Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Asheville, Day 3 - Part 2

So, after our little break during the rain, we headed over to the Shrub Garden to continue our Chihuly viewing.  Red reeds, this time.  It was a little too muddy to venture too close, but they make for a nice addition to the space...

Next up was the Walled Garden, and as you approached, there were two more beauties to see!

It takes a pretty special plant to distract me from Chihuly...but how gorgeous is this coleus?  It was all around nearby and I couldn't stop staring at it.

Towers are really one of my favorites, and this one was quite vibrant!

I love the clear pieces in this one, particularly the ones that are half clear, half colored.  They made for a nice contrast and really picked up the natural daylight so well.

Nature was apparently still cooperating with me as I saw this moth hanging out on a single piece of glass...

Over on the other side was this beauty...and notice the stately wall in the background, too.

Just past the towers was the rose garden.  Most of them were pretty spent, but there were still some beauties, in every color.  Bonus points for rain drops!

Closer to the conservatory was this...
From the side

From the front
I found this one really hard to do justice in photos, but I think this is close.

So gorgeous...

Inside the Conservatory reminded me of my trip to Pittsburgh, as much of that exhibit was in a very similar type of space.  We were greeted with interesting flowers from the get-go.

But still more Chihuly - there were three of these in the main room.  With the bright background they were tough to capture, but here's my attempt...

So much color and texture in this one...quite a lot of stuff in a smaller package!
I could post dozens of pictures of cool flowers.  There were so many! 
Pitcher plant - a carnivorous plant

I thought my camera had a hard time capturing the vibrancy of these gorgeous orchids, but I think it depends on the screen.  They were such a vibrant purple, rather than bluish.

I dubbed this one the cross between a daffodil and an pretty!

The spots on these were so fun!
I don't even know how to describe this one.  Those leaves were actually some sort of pod that appeared to have, at one point, something growing out of it.  I have no idea what it is, but it was cool.

A little piece of Hawaii

Passion interesting, isn't it?
Nature never ceases to fascinate me.  God's creativity--or maybe his sense of humor--is so amazing.  Speaking of amazing, how about one more?

The Conservatory was so pretty.  The flowers were enchanting and the Chihuly pieces were just the icing on the cake.  We finished off the afternoon session with a walk around the lovely Garden Shop.  We were all tempted to buy cool Chihuly-inspired garden d├ęcor, and there were so many other cool gifts to ponder.  Alas, my carry-ons were already going to be struggling!  After a long shop, we headed off the property and into nearby Biltmore Village to grab some dinner at a restaurant built in an old train station that was built to service the Biltmore Estate.  Another rain shower hit while we ate, and we hoped it would clear in time for Chihuly Nights.  We didn't entirely get our wish, but it didn't stop us from enjoying our night!  Stay tuned for the fabulous finale!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Asheville, Day 3 - Part 1

Finally Thursday arrived, the day I'd really been waiting for!  The whole trip was great, honestly, for so many reasons.  But in my book it's always tough to beat Chihuly.  There is just something about it.  The colors.  The artistry.  The shapes.  The settings.  Everything he does is done so well, and it makes my closet artist (the one who loves art but sucks at it in real life) burst at the seams.  It's just so beautiful, every time.  And to put it in a place like Biltmore that's already so beautiful?  Well...that was just over the top!  Hence about 400 photos that day among over 500 for the whole trip!  Cutting them down for posting here was very hard, but it looks like you'll get three posts from that one day so I can include all of the ones I like best!

Ironically, the first picture isn't my own.  My uncle took it of my mom and me in front of the first piece we saw...
Photo credit: Uncle Arsene
Doesn't get much more regal than that.  It was stunning in the sunlight.  I'm so used to seeing pieces indoors, even if they're lit for an exhibit, and I had no idea how the sun would enhance it.  Even the outdoor pieces I saw in Pittsburgh were under cloudy skies, so the gorgeous weather on this day was an unexpected bonus. 

Look how shiny it is! pretty.
The mansion was truly impressive.  It's so huge and ornate.  Normally just the house would be enough of a draw, but clearly we had bigger fish to fry that day and this would be a nice accompaniment.

I have no idea why they'd have chosen to build there...none at all ;-)
We headed down to the Italian Garden, and it was a sight to behold.  Not just the glass, but the flora and fauna were great as well!  Check out this fish!

And the water lilies in the fountains were stunning.  You'll start to notice a theme here.

The float boat was so gorgeous in the sun.  The colors were so vivid!

Even the standalone floats were so pretty.  In with the water lilies, it was perfect.

Every set of lily pads had a different colored flower, and those were stunning in their own right!

How about these lily pads (or what we assume were just a different variety).  It almost makes you want to put something on there, like it's a tray. (Or maybe I envisioned something landing on them and them snapping shut to eat either way.)

Who knew something totally in white could be so eye-catching?

I've seen reeds like this at almost every exhibit I've seen, but the way they're used always makes them end up more interesting than you'd think for a bunch of straight pieces.  And yes, those green ones in front were amazing because of their metallics.  We all agreed they looked a bit like some large Christmas tree ornaments, but obviously way better!

The fiori boat was stunning.  I really need to zoom in on the many angles of all the photos to appreciate all of the different shapes.

Look at those colors!
And one more for good measure...

Off to the Pergola we went, and the view down there was stunning.

Many of the fiori looked like the shapes above, but these were really cool with their stripes.

These lime green and black ones were almost serpent-like.

These blue ones have little finger-like extensions on top, almost like a little splash.

Back at the house, we saw another display outside the front windows.

Just inside the gorgeous front doors was another display, this one in the Winter Garden.  There were so many pieces to look at here.

One of my favorite things was that all of the white pieces had little sea creatures on top.  Check out the shell and the little jellyfish (I think) in this one.

One of the most impressive rooms in the house was the main dining room.  From the pipe organ... the table and tapestries... the giant triple fireplace...

It was stunning.  As was every other room in the house.  The elaborate wood ceilings, the fancy furniture, and endless attention to was everywhere.  One of my favorite rooms was the library, with wall-to-wall books on two floors.  We almost missed it, but check out the pretty spiral staircase up to the second floor.

This multi-tier chandelier was so cool.

The two-lane bowling alley was cool, as was the old-school gym (wooden hand weights?!), but I wanted to share another cool spot, one that my dad said was his favorite part of the tour when he went on it earlier this year--the pool!

I could share countless photos from the house tour, but we'd never move on to the rest of the good stuff!  Suffice it to say that the Vanderbilts spent a lot of money on everything and appear to have been very well traveled.  It was gorgeous.

After a couple hours of walking, we headed out into the courtyard near the former stables and sat down for a snack just in time for the skies to open.  Luckily we were covered!  We seemed to have a lot of mid-afternoon rainstorms while we were there, but they never cramped our style!  It was a nice excuse for a little rest before some shopping (food samples and souvenirs...yay!) and then it was on to our next round of amazingness...