Is That a Bear at the Biltmore?

This is where we were headed, but I am going to show you how we got there. Like I said, so many have been posting fine images of our garden visits and I want to give you a peek How I See It, to the entry through the three-mile long Approach Road to the Biltmore Estate above.

This is one of the maps that was given to us upon arrival. It is an architectural site rendering of the property, much like I might do if I was there during the design phase.

This map shows the 3 mile Approach Road into the Estate. We rode our school buses along this route.

The grounds are beautiful, both the formal and the natural. So let’s see how we get there.

That is the first bus of garden Flingers up ahead. These images, except those of the Lagoon, are taken from a moving bus, so excuse any blur.

We pass the native Rhododendrons in full bloom.

We spy a pair of frisky turkeys.

A Bass Pond comes into view.

This is the Lagoon that we approached by foot. It is much clearer than the Bass Pond, but it has rained the night before and the water was a bit stirred up. I just thought you would like to see the contrast of the more natural to the highly designed.

The Lagoon has architectural features with bridges and an observation pavilion.

The Lagoon has Bass too, seen from the bridge above. I am betting this portion of the lagoon was designed shallow at this point to take advantage of viewing the fish. It would be advantageous for children fishing off the bridge too. They could see the fish take the bait. This would have been a likely design consideration since this area is only mere inches deep.

At the Lagoon, the plantings are more refined than at the Bass Pond.

Lagoon shore

Back to the bus ride. What other creatures can we see in the woods?

Now when we were riding through the wooded areas on the bus, our guide mentioned that there was a momma bear with two cubs roaming about. I was snapping away and this is what I saw. In the distance on the left, does this look like a baby bear? There is another one just out of sight to the left of the one that looks visible.

Am I seeing things? I zoomed in and it really looks like a blurry bear cub. I sharpened the little guy too, but it is hard to tell what it is. It looks like two front legs, a head with ears. Plus there is the dark blob just out of view. Now is that a lucky shot or am I seeing things?

We passed under viaducts that had a story. Our guide said that Frederick Law Olmsted did not want built structures seen in the natural areas and had ivy brought in to cover the beautiful stonework. I am going to have to investigate if he was a stickler at Niagara Falls State Park, another of his designs. I will be on the look out for ivy next walk that I take there.

It ended up covering tree trunks as well.

There is quite a mix of deciduous and conifer trees in this forest.

And, a good design trick… clearings dotting the path of travel.

This is the exit road, but still on the property as we are leaving. What a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the far off distance.

I want to thank the Biltmore for all that they did for us Flingers. They went over and above with their kind generosity. I sat with two of the women from the Biltmore for our dinner at the Masonic Temple. I believe they promote and represent the facility, but I did not ask what their association was to the Biltmore. I know now what Katie and Suzi do. I was close, so here is their website. All you folks wanting to create gardening buzz on your product, this is the place to go. Garden Media Group

They were a blast to dine with, both funny and witty. Our table was in constant humor, everybody laughing and merry. And there was no alcohol either, straight sober fun.

Our table also included a young representative, Ryan,Β  from Botanical Interests. His father was a Mason and you can just imagine the conversation that we were having, being in a Masonic temple, with the stairs lined with portraits of famous and straight-laced elderly Masons. A walk to the ladies room was an eerie adventure with those eyes of the forbearersΒ following your every move. And remember, we were sober, no less. It was spooky. I should have brought my camera. Who knows, maybe a lucky catch of one haunting the stairs to go with my imaginary bear family above.

Ryan’s company also was very generous as a sponsor to the event, providing a box lunch and also a wealth of seed packets to plant in our gardens, among many other fine things they did for us.Β  I have included his card for those of you wanting to take advantage of his heirloom and organic seeds. I love the colorful illustrations on the packaging. Here is the link to their website.

Leave a comment and let me know if you think that was a Bear Cub in my image or a Fallen Tree. Yes gets a πŸ˜€ and no gets a πŸ˜₯

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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47 Responses to Is That a Bear at the Biltmore?

  1. What a wonderful estate! And yes, I think that was a bear!!

  2. Looks like a bear to me…I have always wanted to visit the Biltmore so I am sad I missed it…love Botanical Interests seeds.

  3. Vicki Bruning says:

    I want to believe that it’s a bear. Beautiful photos made me feel a part of the tour. Thanks for taking me along with you via GWGT

  4. From a moving bus? You’ve got to be kidding!

  5. jakesprinter says:

    This photography is what i missed here πŸ™‚

  6. Andrea says:

    Donna, thanks for the tour, the photos are great even if taken from a moving bus. I laughed at your mention of getting some ghost figures, you should always hang it on your neck, haha! I am sure you still have lots of amusing photos taken there, maybe you just lack time to post them still.

  7. Donna it sounds like a lovely place and wonderful visit, something to grow as well which will prolong the memory, Frances

    • It was a beautiful place, Frances. I have been reading at least two posts that questioned the large expanse of grass and the formal gardens. What they did not consider was the time in which this building was constructed and the historical significance of the era to have the formal gardens designed as such. FLO most likely was following the wishes of the Vanderbilts, something I do also when designing for estates. I have gone against my own design sense many times. Also, this property has many true natural areas and those designed in a way sensitive to nature. There is always is a reason when a professional designs and sure it does not always appease our own sensibilities or environmental ethics.

  8. Can you believe I’ve never visited the Biltmore and it is only a few hours away? Shame on me! I am going to go with a bear (Yikes!). I like happening upon wild turkey. They are really cool to watch. I love reading about all the mingling and people at the fling. I am glad this evening was more upbeat and fun than your last post…I read through all the comments and it was a little depressing and frankly made me think of not attending a future fling. I have always found gardeners to be such a friendly group but it sounded to me like there were some clicks and frankly very HS drama going on that I have no interest in. Shame on those few people who are so unwelcoming.

    • I said the same thing to folks when I visited Chanticleer. I actually apologized for not seeing because I was in the field of landscape design. Often when something is in your backyard you dismiss it. It is the same at the Falls. I am always surprised how many have seen so few places here. Almost the whole event was wonderful. We left one place early because some thought we were spending too much time there. It is really hard to satisfy everyone I guess. I can find things to interest me everywhere, it just takes a little exploration. Do go when it is in Charleston. Next is San Fran – they discussed. I really think a lot of the negative discussion was centered around how many people attended. A little overwhelming for many. I found the gardeners friendly for sure, it was when they were bloggers…. no, I am kidding.
      πŸ™‚ Bear cub 4
      Fallen Tree 0

  9. Ok, I am going with it being a bear cub, why not? Good shot of the turkeys too. I thought about getting my camera out as we passed by them….a little late. Love the trout in the stream.

  10. I’ll go for bear. Why not? Your photos are wonderful (as usual) and of course you did your research to write your blog post. You’re so good! The women at the table were Suzi McCoy, and her daughter Katie, of Garden Media Group. They do marketing and PR for a variety of lawn & garden-oriented clients, including some work for the Biltmore.

    • Thanks Jim for noting Suzi’s role for the Biltmore. I did remember her first name, but not much more.Thanks for the bear vote. I am still not sure if it was just a well positioned log.

      πŸ˜€ Bear Cub 7
      Fallen Tree 1

  11. I guess I am the only pessimist so far and have to go with log not bear, and I was sitting next to you on the bus! I called in Michael for a consult and he pointed out that bears have huge shoulders and legs, not “little tyrannosuarus rex feet”—that’s a quote from him. The Biltmore was amazing when viewed for what it was—an historically accurate period garden, and they couldn’t have been more welcoming to our group with free admssion, a guided tour of the approach road, a champagne reception, and free gifts. They have over 40 historians on their staff so they know what they are doing—-well worth a visit, especially the natural areas which you and I explored throughly. Katie and Susan from Garden Media Group and Ryan from Botanical Interests were so hysterically funny during our dinner on Saturday. I couldn’t have asked for better tablemates—one of the highlights of the fling. I had such a great time that I can’t wait for the San Francisco fling (if I can afford it).

    • Thanks Carolyn and Micheal. That was what bothered me about the bear too. Even as a cub I thought it would be beefier. Thanks too for noting all that the Biltmore did for our group. I forgot about the champagne reception since we missed it, but they really did treat us royally.

      πŸ˜₯ Bear Cub 6

      :mrgreen: Fallen Tree 1

  12. tina@inthegarden says:

    It looks more like a log to me Donna. Ryan was so nice and so lively and enthusiastic. I posted about his team on my blog this morning as it was a great team from Botanical Interests. What a great bunch of goodies too! I haven’t even had time to unpack mine but must get to it soon. Today is a garden day as a tour is coming through Saturday. I’m stressed but it will work itself out. I could not read that first map at all other than the scale. I liked the second one much better. Your explanation of it all is really nice.

  13. Indie says:

    That looks like a bear cub to me!
    Living in North Carolina, I really want to visit Biltmore sometime when the gardens are blooming. I’ve been there once at Christmas time. The house/castle was beautiful and the history was fascinating, but the gardens looked very brown.

    • I did not get a chance to go inside the residence and I really regret that. I can imagine the display they put on at Christmas. The grounds were wonderful. Thanks for a vote of bear cub. I am still tossed on it being a baby bear, but it would be nice if it actually was.

      πŸ˜€ Bear Cub 9
      Fallen Tree 2

  14. Bom says:

    Looks like a bear but isn’t it a bit thin for a bear so maybe it is really a bear cub? Don’t count my (nonsense) vote though. I don’t have much exposure to bears except in movies and the occasional zoo visit abroad.

    • You had my initial reaction too. I kept looking and looking. Bear, log, bear, log, then finally I gave up and posted so others might judge. The image came about because the guide mentioned the bear, after seeing the turkeys, and I just set my camera to a fast shutter speed and started snapping. Not framing an image (except the turkeys, I saw them in time), just snapping. It was right after her comment that I got this image too. When I looked back at the images on the computer is where I saw it, just after the turkey shots and when she mentioned it. It probably is a log, but I have a couple rapid sequences shots of it and it does not appeared to have moved. But that does not mean much either, because it all happened in the time of one second. My camera shoots a six frames per second, so that did not help much in my determination either. Thanks for at least pondering it, Bom.

  15. HolleyGarden says:

    I have been to Biltmore a couple of times, but that was years before I became interested in gardening. I would love to go back again, this time to get a different perspective on the grounds. I would love to tell you I think that’s a bear, but I honestly don’t think it is. So sorry!

    • I think you would like the rose garden, it was very typical of the era and I myself can just picture the gardeners going around, pruning and shaping the roses. I did get some pretty photos of some roses, but did not recognize some varieties. All to be expected because roses are a lot of work in our area with Japanese Beetles and black spot. The aphids love them to pieces too. No problem on the bear. I am just seeing if bear defeats log! Log is gaining.

      πŸ˜₯ Bear Cub 9

      :mrgreen: Fallen Tree 3

  16. cathywieder says:

    One of our favorite places to visit – when our son was in school in the area, we were members and stayed at the hotel on the Biltmore grounds when we went to visit. We have several paintings that we acquired there of different scenes on the grounds….. a place so very dear to our hearts!

    • I would have loved to stay at The Inn at Biltmore and would have gladly paid the additional fee. Where we stayed was most likely very centrally located to all our activities, like shopping, restaurants and bars, which was very convenient. Another hotel, the Marriot was right across from where we were staying.

      I never did make it over to The Inn at Biltmore, the Antler Hill Village, or the Deerpark. We did not have enough time to walk all that way. I would have surely seen the house interior if we would have had more time. I really did not want to miss that tour. There must be many fine schools in this area because I have heard of two more bloggers with children attending schools in NC.

  17. GirlSprout says:

    I purchased some Botanical Interest seeds this year at a local nursery. I’ll have to agree with Carolyn. It looks like a log. It’s kind of rigid. The photos of the lagoon look so tranquil.

    • I am glad to see Botanical Interest seeds are being purchased. Their representative team were a great group of people. They company was very generous and I would recommend them highly for their fine product. I am going to see if they are sold locally and if not let the nursery owners know. I do now one high end independent nursery that carries them I think. The log is gaining.

      πŸ˜₯ Bear Cub 9

      :mrgreen: Vote for another Log 4

  18. b-a-g says:

    I certainly wouldn’t want to get in the way of two frisky turkeys. I didn’t realise that they do the peacock thing with their tails.

  19. Marguerite says:

    What luck! looks like you captured a bear to my eye. Imagine covering up all that gorgeous stonework with invasive ivy, I could only think of the damage it was doing to those trees when I saw these pictures.

    • Thanks, it has a bear look, even if it is a log. We were moving in the bus and that blurred the bear a bit. I sharpened it and maybe that is why some think it rigid. Sharpening it brought out the ears and legs, but also made it look stiff and thinner. The bear is pulling ahead!

      πŸ˜€ Bear Cub 11

      Fallen Tree 4

  20. Karen says:

    I think you got a very luck shot of a bear cub. Would the ivy be considered an invasive species by todays standards as you showed it covering trees?

    • It is considered invasive. English Ivy can strangle plants and it grows very fast. Thanks for voting for the bear, Karen.The bear is really gaining ground.

      πŸ˜€ Bear Cub 12
      Fallen Tree 4

      • Karen says:

        I thought so. Sometimes things have been planted with the purpose of not interfering with nature but the result does just the opposite.

  21. Katie says:

    BEAR FOR SURE!!!!!!! Trees dont have noses πŸ˜‰
    So honored to be mentioned in the post! Great recap of the day!

    • Thank you much Katie. I so enjoyed your company at our table. I was glad Jim and Carolyn wrote in because I only could remember both your first name and that of your mother. You two were the best, and the Biltmore was so generous to our group.

      πŸ˜€ Bear Cub 13

      Fallen Tree 4

  22. Suzi McCoy says:

    Your post is so descriptive. You really captured everything, including the wild turkeys! My daught Katie Dubow and I were sitting with you at the fun table at the Masonic Lodge Blogger Fling dinner. Your blog is great.

  23. Thanks for the many views, Donna. I have been to the Biltmore estate twice, but only saw the house and grounds around the house (and, of course, those incredible Blue Ridge vistas). You revealed much more of the landscape.

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