Biltmore - Asheville, N.C.

Awash in color

Biltmore surrounded by spectacular gardens


Biltmore - Asheville, N.C.

When George Vanderbilt began purchasing land for his grand Biltmore Estate in 1888, the tracts were rough and overworked. Vanderbilt wanted to create a European country setting to complement his grand chateau, but 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 most grand legacy. To assist with developing the gardens, Olmsted hired a Cornell-educated horticulturalist Chauncey Beadle. Beadle was hired only temporarily in 1890, but ended up staying until his death in 1960.

During his time on the estate, Beadle developed a love for azaleas and amassed a personal collection containing 3,000 plants. In 1940, he donated the entire collection to Biltmore. Check out these stunning images of the famous Azalea Garden along with Biltmore’s other notable gardens.


rose garden
ROSE GARDEN: More than 200 varieties of heirloom and hybrid roses bloom in the Rose Garden. This garden also features historically inspired rose displays with May poles, plus a selection of varieties that are undergoing trial.
Spring Garden
SPRING GARDEN: This sheltered valley is surrounded by a grove of white pines and hemlocks. It is filled with an array of spring blooming shrubs including forsythia, spirea, deutzia and mock orange.
Italian Garden
ITALIAN GARDEN: The Italian Garden features classical statuary and three formal water gardens. This area hosted tennis and croquet matches on the grassy area near the house. In warm weather, koi and goldfish swim in the pools among large Victorian lilies, water lilies, lotus and papyrus.
Azalea Garden
AZALEA GARDEN: This 15-acre garden — the largest on the estate — contains one of the country’s largest selections of native azaleas. It represents 60 years of work by Chauncey Beadle, an avid azalea collector and horticulturist hired at Biltmore in 1890 and who later became the estate’s superintendent. Also notable are the evergreen China firs — often mistaken for pine trees but with wide, flat, sharp leaves rather than needles — and the Katsura trees that display brilliant foliage and a distinctive “cotton candy” fragrance in autumn.
Bass Pond - Frederick Law Olmsted
BASS POND: Frederick Law Olmsted created this water feature from an old creek-fed millpond, adding a rustic boat house so the Vanderbilts’ guests could rest while enjoying the gardens. The arched brick bridge crossing the pond was featured in the 1991 film The Last of the Mohicans.
Library and South Terraces
LIBRARY AND SOUTH TERRACES: The terraces were designed for Vanderbilt’s guests who preferred to stay close to Biltmore House. The South Terrace provides spectacular views, while the Library Terrace is shaded by an arbor of wisteria and trumpet creeper vines.
CONSERVATORY: Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt
CONSERVATORY: Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, this glass-roofed building nurtures exotic orchids, ferns, and palms and provides flowers and plants for the house just as it did in Vanderbilt’s time.
WALLED GARDEN: This four-acre formal garden features flowerbeds planted in the “bedding out” style popular in the late 1800s. Two arbors totaling 236 feet serve as its spine. The central beds feature thousands of tulips in the spring, vivid summer annuals and a kaleidoscope of mums in the fall. Themed areas include a Victorian border, winter border, scented border, butterfly garden and white border.

Road Trip

Hilton Head Island to Biltmore (Asheville, N.C.)

Duration: 4 hours, 57 minutes (302 miles)

Admission: $60-$85

Hip spots in Asheville

Where to eat

Sunny Point Café (breakfast), Over Easy Cafe (brunch), Plant (lunch), HomeGrown (dinner)

Where to drink

Biscuit Head (coffee), Cúrate (wine), The Times at S&W (cocktails), Funkatorium (beer)

Where to go

Mast General Store, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville Pinball Museum, Western North Carolina Nature Center

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