Biltmore’s tulips are certainly a sight to see, albeit a fleeting one — they’re currently winding down a three- to four-week bloom. But spring is just getting started, and the estate promises an entire season of colorful blossoms, with one particularly showy shrub up next in the spotlight: the azalea.
In fact, at 15 acres, the Azalea Garden is the largest garden on the grounds. And it contains one of the country’s biggest selections of native azaleas, which reveal their delicate orange, yellow and pink flowers this month.
Originally known as the Glen, Edith Vanderbilt changed the garden’s name in 1940 in praise of its visionary creator, Chauncey Beadle. Frederick Law Olmsted hired Beadle in 1890 for his encyclopedic knowledge of plants, including a true fondness for and understanding of native deciduous azaleas. Beadle — who served as estate superintendent beginning in 1909 until his death in 1950 — traveled throughout the Southeast collecting what he called “the finest American shrubs” in nearly every form and color. On his 50th anniversary with Biltmore, Beadle gave the estate his entire collection of azaleas, planting them in the valley below the Conservatory that Vanderbilt deemed henceforth labeled in his honor.
Since then, Biltmore’s gardeners have kept Beadle’s legacy alive through the Azalea Garden. They continuously research and collect additional azaleas for the space, and in 2012, they replanted several hundred — mostly evergreens — at the garden’s entrance, also adding more than 400 shrubs throughout the acreage.
These historic, colorful blossoms will remain throughout May. Find a detailed bloom report at biltmore.com/bloomreport.