pineapple Lily. The Sparkling burgundy variety has a dark foliage bulb with a bloom cluster that looks like a pineapple. 

What are some other fun facts about the summer gardens at Biltmore that come to mind?
• The American Daylily Society will hold their national meeting in Asheville June 25-28, so as a tribute and with their assistance, we’ve planted hundreds of daylilies throughout the estate, from the Walled Garden to Antler Hill Village. Guests will see some of the latest hybrids of daylilies. 

• The Grape Arbor that runs down the center of the Walled Garden has four different grape varieties on it. They are named after four rivers: Catawba, Concord, Niagara and Delaware.

• A trellis along the stone walls in the Walled Garden provides support for plants we prune and groom in the “espalier” style. The plants we maintain in this style are apples, pears, apriums, wisteria, Rose of Sharon and pyracantha. The word “espalier” is French, and it comes from the Italian “spalliera,” meaning “something to rest the shoulder against.” The purpose is to save space and control the plant growth for the production of fruit. We prune and tie the branches to a frame, often in a formal pattern, and set the frame flat against a structure such as a wall, fence or trellis. We prune ours for the ornamental aspect of it rather than fruit production. However, ours do flower and produce some fruit.

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