The end of May my son and I did a road trip to South Carolina to visit my daughter in the Clemson area and celebrate my birthday. We did a day trip to Asheville, North Carolina and spent a pleasant day at the Biltmore Estate, admiring both the mansion and the magnificent gardens. Since the estate features a large working farm with an extensive kitchen garden display, I was hoping to tour that. Unfortunately, they decided it was too much work and discontinued it. But they still have an active vineyard, so as retaliation we spent a pleasant hour plus in the tasting room sampling every single one of their wines, which are very good.
The tour of the mansion did not allow photography inside so I have no pictures. But I do have a picture from the balcony in the back, looking out over the lawns to the distant mountains. What a view! I can just imagine myself in a lounge chair with a mint julep or a sweet tea, enjoying the mountain breezes on a warm summer afternoon.
After touring the mansion, we walked around the gardens. Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscape architect and he designed a magnificent setting for the mansion. The conservatory was the focus of many of the gardens.
Orchids were prominently displayed around the mansion and the greenhouses of the conservatory had many examples.
Next we toured the extensive grounds, walking through the walled (or Italian) garden.
Some of the water lilies and koi in the garden pools.
Next we walked up the hill to the gazebo sheltering the statue of Diana, the goddess of the hunt.
The picture is somewhat ruined by the large tent in the background. Understandable, since this is a popular spot for weddings. Just imagine your wedding under the gazebo with this for a view.
What a great day. We went back to Asheville and had dinner at the Lexington Avenue Brewery. Asheville is a hotbed of craft brewing and has spawned dozens of local breweries and brew pubs. Sierra Nevada has built a brewery in the area and New Belgium is building there as well. We got great seats right in the window where we could view the street scene while enjoying a couple of locally brewed frosties and some good food.
On Saturday afternoon we went to Greenville, SC for my birthday dinner. We spent a pleasant day on the Reedy river walk and found a nice place for cocktails. Then we staggered over to Soby’s for a delicious dinner. I did not get much gardening done that week but I had a great time.