The Historic Rose Garden at Biltmore Estate

In 1888, when George Vanderbilt began purchasing land in western North Carolina for Biltmore, his country estate, he wanted to create a European country setting to complement his grand chateau – the 250-room Biltmore House. He knew that he needed help to accomplish his goal.

He hired Frederick Law Olmsted, the first American landscape architect, to fulfill his vision. It would be Olmsted’s final project and perhaps his grandest legacy.

After visiting the estate for the first time in 1889, Olmsted wrote to Vanderbilt, “My advice would be to make a small park into which to look from your house; make a small pleasure ground and garden…” Vanderbilt agreed with Olmsted’s recommendations.

Biltmore would become a working estate with a large farm, but it would also become a place of beauty where impressive gardens would showcase nature’s glory. Olmsted included a combination of woodlands, fields and gardens, which blended European design with his signature naturalistic style.

The Rose Garden at Biltmore, situated in the southern tier of the estate’s formal Walled Garden, is part of the landscape legacy Olmsted left for future generations. The garden has been in continuous cultivation since 1895. That year, Olmsted made up a list of roses to be delivered to Biltmore Estate. It included 18 varieties ranging in price from 3 and ½ cents for a small pot to 20 cents for a two-year-old plant. The priciest roses on the list were ‘Duchess de Brabant,’ ‘American Beauty,’ ‘Malmaison,’ ‘Mme Joseph Schwartz,’ and ‘Etoile de Lyon.’ Thus began the care and cultivation of roses in the historic Walled Garden.

Today, Biltmore’s Rose Garden experts rely on both historical design intent and contemporary horticultural practices to display this world-class garden. They maintain more than 1,800 roses and 120 different cultivars laid out in both French formal and English border designs. The garden is home to nearly every class of roses, including roses of antiquity and cutting-edge varieties.   

The estate hosted its first Biltmore International Rose Trials in 2011. Patterned after similar trials in Europe and under the umbrella of the World Federation of Rose Societies, the trials give breeders from around the world a place to trial and display their roses, and for home gardeners to learn what roses do well and what may be potential candidates for their own gardens.

In 2016, Biltmore was recognized by the World Federation of Rose Societies with the presentation of the Award of Garden of Excellence.

About Biltmore

Located in Asheville, N.C., Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt.  Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Biltmore estate encompasses more than 8,000 acres including renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. Today, Biltmore includes Antler Hill Village, which features the award-winning Winery and Antler Hill Farm; four-star The Inn on Biltmore Estate; the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate; Equestrian Center; numerous restaurants; event and meeting venues; and BiltmoreFor Your Home, the company’s licensed products division. To learn more about Biltmore, go to or call 877-BILTMORE.