Sunday, May 12, 2013

Biltmore Gardens

The grounds of the Biltmore were as impressive as the house itself.

Wanting the best, Vanderbilt employed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds, with the immediate gardens in the Garden à la française style, beyond those in the English Landscape garden style. Beyond these were the natural woodlands and agricultural lands with the intentionally rustic three-mile approach road passing through.

Gifford Pinchot and later Carl A. Schenck were hired to manage the forests, with Schenck establishing the first forestry education program in the U.S., the Biltmore Forest School, on the estate grounds in 1898.

Intending that the estate could be self-supporting, Vanderbilt set up scientific forestry programs, poultry farms, cattle farms, hog farms and a dairy. His wife, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, also enthusiastically supported agricultural reform and promoted the establishment of a state agricultural fair.

The Vanderbilts invited family and friends from across the country to the opulent estate. Notable guests to the estate over the years have included author Edith Wharton, novelist Henry James, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, and Presidents McKinley, T. Roosevelt, and Wilson.

Vanderbilt paid little attention to the family business or his own investments, and it is believed that the construction and upkeep of Biltmore depleted much of his inheritance. After Vanderbilt died in 1914 of complications from an emergency appendectomy, his widow, Edith Vanderbilt, completed the sale of 85,000 of the original 125,000 acres

to the federal government. This was to carry out her husband's wish that the land remain unaltered, and that property became the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest.

If you find yourself in the area the Biltmore is worthy of a visit!


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