Biltmore Estate and The FESTIVAL Of FLOWERS!

At this cold and dreary time of year, I am usually dreaming of spring! Of course to satisfy my gardener's heart, this normally involves visions of flowers, lots of flowers.  Some may view this post as an exercise in torture, given the dearth of beauty in the landscape right now, but let's take a look regardless. 

Several springs ago, my husband and I visited Biltmore Estate in Asheville, during the 'Festival of Flowers'.  Also known as 'Biltmore Blooms', this event is an absolute flower fix for those with such an addiction. I admit I am one who is happily afflicted. 

The gardens and grounds, designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, are something to behold.  They encompass 8000 acres, with the paths and garden layout still true to Olmsted's 1893 landscape plan. Olmsted wanted a completely natural feel to the landscape of this property, and planted shrubs and tree saplings in the tens of thousands. 

Olmsted, also known as the father of american landscape architecture, also designed Central and Prospect Parks in NYC, campus designs for University of California at Berkley and Stanford University. In Washington DC he was responsible for the landscape design at the US Capitol Building.  For additional information, you can read more on the design of the landscape at Biltmore by Frederick Law Olmsted here:

At Biltmore, gorgeous colors and varieties of flowers, blooming at a variety of times, can be seen throughout the property.  We visited early in the festival, before the main gardens were in full bloom. Happily, there were still many plants in bloom at that time.

In these pictures, we see the following:

    • Blue Flag Iris, Iris versicolor
    • Iceplant, Delosperma cooperi
    • Creeping Phlox, Phlox subulata 'Emerald Pink'
    • Creeping Sedum 'Angelina',Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
    • Lambs Ear, Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears'
    • Blue Fescue, Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue
    • Knock Out Rose, Rosa 'Radrazz' PP#11836
    • Emerald Spreader Yew,Taxus cuspidata 'Monloo' P.P. #10,335

    Maintenance of gardens this large is a sizeable task. There are currently 60 full time employees to maintain the gardens, which also include arborists and gardeners. Of the 8000 acres the property includes, 1000 of those acres require in-depth maintenance. Besides mowing, pruning and fertilizing the existing plant material, many require specialized treatments. Some specimens on the property are over a century old!.  Each year, the grounds crew also installs over 40,000 tulip bulbs.  

    All of this maintenance is necessary to keep the gardens looking their best for the 900,000 guests which visit Biltmore each year.

    On our visit, the tulips in the main garden had not emerged yet, so we moved on up towards the main house. Here we see the following:

    • Crimson Queen Japanese Maple, Acer Palmatum 'Crimson Queen'
    • Wisteria, Wisteria frutescens 'Amethyst Falls' 

    The peak bloom time is in April/May for the main gardens, but blooms can be found during most of the growing season.  The staggering of  bloom time was by Olmsted's design.  

    In addition to the formal walled garden, you can also find an Italian garden, and a formal Rose garden. The Conservatory, at the end of the walled garden, is home to a large variety of tropical and exotic plants. 

    The grounds and drives are home to the Azalea garden (check out the carnivorous plants in the bog)  and a mile long sunflower patch along the winery drive. 

    You can check the bloom times in the garden and grounds by clicking on the link below:

    If you are interested in attending during 2015, it is scheduled for March 20- May 25, you can read more here: 

    I have also pinned pictures of Biltmore in full bloom on my Pinterest page:

    About the Author:

    Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 29 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites: