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Photos by Susan Mertz.

In the garden at the Biltmore Susan Mertz


ast summer, a friend texted me photos of a beautiful garden telling me that my husband and I needed to go there. Reading her texts and seeing the pictures, I knew then that someday my husband and I would visit the Biltmore. As it turned out, someday came rather quickly and our friends joined us for the adventure! Constructed in the late 1800’s, the Biltmore is a magnificent mansion of 250 rooms filled with art

and treasures on thousands of acres in Asheville, North Carolina. George Vanderbilt contracted architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the mansion and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the 125,000 acre property. Olmstead, designer of New York City’s Central Park, had quite a challenge ahead of him as much of the property at the site of the estate had been clear cut. His vision of roads, streams, lakes, rolling woodlands, “natural” landscape, formal gardens, dairy farm, and timber forest was created. With millions of plants required for the property, horticulturist Chauncey Beadle was hired and managed the nursery and property. Beadle sculpted Olmsted’s design including scouring the countryside

for native plants to add to the azalea garden. Fortunately, the combined vision and hard work of this team have been preserved. While the house is filled with priceless tapestries collected over a century ago by the Vanderbilts, the property is a tapestry created by Olmsted. Walking the grounds today, it is incredible to look at the mature trees and know they were carefully sited as saplings by him. The curving pathways through the shrub garden and trails help slow down the pace of life. We realized that if there was a rock made for sitting along a trail, it was placed there with purpose. We should sit and take a few moments to appreciate the view including the different shades of green, colorful foliage and layers of the canopy

of the trees. The Biltmore Legacy of the Land tour guide explained Olmsted’s design elements of the approach road. The open curves of the three mile road to the house builds excitement as the curves in the road get sharper, the plantings, more dense all the while blocking the view of the mansion until you find yourself gasping at the breathtaking view of the home and surroundings from the front lawn. Parker Andes, Director of Horticulture, graciously spent an afternoon with us touring the gardens and telling us about the property that is now 8,000 acres and how it has evolved. The Biltmore nursery that supplied the plants for the property and to the public were washed away by a flood decades ago. The dairy farm that supplied


Dirt • Rock • Mulch • Pavers • Retaining Wall • Flagstone • Wall Stone


(816) 525-1111 or (816) 554-DIRT 1820 NE County Park Rd, 11/4 mi. East of Hwy 291 on Colbern Rd, in Lee’s Summit, MO

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September 2015 |

KCG 09SEP15  

cottonwood trees, biltmore, goldenrod, reseeding, sumac, birds, roses, butterflies

KCG 09SEP15  

cottonwood trees, biltmore, goldenrod, reseeding, sumac, birds, roses, butterflies