Spring at Biltmore Estate, Part II – guest post by TheWoobDog
I should note as we continue our photographic tour of the spring blooms at Biltmore that in all of these gardens, each season brings new delights (I admit that the delights of the winter season are best experienced inside Biltmore House rather than outside, but it’s every bit as breathtaking – the Candlelight Christmas tours are not to be missed). Spring is my favorite time of year to visit, but that’s mostly because the part of my brain that processes color atrophies over the winter and by April I’m usually desperate to see something blooming.* This also explains why spring is pretty much the only season my own garden has much in the way of color…**
If the azaleas had been in bloom, the Azalea Garden probably would have had the most color for our spring visit, but that honor fell to the Walled Garden this time. The Walled Garden is an English-style garden which covers about four acres and comprises a rose garden***, peony garden, and butterfly garden in addition to dozens of seasonal annual beds, culminating in an expansive conservatory.
The gardeners plant roughly 90,000 tulip bulbs for the spring display in the manicured central beds of the Walled Garden.## In summer, these are replaced by dahlias, zinnias, and globe amaranth, while in autumn masses of chrysanthemums are on display. I can’t even imagine doing this kind of massive all-change three times a year###, but I certainly appreciate the results.
I have it on good authority that these are Darwin Hybrid Tulips, but I can’t categorize them any more specifically, sadly (all you gardening buffs – please be gentle with me). The massed beds of tulips, daffodils, and pansies are showcased on either side of the 236 foot arbor that forms the spine of the garden, and the plantings continue inside the arbor itself. Tulips line the arbor floor and openings like picture frames run along its length, creating the lovely effect of a hall lined with flower prints.
Not all the beds are devoted to mass plantings – occasionally pops of color among the mulched side beds catch the eye. I love finding these little reminders of spring against the backdrop of brown, cheerily popping up and demanding attention.
Woobie, of course, preferred to spend the majority of her time frolicking in the soft lawn grasses, but we managed to get her to pose for a quick pic among the flowers before we called it a day.
I’d like to say that this has inspired me to get my own garden in order, but we’ll see. I did go out and grab some hostas and ferns for the hitherto neglected shady side of the yard today, though…†
* * *
* It’s also probably due to the fact that an unfortunate side effect of summer’s arrival is, you know, heat, and I much prefer strolling through gardens without the risk of heatstroke and third degree burns. There’s a reason I live in the mountains (and nowhere beats the mountains for autumn color, so of course I never feel the pressing need to head elsewhere during the fall).
** Remember those oddities of my gardening habits that I mentioned in the footnote in Part 1? I get so excited to see plants with blooms in the gardening centers in spring that I go into a frenzy of purchasing, buying more than any sane person with a full-time job would ever have time to plant. As a result, I get completely burned out on doing anything in the yard by about the end of May, and I boycott all the garden centers during summer. Since most garden centers wisely sell plants based on what’s blooming at any given time, this of course means that my yard is a riot of gorgeous color in spring (irises the size of my head are one of my favorites) and the only things blooming mid-summer are there by accident since I’m never in a garden center when they’re actually selling summer-blooming plants.
*** The rose garden contains over 2,300 roses representing 250 varieties, none of which are in bloom this early. ^
^ You will of course go back at a more propitious time. –ed.
# If there are any rabid orchid aficionados out there, I did take some gorgeous pics inside the Conservatory, but since I have no idea what any of the varieties are I didn’t post any. If there’s someone out there desperate for orchid pics perhaps Robin would approve a guest post collaboration – my pics and someone else’s intelligent orchid discourse.
## 90,000. This boggles my mind.
### Let’s be honest. I can’t imagine doing this once a year. Plants have to be hardy to make it in my garden – I won’t even plant bulbs that I have to dig up for overwintering, so I’m surely not going to dig up stuff for aesthetic reasons.^
^ Yes, the plants in my garden are sturdy, independent souls. The delicate ones don’t last long. On the upside, I can give anyone in a similar climate good advice on what plants can survive truly staggering amounts of neglect.
† Doing final edits on this about a month later (our visit was in April), and I felt I should ‘fess up and admit that the hostas and ferns are still hanging out in their pots weeks later waiting for me to get around to popping them in the ground.^
^ Apparently all of the synonyms for “slack” apply to my gardening habits – careless, derelict, neglectful, remiss, lax…
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