"" Writer's Wanderings: Exploring Biltmore--The Conservatory

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Exploring Biltmore--The Conservatory

 There have been many indoor garden displays that we have explored but I think this is my favorite. The conservatory sits inside the walled garden. At first we thought it wasn't open until ten and we had arrived at nine when the Biltmore app said it was open. There didn't seem to be any activity, few cars in the parking lot and from the back of it, it didn't look open.

We shivered as we walked around to the front thinking if it was closed, we'd explore the garden area inside the wall and hope the wind wasn't as sharp there. 

The garden is probably quite beautiful at other times of the year but winter was not kind. Roses had lost their blooms and it was difficult to tell what the other plants were since they were in their dormant stage. 

We walked through the arbor that runs down the center of the walled garden but just as we were about to give up and sit in the car for a bit, we noticed other people arriving. A try of the front door rewarded us with entry.

Given the Christmas season, there were plenty of poinsettias, some I've never seen before. Back home, during the season, many poinsettias are artificially colored and its obvious. Here, there were several that were variegated. Some were a yellow green and I saw one that was a purplish color. None looked artificially colored. 

Larger shrubs and trees, including a lemon tree and several orange trees, must have been there for a long time. Some of them had extremely large roots and I wondered how the horticulturalists kept them contained in the walled sections where they grew.

Lots of gorgeous orchids were dotted through out the several exhibit rooms. Again, some colors and shapes that I've never seen before.

Blooming plants and foliage were fascinating, unusual and, when the sun emerged, were caught in the spotlight of sun beams through the glass windows. 

Before I forget, I do need to mention that the conservatory dates back to 1895, the year that the Vanderbilts moved in. It was a collaboration of George Vanderbilt, Frederick Law Olmsted (the estate's landscape architect) and Richard Morris Hunt (the mansion's architect).

There are more gardens to explore to one side of the front of the mansion but with the cold weather, we were done once we left the warmth of the conservatory.

I need to mention as well that there are all sorts of hiking trails that wind around the estate where you can take in the beautiful rolling fields, shaded forested areas and ponds and lakes. 

Lots to see but we had miles to go yet before reaching Florida. Hopefully it would be warmer.

Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures. I couldn't stop taking them.

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