For many, the most popular attraction at Biltmore Estate is Biltmore House itself. While the House is amazing, and we enjoy visiting to see the new items and newly opened areas, our primary reason for going to Biltmore over and over again each year is the 30+ acres of Biltmore Gardens, that are adjacent to the house and just a short walk from the house.
The gardens were an original part of the home and designed by the then renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to blend with not only the design of Biltmore House itself but the land and mountains as well. Biltmore Gardens consists of a wonderful mix of formal and informal gardens for you to explore.
Biltmore Blooms – Spring
Biltmore Gardens feature blooms Spring through Fall, with various different flowering plants blooming at different times during the year.
The first day of Spring in March through May is Biltmore Blooms and is one of the most beautiful times to see the gardens, as the spring flowers and trees emerge and bloom.
>> See more photos and learn more about Biltmore Blooms in our 2018 Biltmore Blooms Guide.
How to access the Biltmore Gardens
The Biltmore Gardens are adjacent to Biltmore House. If you are facing the main entrance, walk to your left towards the south terrace. As you reach the South Terrace, a set of stairs will lead down to a Pergola, covered in Wisteria.
There are two paths, one near the beginning of the Pergola, and another at the end that lead to you down into the Shrub Garden.
The Italian Garden and reflecting pools will be to your left as you approach the South Terrace.
The Italian Garden at Biltmore contains three different reflecting pools, right next to Biltmore House. Each pool is full of floating lily pads, other aquatic plant-life, and of course Koi and Goldfish.
If you’re a photographer, the reflecting pools are a wonderful location to capture a classic shot of Biltmore House reflecting in the various pools. Kids love this area as well, and it gives them room to run around, explore, touch the water, and see the fish.
The Pergola by the South Terrace
The Pergola is a signature area of Biltmore, and recognizable in photos by most people that have visited the estate. In the spring, the Pergola is covered with the purple blooms of Wisteria. The scene is absolutely gorgeous. A flower lovers and photographer’s dream.
Hidden along the walkway under the Pergola, are small benches, ideal for sitting and enjoy the surrounding colors.
From the path below the Pergola, you can access the Shrub Gardens using two separate paths.
The two paths from the Pergola and Southern Terrace take you through the four-acre shrub garden, and down to the walled garden. There are a number of branches off the main paths, that will take you up and through the shrub garden. We would encourage you to explore them.
In the Shrub Garden, you’ll find many different types of trees and shrubs, many of them flowering. In fact, you’ll find over 500 different species. Popular trees and shrubs include:
- Azaleas of different colors
- The notable Golden Rain Tree and River Birch
- Japanese Maples
- Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
- Persian Parrotia
- and many many others!
One could literally spend hours here admiring the rare and perfectly pruned trees, and exploring all of the hidden gems located in this magnificent “strolling garden”.
From the Shrub Garden, head down the path towards the Conservatory (you can’t miss it), and soon you’ll reach stairs that head down into the Walled Garden. At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll need to cross a road.
Please be careful here. Cars leaving the Biltmore Parking area come through here on their way out.
The Walled Garden is just that, a walled, 4-acre formal garden with a long arbor going down the middle. Flower beds are featured in a “bedding out” style that was very popular in the 1800s.
The Beds themselves feature thousands of tulips in the spring, annuals in the summer, and mums in the fall. There are also themed areas in the garden that includes, “a Victorian border, winter border, scented border, butterfly garden and white border”.
The exquisite Rose Garden is located just past the Walled Garden and before the Conservatory. This garden contains more than 200 varieties of heirloom and hybrid roses, and about 1800 individual Rose plants. Most of these rose plants are descendants of the originals planted in the 1890s when Biltmore House opened.
The garden also features special rose displays with maypoles. You can also find various different types of roses undergoing trial in the garden as well.
The Rosarians that care for the world-class rose garden tend to the more than 200 species that are arranged in both French formal and English border designs. The Rose Garden has nearly every class of rose known, including cutting-edge varieties.
The large Conservatory is hard to miss and was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. The Conservatory was completed in 1895. You won’t want to miss out on exploring this unique building, and the abundant plant life inside.
This historic and original glass roof building houses exotic ferns, flowers, orchids, and palms. The Conservatory provides flowers and plants for the house, just as it did when the Vanderbilt family lived at Biltmore Estate.
As you enter the double doors, you’ll find yourself in the “Palm” house, with its tall ceiling to accommodate the large Palm plants. Inside you’ll also find the “Hot House”, the “Cool House”, and the “Orchid House”, along with other unique rooms.
Behind the Conservatory, you’ll find the Conservatory Cafe, a gift shop, and additional parking. The Conservatory Cafe is a great place to sit down, relax and enjoy the surrounding scenery.
The Spring Garden is located east of the Walled Garden and is sheltered and surrounded by a grove of white pines and hemlocks. The Spring Garden is full of an assortment of spring-blooming shrubs including:
- Mock orange
- and many others
There is a nice trail here called the “Spring Garden Trail” for those who enjoy a casual stroll through the gardens.
Just to the south of the Spring Garden, and east of the Conservatory is the Azalea Garden. While the Shrub Garden does have some Azaleas, the 15-acre Azalea Garden is where you’ll find the majority of Azaleas on the Estate. The Azalea Garden Path will take you directly through this beautiful, and somewhat hidden garden.
Prior to 1950, this area of the Estate was known as “the Glen”. In 1950, Azalea expert and collector Chauncey Beadle gave his entire collection of Azaleas to Biltmore. The more than 1000 Azalea plants were planted in “The Glen”, and Edith Biltmore renamed this area the “Azalea Garden”, to honor Beadle.
Today, some of the original plants, and many of the original types of plants grow in the Garden, in addition to many new and rare varieties. The Azalea Garden is in full bloom and alive with color towards the end of April each year.
If you follow the “Azalea Garden Path” south, you’ll reach the Biltmore Bass Pond. The Bass Pond is also accessible by car, and parking is available along one of the many pullover parking areas that are roadside. If you decide to walk to the Bass Pond, just be aware that getting there is downhill, but returning is uphill. While not a steep walk back, it can be a bit of a workout.
The Bass Pond is a significant Biltmore Estate water feature, created from a creek-fed millpond. The featured Boathouse was built so the Vanderbilts would have a peaceful, waterside retreat to rest in when visiting the gardens. When walking the garden path to the Bass Pond, you’ll know you’ve reached the Bass Pond when you see the boathouse.
Another feature of the Bass Pond is the arched brick bridge, which the road uses to cross the pond. This bridge was featured in the Hollywood film, The Last of the Mohicans.
At the Southern point of the Bass Pond is a bridge that crosses over the small dam and waterfall, built to form the bass pond. This is a popular and beautiful spot.
While not part of the official Biltmore Gardens, the fields near the Reception and Tickets Sales Center, during the month of April. Canola has also been planted in the past in the fields along the road to Antler Hill Village.
The Canola Fields are absolutely gorgeous and make for a stunning scene and wonderful photos. The Canola is also used to provide oil for Biltmore’s restaurants and is again used after frying, to make bio-diesel fuel used on the Estate as well.
At different increments during the summer, Biltmore plants Sun Flowers from June – September. These mile-long strips of Sunflower follow the road past the Lagoon to Antler Hill Village. The Estate plants multiple “waves” each year, and the Sun Flowers are simply gorgeous in the mountain terrain. This is definitely a site you’ll want to see and photograph.
If you bring your bike or enjoy walking, the walking and riding paths in this area, go right beside the Sun Flower Fields.
Tips for Visiting Biltmore Gardens
As frequent visitors to Biltmore Gardens for the past 30 years, here are our tips for visiting to make your visit more enjoyable:
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, especially in the summer when it can be hot
- When visiting in the Spring, visit early in the morning, and on weekdays. Biltmore Gardens are incredibly popular and busy during the spring. Remember, if you’re an Annual Pass Holder, you get in 30 minutes early.
- Bring your camera!
- If you plan to walk the garden paths, bring a small daypack with some water, or stock up on a few ice cold waters at one of refreshment stands. Bottled Water at Biltmore isn’t too expensive.
- Wear sunscreen, especially in the summer
- Purchase Annual Passes for the optimal deal – Annual Passes will allow you to visit the Gardens at any time, for a significantly discounted price.
Biltmore Gardens Map
Here is the official Biltmore Estate Garden Map, with all of the various gardens shown, along with the paths and trails.
>> See our Full 2018 Biltmore Visitor’s Guide for Ticket Information, Directions, and other great places to visit on Biltmore Estate.