One case in point is the beautiful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina–most specifically the gardens there. I could live in the conservatory. No, really. I could. Well, if it had a refrigerator. And a hotplate, at least. And maybe a pillow. But it is, for me, the most appealing place on the estate. (A sure second would be the solarium inside–if I’d ever lived in the house, I could have spent most of my time right there taking in the sun through the overhead glass, surrounded by tropical plants.)
We’ve visited in the summer before, and there are beautiful rose and azalea gardens and layouts fashioned on international themes, such as the Italian Garden, or seasonal gardens like the tulip extravaganza. But for me, there’s something special about the hothouse blooms.
I imagined my grandmother would have had a grand old time here. Some of her favorite plants around the Indiana farm where she lived had come from her travels around the country. She’d proudly tell us about her visits to Washington or Chicago and how she just had to “tie her shoe” right next to a plant that she really admired. Lo and behold, a little clipping would end up in her jacket pocket for her to take home and propagate. Awesome!
One room in particular features orchids of every shape and size. Cattleyas, dendrobium, phalaenopsis and so many more delight the visitor at every angle. I was traveling with our exchange student Yurie, and we both fell in love with these odd little blooms (below) that looked like dwarf faces with beards:
The site has inspired me so much, of course, that I’ve included it as a setting for a scene in one of my books, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE (written as Alana Lorens). I’d gladly go back and visit any time, and I’m fortunate that my daughter and her fiancee work for the Biltmore company so we have a reason to go there a few times a year.
I highly recommend it if you get a chance. Just take a seat in the large open greenhouse and breath deeply, taking in the scent and sight of the beautiful plants around you. I guarantee it will inspire you, too!