Brigette’s mom came to visit for a few days and when Brigette and her mom are together, they have one activity always planned: Biltmore Estate. This time, the goals were to check out what’s currently growing in the gardens and to take the rooftop tour, one of the specialty tours at the Estate. The afternoon started with a walk up the Vista, where the statue of Diana the Hunter overlooks the Estate:

The rooftop tour guide said Mr. Vanderbilt and his guests would ride their horses up to Diana before heading out for a hunt. The only hunting we were going to be doing was for inspiration for next year’s garden project at the Inn, so we headed down the Vista and took the long route to the Walled Garden. The Walled Garden was decked out in poppies and snapdragons (huge ones). We took a shot of the Walled Garden from one of the trails in the Spring Garden then headed to the rose garden.

The roses at Biltmore look spectacular right now. The garden has over 250 different kinds of roses, so if you like roses, make sure you check out Biltmore’s beautiful blooms. This was the afternoon favorite, a strawberry and vanilla swirl:

The next stop of the day was the rooftop tour. A guide led the group up and down 250 stairs, through the four guest rooms above the library that are set to open next year, and up onto the roof above the spiral staircase. The dome that holds the chandelier above the staircase is made of copper and surrounded by gargoyles, Gs and Vs (for George and Vanderbilt), acorns, and other detailed artwork that was hand carved in stone over 100 years ago. Amazing stuff to see up close.

I’d be making this face, too, if there was a dragon behind me…

Beautiful views:

The guide then led the group onto one of the second floor balconies. Now closed off to the general public, the shared balcony was for guests staying in some of the second floor guest rooms. Those were the rooms closest to Mr. Vanderbilt’s room, and the guide mentioned that the rooms were where his closest friends and family often stayed. Whoever those guests were, they must have been pretty special, because Mr. Vanderbilt shared with them the view that he also saw from his room. That view is what the guide called Mr. Vanderbilt’s back yard:

The final stop was at the Gardener’s Place behind the Conservatory. Since we’re just getting our gardens started, whenever Brigette goes to the Biltmore, she comes back with a few nursery plants. This time, it was a double bloom Hibiscus (new home — the dining Solarium), and three containers of violas, the same ones planted outside the entrance to the Estate.

On the drive out, we headed down the road to the Winery, taking a detour onto a gravel road to the left, which looped around for a nice farewell photo (until next time!).

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