Biltmore Reopens the Grounds

Just in time for the Catawba Rhododendrons,  the Cecil family has opened the gates to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville for a limited number of Annual Passholders.  

rhodo 3

The best part is that all roads on the grounds are once again allowing private vehicles to drive freely through the spectacular  creation of Frederick Law Olmstead, the first time that has been permitted since last September, when vehicles were  restricted to the entrance road, and the western portion of the Estate along the French Broad River, and around the hotels and restaurants and the Vineyard.  Once again you can cruise past the House, and drive into the Gardens. The Garden gift shop, which had been closed last October, has also reopened.

mansion 1This is the  first time I have ever seen the Chateau’s front doors locked shut during the day, and the first time I have not seen a vehicle or a person in front of the largest private residence in America.mansion 2

Driving through the Estate, I never saw another car ahead of me or behind me. pink rhodoI could explore freely on foot, admiring all the varieties of Rhododendron, Azalea, and Mountain Laurel, all related to one another.

flame 2Flame Azalea and deep fuchsia Catawba Rhododendron.

mountain laurelMountain Laurel under a massive Norway Spruce…

azaleas 1The Azalea Garden…

jap maplesJapanese Maples along the drive…

pink rhodo 2Pink Rhododendron…rhodo 1

rosesClimbing Roses in the Conservatory’s garden…

flockEwes and their new Lambs graze in a pasture below the Chateau…

estate 2They don’t call it The Reflecting Pond for nothing…

On the way back to Otter Creek, I stopped to look back to the west, and to admire Mount Pisgah and the Balsams. That’s the eastern slope of Sunset Mountain in the foreground, and Asheville is nestled in the valley between the two.pisgah

George Vanderbilt had a vision of the grandest house ever built in America, and even a pandemic cannot take away from his dream.





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