Biltmore Gardens Story Ideas
George Vanderbilt envisioned Biltmore as a working, self-sufficient estate, complete with thriving gardens and herds of livestock. More than a century later, his vision is still alive at Biltmore. Biltmore’s Kitchen and Production gardens provide estate chefs with an array of produce throughout the season, while the Farm’s heirloom chickens ensure a steady supply of eggs. The estate’s herd of Angus cattle and flocks of White Dorper sheep also supply the restaurants with prime cuts of meat, providing fresh meaning to the farm-to-table trend.
Chauncey Beadle came to the estate as a young man, fresh from Cornell, in 1890. Hired only for a month to serve as a horticulturalist, he stayed for 60 years and filled many roles on the estate. He eventually served as Vanderbilt’s assistant and the estate superintendent. In his spare time, he was known as an “Azalea Hunter” and traveled the U.S. in search of new specimens. His passion resulted in a collection of 3,000 plants – one of the largest collections in the world. In 1940, he donated his collection to Biltmore. Today, guests can enjoy Beadle’s generosity every spring when Biltmore’s Azalea Garden is in full bloom.
The beginning of scientific forestry and forest conservation in the United States took place at Biltmore. With George Vanderbilt’s blessing, Frederick Law Olmsted – known for many landscape masterpieces around the country, most notably Central Park in New York City – conceived and established a unique plan of forestry management for the estate’s original 125,000 acres. This eventually led to the founding of the Biltmore Forest School, the first school in the country to train professional foresters. The land on which the students trained and studied is now part of the Pisgah National Forest and is known as the “Cradle of Forestry” in America.
In summer, Biltmore guests enjoy a beautiful surprise as they drive from Biltmore House to Antler Hill Village. Acres of cheerful sunflowers greet guests from July to September. Biltmore’s Grounds Maintenance crew plants the seeds in three different stages to ensure a steady show of blooms throughout the summer. The plants grow from 36 inches to 72 inches, and their placement is carefully orchestrated to ensure that every bloom is visible from the road.
Celebrate summer with the perfect pastime: a garden picnic. With thousands of acres at your disposal, there are endless picnic spots on the estate. Here are a few of our favorite places:
- The South Terrace offers sweeping views of the Deer Park behind Biltmore House and entices with a panoramic backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- The vista at Biltmore House makes you feel like the king of the castle with views of Biltmore House and the Front Lawn.
- Spread a blanket underneath a shade tree in the Shrub Garden, then take a short walk along the garden’s rambling paths.
- The Lagoon offers stunning views of Biltmore House’s west facade and a chance to enjoy some leisurely bird-watching.
Biltmore gardener Jim Rogers works behind the scenes, but his efforts are visible every time an orchid blooms in Biltmore’s Conservatory. A retired sculptor, Rogers spends his days indulging his lifelong passion for orchids. He takes care of 300 orchids in Biltmore’s production house and 100 orchids in the Conservatory. His hard work and tender care mean guests always enjoy a beautiful array of blooms when they visit.
When George Vanderbilt purchased land for Biltmore, much of it was overworked farmland and overcut woodland. Many of the majestic trees visible on the estate today were planted according to designs created by Biltmore’s landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. These historic trees are monitored by Biltmore’s arborist department to ensure their future vitality. They are also well-loved by Bill Alexander, Biltmore’s landscape and forest historian, who includes the trees in his documentation and preservation research for the estate.
Looking for fresh ideas for the home garden? Biltmore’s experts are an endless source of inspiration with easy ideas that make a huge impact. Our readily available tips include how to re-create Biltmore’s butterfly garden at home and how to properly plant an azalea.