LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS
Monday, June 2, 2014
The house itself and the outdoor gardens at the Biltmore Estate are so enticing that people sometimes fail to visit the greenhouse bordering the walled gardens. And they miss a wonderful sight.
The 7,500 square-foot greenhouse, with its forty-foot high glass ceilings is a sight to behold. There are many varieties of exotic plants there, but we were particularly interested in seeing the orchids. The initial order for orchids in 1895 was for 800. Today the greenhouse is home to far more than that, each one more lovely than the one before. I did not write the names of any of the orchids, simply admired them and grabbed a quick photograph of a few.
The ferns, palms, and other exotic plants making up the very first order for the greenhouse cost $1,600.00, quite a fortune in 1895.
The 12,000 square-foot basement underneath houses the heating system for maintaining the tropical warmth of the greenhouse. The boiler fed heating system originally used coal and was manned round the clock to hand stoke the furnaces. The system now uses natural gas.
The greenhouse is a perfect winter respite when the weather is cold and dreary. It is pleasant in summer as well albeit a bit humid as one might expect.
This orchid blossoms into insect-appearing blooms. Fascinating. (You may want to click to enlarge)
And what could make a visit in the greenhouse with these showy plants appear even more lovely? A soloist playing beautiful music. Her wonderful performance echoed throughout the greenhouse. What a treat.