As I imagined, there was far more to the Biltmore Estate than just walking around a magnificent house, although that in itself was well worth the price of admission. The nature of Biltmore extends to every corner of the 8,000-acre estate which includes some spectacular gardens.
Biltmore was landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s final major project and what an almighty challenge it must have been. In 1895, the original property purchased by George W. Vanderbilt covered 125,000 acres, much of it over-farmed and with many of its trees already cut down, but with the help of Olmsted’s brilliant planning it was turned into a profitable, self-sustaining estate.
It is interesting to note that the Biltmore Estate appears on the National Historic Landmark Register not because of the house, but because Carl A. Schenck established the first forestry education program in the U.S. here on the estate grounds in 1898.
Vanderbilt had asked Olmsted to set aside 75 acres to be transformed into formal gardens, one of which is the Italian Garden that features three large water gardens and classical statuary. Each pool contains water lilies, lotus and papyrus as well as other water plants. You will see koi and goldfish swimming about among the lily pads and I also noticed a large number of tadpoles in various stages of development lounging around the edges of the center pool.
The 4-acre Walled Garden features thousands of tulips in the spring and colorful mums at autumn time. Our visit came just after they had planted out all the summer annuals and as they hadn’t had time to become established, the beds were not quite as spectacular as they might have been, but the garden still looked beautiful nevertheless.
Similarly, the rose garden had already seen the first flowers in full bloom and they were past their best but if you didn’t examine them too closely you could imagine how gorgeous the garden must have looked just a few weeks previously. Timing is everything and it’s not always possible to visit these places at exactly the right moment. Still, we were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed brilliant sunshine throughout our stay in Asheville.
Water plays an important part at Biltmore. The French Broad River runs through the middle of the estate which also features a bass pond and waterfall.
Traveling further from the house you come to the Farm, Antler Hill Village and The Winery, all of which are overlooked by The Inn on Biltmore Estate.
As always seems to be the case, we had to cram as much sightseeing as we could into one day, but you could easily spend a few days at Biltmore in order to look at everything.