The grand Conservatory in the heart of Biltmore’s Walled Garden is an architectural treasure designed by Biltmore House architect Richard Morris Hunt. It was built in 1895 to provide the house and the gardens with flowers and tender bedding plants. More than a century later, it still does. Transport yourself into a tropical jungle of ferns, palm trees and plenty of exotic blooms.
The Conservatory a must stop during your Biltmore visit (see our Biltmore Guide). You can either walk from the house or drive and park adjacent to it along the main road through the estate. Stroll through the tropical wonderland with elaborate seasonal displays. From the Walled Garden, step through the double doors into the Palm House with its glass roof that rises 38 feet high to accommodate the towering palms.
Carefully placed at the lower end of the garden, so as not to obstruct the view from Biltmore House, the Conservatory consists of four main rooms. In addition to the Palm House, the annexes include a cool house, hot house and orchid house. The total heated space under glass in the Conservatory is over 7,000 square feet, making it a wonderful exotic escape especially in the winter.
In the Hot House, discover plants that originate in tropical climes, perfect for houseplants. Here, find much larger sizes than you’d ever typically see. The Cool House hosts subtropics plants.
The favorite of many is the Orchid Room filled with both recognizable and unusual, from the corsage and lady slipper varieties to more rare ones.
The Conservatory was originally heated using a system that forced hot water through cast iron pipes placed under the plant benches. See many plants that George Vanderbilt and Frederick Law Olmsted ordered for the collection.
During Vanderbilt’s lifetime, the Conservatory began providing plants and flowers to All Souls church in Biltmore Village. The tradition started in 1897 with a gift of palms for Palm Sunday and continued with flowers on holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The tradition still continues today as a sign of Vanderbilt’s lasting legacy.