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It’s called “America’s Largest Home” which is an understatement. World-famous Biltmore House, in the North Carolina mountains, is a spectacular mansion of 250 rooms. But in its glory days (It was built in the 1890s), the grounds were even more spectacular than the house. George Washington Vanderbilt, the builder, set his mountain mansion in the midst of a whopping 125,000 acres of some of the most beautiful real estate on earth. Just a few miles from today's Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our most visited national park, the estate comprised whole mountains and valleys in virgin forest. The mansion commanded a huge natural wonderland of clear lakes, crystal waterfalls and rushing streams—some of the most incredible mountain scenery anywhere. Today, most of the land is in the national forest system, but the estate still includes 8,000 acres, 250 of them magnificently landscaped.
From the beginning, the gardens have been exceptional. Mr. Vanderbilt engaged the dean of American landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmstead (Yes, he’s the one who designed New York City’s Central Park) to create the mansion’s gardens back in the 1890s. From formal arrangements to creative vistas that lead toward and into the natural realm, the surrounding grounds were transformed into some of the most fabulous gardens in North America. Today, the tradition lives on. There are 2300 roses in the Rose Garden, over 1000 azaleas, and a special treat for gardeners--wonderful garden shops in and around the estate’s greenhouses.
So it’s only fitting that today’s expert garden staff at Biltmore would choose some of the bulbs they prefer to offer to the public. This is how the new Biltmore Estate Bulb Collection began. We are delighted to offer the bulbs, and I’m sure you’ll agree, the Biltmore gardeners chose well. For fall, there are truly magnificent daffodils, unusually beautiful tulips, and of course, some exquisitely fragrant hyacinths. During spring, we have the exceptional Biltmore dahlias, glads, and lilies (see photos below). All are included in the select group, deemed fine enough to grow at Biltmore House…and now at your house, too. Each of these bulbs can add a bit of the excellence of the Biltmore gardens to your own. We hope you enjoy the bulbs, and we welcome your comments.
~ Ray Allen, AmericanMeadows.com
Unlike most of America’s historic homes and many museums, Biltmore House is not run by some high-toned non-profit, but by actual descendants of the builder. And it shows. Not only is the estate in tip top condition, but visitors are made to feel more than welcome. This is why Biltmore today is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the east. It is owned and operated by a grandson of G.W. Vanderbilt, Mr. Wm. A.V.Cecil and his family. And what a wonderful job they do! The Cecils have created an onsite winery and today Biltmore Wines are award winners. And yes, there are tastings. In recent years, they completed an elegant new inn on the property, so now you can not only visit, you can stay. There are also several wonderful restaurants.
I have been to Biltmore several times over the years, once just a couple of years ago. My wife and I had a wonderful day strolling through the magnificent gardens and enjoying all the other amenities. They have special Spring events, Holiday programs, and more. If you haven’t ever visited, plan a trip. It’s a wonderful American family vacation experience at a place magnificently built and wonderfully presented. You can read more and plan your visit at the estate’s official website, The Biltmore Estate Website.