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Orchid Attraction: Vanderbilt’s Striking Orchid Collection Bloom Once More At The Biltmore House

Orchid Obsession

If you’ve always been wanting to go to the Biltmore House, its lush orchid collection might just make you book you that flight to North Carolina. 

The Biltmore House

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The 250-room chateau is undeniably an architectural marvel owned by George Washington Vanderbilt II, a member of the affluent Vanderbilt clan who furthered his great fortune through his ventures with steamboats, railroads, and other businesses.

Dubbed as the largest dwelling in the country, the Biltmore House, which was completed in 1985, was inspired by a chateau in France’s Loire Valley. Designed by world-class landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the Biltmore House has acres and acres of sprawling formal and informal gardens, too.

 

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Soon after Mr. Vanderbilt’s sudden death in 1914, the estate was opened to the public. However, the Biltmore House, which attracts nearly 1.4 million visitors every year, remains privately held up to this day.

Biltmore’s Love Affair with Orchids

In the late 19th century, having your own conservatory and private plant collection was the talk of the town among rich estate owners in Europe and in the United States. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Vanderbilt wanted one, too. Jumping the bandwagon, he ordered the construction of the Biltmore Conservatory and listed down all the plants and flowers he wanted to own, including 800 orchid species.

In one of the wings in the opulent property’s 7,500-square-foot Victorian conservatory, exquisite orchids obtained from different parts of the globe are on display, including dendrobium orchids and lady’s slipper orchids from the Himalayas Mountains, oncidium orchids and cattleyas all the way from South America, and laelias from Mexico and Brazil.

Orchids At Biltmore Conservatory

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The estate’s resident orchid specialist, Mark Burchette, and his team worked painstakingly to stay true to Mr.Vanderbilt’s original orchid plans and specifications back in 1985.

A remarkable thing about the orchids at Biltmore is that Burchette was able to grow and propagate an abundant of orchid plants all year round, even during winter season. He has also grown multi-spiked vanda orchids, which hardly ever survives in the area, as well as thriving traditional cattleya hybrids, and summer-blooming phalaenopsis orchids. Sources say the orchid plants on display are regularly rotated, so guests only see the blooming in-season orchids.

As a bonus, aside from seeing their lovely orchid display, passionate orchid lovers can also sign up for a 45-minute orchid talk offered in the Conservatory Monday through Friday.

 



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