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Biltmore’s Summertime Gardens

Submitted by on July 25, 2014 – 8:38 amNo Comment

northcarolina_asheville_biltmore_summer-gardens Special to Road Trips for Gardeners

Tropical plants and palms figure heavily into the mix to create the effect of a living Impressionist painting in the gardens at the Biltmore, One Lodge Street, Asheville, North Carolina.

The estate’s original landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, called for Biltmore’s summertime gardens to mix tropical elements into manicured areas, as was the style in the late 1890s when the estate was constructed.

Giant terra cotta urns stationed in front of Biltmore House – original to the estate – are vessels for tall palms and tropical trees during summertime. Behind the Conservatory, another 1,200 terra cotta containers spill over with tropical plantings.

Biltmore’s horticulture team selects and nurtures plantings that yield vivid, saturated hues, as intended by Olmsted and Biltmore founder, George Vanderbilt. Estate-wide, the gardens are bursting with bright summer annuals, such as marigolds, impatiens, salvia and coleus.

The Walled Garden is actually home to several “mini” gardens. Look for butterflies in the Butterfly Garden, located directly in front of the majestic Conservatory. Attracting them there is a selection of fennel, cone flowers, salvias, asters and sedums.

Woody plants in the Scented Border, such as the harlequin glorybower and Southern magnolia, offer sweet, heady aromas. The Victorian Border features perennials and annuals common to the era when Biltmore was constructed, such as cannas, hollyhocks, bananas, elephant ears and tropical foliage plants.

The peach, purple and lime green palette in the Walled Garden’s pattern beds complement the border along the north drive. It has been planted to reflect the color progression of a rainbow. Chosen plant varieties will grow and mature into a lush and exuberant setting.

At the western edge of the Walled Garden, the scent of rose is unmistakable near the Conservatory, where hundreds of heirloom varieties climb and wrap around trellises in the historic Rose Garden.

Garden designers have incorporated historic elements into the “hidden” passageways behind the Conservatory, using old iron gates that once stood along Biltmore’s main road as structures for orange and purple climbing vines.

The French chateaus that served as inspiration for Vanderbilt had formal gardens with pools and fountains, so Olmsted incorporated this concept into the Italian Gardens. Reflecting pools host water lilies, elephant ears and papyrus, with koi and goldfish swimming just beneath. But the stars of the show are the Victorian lilies, which look like giant floating cake pans with spines and bear night-blooming, pineapple-scented flowers. They will grow to nearly three feet wide.

Nearly hidden in the bog area of the Azalea Garden ravine, carnivorous pitcher plants await their unsuspecting prey. These interesting plants are not native to this area, but the plants growing here are hardy in the mountains: yellow pitcher plant, fluted red pitcher plant, and white-topped pitcher plant.

In mid-to-late summer, tall sunflowers stretch nearly a mile amid a meadow of native grasses on the road leading from Biltmore House and gardens to the Winery and Antler Hill Village.

Access to Biltmore’s gardens is included in the admission price.

(Photo courtesy of the Biltmore)

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