Hubs & I belong to a wonderful Facebook group called Fans of Biltmore House, which is currently nearing 9000 members who share a passion for Biltmore, George Washington Vanderbilt's summer home in Asheville NC. We share photos and factoids, have a book club, ask each other questions, and spring and fall (November, once the Christmas decorations are up) have a big group meetup. The most recent meetup was May 20, and I was fortunate to take two tours, this one and the Art of Biltmore House Tour, after hours.
My photos from the day are here.
My photos from the day are here.
Landscape Architecture Tour 2017 0520
Jane Giudici, guide
(Apologies -- these are rather scribble-scrabble notes, but I was writing as fast as I could! And I’m more than willing to share what info I jotted down, just recognize their limitations.)
(Caveat: this is technically named "Garden Tour", but I think a better descriptor is Olmstead Tour, or Landscape Architecture Tour because it's located in the gardens but isn't at all about the horticulture, which is what I think of when I hear "garden".)
Book rec: Genius of Place re Olmstead
Hunt Fountain is so named because that’s where he stood in his portrait, in which you can also see the staircase exterior.
Collaboration of GWV-Hunt-Olmstead
60x GWV crossed the Atlantic!!
QOTD (quote of the day):
from Jane, our guide, to the security guard ready to check our bags before we went on a house tour:
“We’re going in the gardens so you don’t need to check bags. These are all Fans of Biltmore House and SO AM I.” (brandishing the button she had just received from Jamine)
Every garden steps down, and every garden has a windbreak.
“A walk needs a destination” -- Olmstead’s reason for insisting on the Tea House at far end of South Terrace
125K acres extends to 1mile past Pisgah Mt
“Deer parks” in Europe were to beckon animals close, to make hunting earlier. Name borrowed for Biltmore, but hunting wasn’t the intention here.
If Olmstead had his way, 9miles of arboretum. GWV not so excited about it -- over the course of 5 years (and Olmstead aging) the plan dissipated.
Olmstead had a vision of a kitchen garden, but GWV wanted garden for “sight and sense”. (And GWV was footing the bill, so he won)
Italian Garden is probably named for its statues and urns; really it’s a French formal garden in layout.
6 weddings on estate today! (pics of chandelier tent in the Italian Garden)
(my fav statue real name) “The Dancing Lesson”
Pergola initially built of pine, replaced with cedar.
In the wall of the brickwork by the pergola is NATURAL growth; it wasn’t planted!
b/c of windbreaks, three from house to conservatory, soil is 10F warmer in walled garden than Italian
Everything here was hand planted and designed
Olmstead had the vision to see what would be down the road
Ridge view -- overlooking walled garden -- steps rescued from a basement entrance
(people in that era walked all year round, and had special outfits for going out walking)
Conservatory is 7400 square feet!
Only conservatory designed with a basement
Includes basement heaters to keep temps right in different areas
Florists don’t cut flowers from the estate (they order out) b/c the flowers are for guests -- but they do cut greens!
Back in GWV’s day the conservatory flowers were for the house
Olmstead put in input on the Stables b/c windows, etc -- another windbreak
Book of Olmstead letters (rec by Jamine)
Olmstead noticed in Europe that if there was a patch of green, people visit and feel calm, therefore was insistent on green space
Olmstead was also an abolitionist and a transcendentalist
More ornate chimneys on this side b/c viewed from garden
Opposite side plain chimneys so eye is drawn to Winter Garden
Walled Garden 400’x400’
Espaliered fruit trees - form of pruning
Fan shape & chandelier shape
Therefore broad but thin
Can grow lots of fruit trees in small space
200 varieties of roses
Edith loved roses
1930s added 1000 plants b/c opened it to the public
(my pic) Clematis - climbing vine - easy to grow
“Pebbledash” - exterior of Conservatory and Biltmore Village
Conservatory is 900 feet from the house & 90 feet down
Olmstead had the workers place rocks in the dirt & partly cover them so it looked natural
Olmstead didn’t know the horticultural side, just the visual, so he relied on Chauncey Beadle for the horticulture.
Olmstead Jr trained under Beadle to get that side, and took over from his dad after his dad passed away in a sanitarium that he designed.
Amorpha phallus (pointed out by Plant Junkie)
Stokes Aster - easy to grow - will look for some for our yard!