13 November 2012

Asheville McMansion

Three days in Asheville, North Caroline. The blue isle in a sea of red is what I saw on the local television news analyzing the upcoming the election. I drove out from Greensboro while there for a convention in September. One full day was spent at the Biltmore.

The landmark home held my interest for an entire day. After the architect's tour, the butler's tour, and a lunch with fried green tomatoes (for only the second time in this native New Yorker's life) it was time to head to the gardens and greenhouse. This is a garden blog after all. So enjoy lots of pictures with some little comment and thoughts.

There were no suburban foundation plantings at the front entrance. But MY! Look at the size and contents of some of the planters along the front!

A staff member explained that there were planters at the front originally, but they did not contain the same plants we see there now.

The front lawn was, well, expansive - before riding mowers came along. The original rows of linden trees died out from disease and were replanted with a stronger variety. Notice the small one on the end - the new replacements continue to die in this one location. It's cursed. (By a gargoyle's evil eye?)

Water Gardens
The first stop was at the sunken garden. It featured three water gardens.

Notice the formal plan and shapes of the ponds: Informally arranged plants within the formal outline of the ponds.

Some large tall non-water plants were sneekily planted above the water (bananas for example), looking like they were growing in the ponds, too. I did not know that (what looks like) canna could grow in standing water. They might look better than the ratty cattails in the highly visible stormwater management basins plopped around here after the roads and Potomac River's Wilson Bridge was widened.

Annuals Garden
A path from the sunken garden to the greenhouse crossed what I call the annuals gardens - right down the middle.

Each side of a pleasant trellis-covered walk looked onto a large expanse of grass and beds of mundane annuals. Quantity (of some of my least favorite annuals) rather than quality inspired admiration. Where could one find the largest grasshopper in American but at the largest house in America.

But wait, look at some of the beds along the perimeter walk: Bananas, canna, and castor bean.


The greenhouse was stuffed with plants - maybe a little overstuffed? --Every cactus and succulent under the sun (or glass.) It's larger than a lot of botanical gardens and commercial greenhouses.

Guarding an entrance was a harmonious combination of purple castor bean plants (Ricinus communis) and elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) I believe were Mojito. Yellow Brugmansia were in bloom outside on a terrace.


Jim/ArtofGardening.org said...
Nice tour. I was there this past summer and didn't see half of what you did. I'd like to get back there and take the inside tours.
Swimray said...
By the time I got to the gardens, I was almost crawling on my hands and knees with exhaustion. Nothing would prevent me from getting my money's worth!
flwrjane said...
I haven't been there for years.

Loved your tour. The begonias,not so much.

xo Jane
Les said...
Love the Biltmore! A trip there was part of our honeymoon.
Northern Shade said...
It looks like a delightful garden to tour. Giant houses need giant sized front door pots to make a splash. The size of the people in the one photo put those pots in perspective. I like the look of the Colocasia under the castor bean plant, a nice foliage combination.
Patrick's Garden said...
Hey bud,
Thank you so much for this post. You rekindled a lot of great memories because aI was still walking when I was last there. All that grandeur in those smokey blue mountains. And I enjoyed the eclectic artist galleries, too.
J.C. said...
Wow -- you got some gorgeous shots. I toured when it was decorated for Christmas, which was amazing. But no gardens... I think I need to go back!