Asheville's Historic Biltmore Estate Is in Peak Sunflower Season — See the Stunning Photos
The Blue Ridge Mountains have a different pop of color this time of year. The sunflowers at the Biltmore, George Vanderbilt's 8,000-acre estate, are currently in peak bloom, lining the nearly mile-long road from the property's Biltmore House to Antler Hill Village and the Winery with flowers as high as eight feet.
While summer is sunflower season at the Biltmore, the plants are now in their first peak bloom period (which usually lasts about 10 days) from the 105,000 seeds that were planted earlier this year. There will be a second peak around Labor Day from the second planting of 75,000 seeds that took place in the first week of July.
"This is an amazing way to showcase the beautiful agriculture legacy of Biltmore to our guests," Kyle Mayberry, the Biltmore's director of agriculture, said in a statement. His team splits the plantings in two phases to lengthen the period that guests can catch them in full bloom. Mayberry estimates that about 144,000 plants will likely sprout in the patch this season.
Access to the sunflowers is included with admission to the Biltmore, which ranges from $55 to $75 this summer, depending on the day. Guests can access more than 75 acres of gardens and more than 20 miles of hiking, biking, and walking trails, as well as Antler Hill Village and the Winery (including free wine tastings). To get inside the Biltmore House and Gardens, admission ranges from $76 to $96, including an audio guide. The admission gate is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but the winery, restaurants, and attractions remain open later.
The Biltmore is the nation's largest privately owned home, with 250 rooms — including 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and three kitchens — that cover four acres of floor space. Built by Vanderbilt from 1889 to 1895, the French Renaissance château was open to the public in 1930. The adjacent gardens were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who is also behind New York City's Central Park. Even back in 1895, the Biltmore was known for its sustainable land use practices and is often referred to as the birthplace of American forestry.