Biltmore House and Gardens – Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore House and Gardens – Asheville, North Carolina

note: all photos are mine and are copyright, Kara Cox.  Please also me for permission to duplicate.

The article below was written by me about my personal trip and I received no promotional consideration or gifts. It is simply my opinion and my experience, yours may differ.

My husband and I took a trip to Biltmore House and Gardens  in Asheville, NC  and I want to go back…immediately!  It was beautiful, the food was good, our hotel was wonderful.  I have no complaints! I took a lot of pictures because everywhere you turn, there is something to photograph.

A quick introduction: Biltmore is the Vanderbilt Family estate, opened in 1895 after six years of construction.  The unbelievably magnificent house was a family home for George Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith and their daughter, Cornelia.  It is still owned and operated by their descendants and has been open to the public since 1930. The house still has original furnishings and incredible artwork (the family portrait artist was John Singer Sergeant).  George Vanderbilt spared no expense outfitting the home with things unheard up to that time: electricity throughout, a lighted indoor pool, elevators, and hot and cold running water on all four floors.

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The Biltmore, reflected in The Lagoon. Late afternoon.

 

Checking In

Our visit began with checking into our hotel,  The Village Hotel at Antler Hill Village.  This hotel is one of two hotels on the Biltmore property.  It is the less pricey option and therefore, you do a little more for yourself.  We are no-frills travelers so this worked well for us. They provide carts for you to roll you luggage to your room and you have to do things like get your own ice. Our room was a lovely Village Studio King, and the pictures and description on the website are accurate.  We had a view of the mountains, a very comfortable king bed, and a refrigerator to keep drinks cold.  If you want a full service hotel, they have one of those too– The Biltmore Inn is just up the hill (the rooms at the Inn don’t have refrigerator, so if that is important to you, stay at the Village Hotel.  We ate all of our meals there (yummy!).

Our package came with unlimited visits and free shuttle rides to Biltmore House.  I went up to the house at least twice a day.  I visited the interior of Biltmore House, and took my power walks through the gardens.  I love a walk with a view:

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The bridge at the Bass Pond was featured in “Last of the Mohicans”.

 

Biltmore House

We went inside the house twice. We took a Guided House Tour, which included the main floor and the upper flors of the house. It was so good we wanted to know more. So, the next morning, we returned to tour the basement.  Our package also had Audio Guides included so we picked up handsets and did the self guided tour.  I highly recommend both of these tours.  Do not miss the basement!  It is incredible. There are the kitchens and staff rooms, but also the pool and a bowling alley.

 

Scenes from the Guided House Tour

Clockwise from top left: The Library Ceiling (thats a canvas not a fresco), Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, the Tapestry Gallery, The Banquet Hall, and The Winter Garden (with Chihuly)

 

 

Scenes from the Downstairs Audio Guide Tour to the Biltmore House

Clockwise from top left: The Kitchen, The Kitchen, The Stone Hallway, The Bowling Alley and the Swimming Pool

 

My favorite spot was The Loggia.  I imagine that I had been a guest at Biltmore House, I would have spent all day out here, reading and looking at the mountains.

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The Loggia

 

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mountain view from The Loggia

 

 

Gardens

Biltmore’s gardens and grounds  were so extensive that I took a guided tour of the gardens. There are so many trees and flowers that our guide warned us ahead of time that she would not be able to identify every plant. It wasn’t until I got into the gardens that I fully understood what she meant.  The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park.  Much like Central Park, Biltmore’s landscape is huge. I enjoyed learning about the history of the gardens and seeing them in full bloom.  The guide said we need to come back when the Azalea Garden is in bloom (Spring).  I will.

We also had the great fortune to be there when they had the glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly were on display in the gardens.  The exhibit is open through October 7, 2018 and well worth the visit.  I particularly enjoyed the ones in the ponds in the “Italian Garden” as the vibrant colors reflecting in the water were quite stunning.

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“Float Boat” by Dale Chihuly, 2017 with Biltmore House in background

 

 

If you go, don’t miss the two Chihuly works on display in Antler Hill Village.  One is especially spectacular at night:

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“Alabaster and Amber Spire Towers”, by Dale Chihuly, 2017 photographed at night

 

 

A Few small tips for enjoying your stay:

  1. Stay on site if you can.  It is well worth it to have access to the house and be able to go back to your room when you get tired.
  2. Talk to your shuttle drivers.  They are wealth of information.  Had it not been for one of my shuttle drivers, I would have missed photographing the house reflecting in the The Lagoon.
  3. Visit “The Biltmore Legacy”, the Vanderbilt Family exhibit in Antler Hill Village.  It only takes 15-30 minutes and it’s free. It goes a little more in depth into the family and their life.  They have family tree so you can keep track of who is who.  They also have some amazing antique silver and other items from their collection on display.
  4. Love wildflowers and sunflowers?  Walk (or drive or rent a bike an ride) the road from The Village Hotel to The Lagoon. In September, the entire roadside was abloom with sunflowers and wildflowers. Gorgeous!
  5. Take your best camera.  There is so much to photograph.

 

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The sunflower field runs for an entire mile along the road to the Village Hotel.

 

Biltmore would be great for girls weekends, couple getaways, romance, marriage proposals, adult gatherings, weddings and groups. We were there for two and half days, but I easily could have been there a couple days longer.  There are so many activities to do on-site: hikes, bike rentals, Segway tours, fly fishing, wine tastings, check it out!

There is a lot of walking. It is a challenge to get around the grounds of the house and gardens if you are in a stroller or wheelchair or have mobility impairment.  It can be done, and asking someone is advised because ramps are sometimes not readily visible. Inside the house, the original elevator is still working and is available for those who need it.

Feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer.  Enjoy!
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Can one ever have too many hydrangeas? Answer: no. Here’s how to get more.

Can one ever have too many hydrangeas? Answer: no. Here’s how to get more.

I love hydrangea season.  And it’s here! The first of my hydrangeas bloomed this week.  We’ve had a ton of rain here in the mid-Atlantic so I am hoping that this year they will flourish.  I have three kinds in my garden: a miniature variety called Bobo, a hot pink one called City Lights, and the classic Nikko Blue.  I planted the Nikko Blue about twenty years ago and they have been quite easy to grow in my soil, which is heavy on red clay.

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One important note: deer will eat your hydrangea.  I moved the Nikko Blue into my front yard and they were all eaten so I moved them back home to the back yard two years ago and they are thriving again.

Hydrangea make beautiful cut flowers and they dry nicely (I will touch on that in future posts).  They are also fairly easy to propagate.  Sometimes they will do it on their own and one day you’ll notice a new plant next to a host plant, as shown below.

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Always check your low lying branches when you cut back in the fall, one may have set down roots.  At that point, you can cut the branch from the host and leave it all winter and then move it to a new home in the spring.

But you can also make them propagate. Some people do it with cuttings in water, but I have never had much luck doing that and I find it tedious.

I prefer what some call the “brick method”.  This method forces the branch to put down roots.  To do it, take a lower branch and set something on it about halfway between the plant and the end of the branch. It can be a brick, or in this case, I have used a cement bunny.

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That’s all you need to do for now. Leave it there all summer and make sure it gets water,  In fall, if it has set down roots, you can cut the branch to free it from the host.  You can also feed it some fertilizer. Some people replant at this point, but I prefer to let the baby plant stay snuggled next to its mama all winter and replant in the spring.  I often put the new plants in pots for the following summer. Wherever I move them, I make sure to take a good amount of the host soil. It may take a year or two for the new plant to flower.

I potted these Bobo hydrangea last summer and look at them now!

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If you have any questions, comment below and I will do my best to answer quickly.

Happy gardening!F5E555AC-344E-45CE-9133-C5A0353B1C9D