The Flowers of Biltmore Estate, Re-visited (Flower Power Series 2)

Remember when I said in my previous post that we have been to the Biltmore three times?

Well, every time we go, there are ALWAYS flowers, everywhere. So, this is part 2. They are just simply too beautiful not to go unnoticed by my creative spirit.

It takes about 8 minutes to get to the main house from the parking lot where you will see among others a fish and a lion standing guard. Inside the house, you can take a self guided tour with or without audio. I recommend taking the audio tour, for an extra fee, because it will give you a detailed explanation (and more) and walk you through the mansion’s different chambers. There are also guided tours available. However, photography is not allowed inside the main house.

But let’s backtrack a little bit, on the way to Asheville, on one of our rest stops, I spot a little patch of yellow flowers. Snap! Aren’t they just happy?

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Then we move along to the Biltmore gardens once again where it is teeming with numerous blooms and plants. Such a varied display of floral opulence and grandeur, much like the house itself.

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”

~Henri Matisse~

The Flowers of Biltmore Estate (Flower Power Series 1)

Because its Spring and I realized that I just hit my 200th friend on my blog ~ yay! ~ (follower just sounds plain weird and stalker-like), I am celebrating with a series of flower power posts. Over the years in the course of our travels, I have amassed quite a number of flower photos and what better way to feature them than on my blog.

The flower photos were taken at the gardens of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore is America’s largest privately owned home, built by George Vanderbilt in the 1800s. It has 250 rooms total, 35 of which were bedrooms and 43 bathrooms! The landscaped gardens alone cover 75 acres. It was a self sufficient working estate. To this day, thousands of visitors come to see this amazing home and marvel at its grandness and opulence. It is one of the most prominent examples of the Gilded Age.

My hubby and I have visited this place three times and each time we go back, there is always something new. Different seasons call for different landscaping, different plants and flowers. The richness of its history and seeing everything so beautifully and intricately made just blows your mind away.

Flowers may be a common photography subject, but they are beautiful, colorful and visually pleasing. And, they just brighten up my day!

I hope they too, brighten yours.

Cranbury Park in Spring: A Photo Essay

The weather was just right and the sun was out today so I decided to go hiking. Time to step out of the house and enjoy the sun and the breeze. I need this exercise. Not just for my physical well being but for my spiritual, mental and emotional health as well. Being with nature always soothes my soul and calms my frazzled nerves. I brought my big camera along too so that I can practice on my photography. Here is a collection of shots from my two hour nature walk.

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Gallaher mansion from the back
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I could sit for hours here
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I could be wrong but from the quick google search that I did, this appears to be a flowering pear tree
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Up close practicing on my bokeh
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So nice to see not that many people this time
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A hole in the tree
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Lonely bench
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There is just something about white picket fences that make for good photo subjects
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A playground sits to the left (unseen here) with a few moms and their kids hanging out
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The historic Gallaher Mansion completed in 1931 is a classic example of the Tudor revival style of architecture
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Discovered this cottage hidden amongst these yellow bushy flowers
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Forsythia blooms
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The rest of the park looked bleak and dreary
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No greens for these trees yet
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So why did they have to vandalize this tree?
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Lichen on a fallen trunk
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This trail stretches for 1.3 miles
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Stone fence
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The big rock in the park where I stopped to rest, drink and take a selfie
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The long and winding trail that I took
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Interesting what you can notice up close
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Pretty little yellow weed flowers
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The Tea House
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More bokeh
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No idea what these red flowers are
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The formal garden

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Week Eight: The Day I Walked 40 Blocks

It was a beautiful and sunny 60’s that day. Perfect day to go visit The City again. This time, I planned on seeing The Met (aka the Metropolitan Museum of Art). I’ve been to New York many times and have never been there. The last time, we were finally at the musuem steps, they were closed for the day for a private affair! So now I HAVE to come back.

Being the anal person that I am, of course, I had to look it up the day before I intended to visit. I would take the Metro-North train to Grand Central which was on the 42nd street. The Met was on the 82nd, in Central Park. My friend helped me plan my itinerary and I thought I heard her say “you can walk to Central Park, it is a beautiful day anyway.”

So here I was standing in the midst of the busy-ness that is the Grand Central (after my misadventures in trying to locate the South Norwalk Station and where to park but that will be another blog post for another day) when I realized I never had a picture of it. I took a couple of mobile phone shots together with hundreds of other people doing the same. Finding an Apple Store inside quite surprised me but then again, they are as ubiquitous now as McDonald’s. The hordes of people milling about and passing through, tourists and locals alike doing their own business make this a very interesting place to people watch. If I had the time, I would just pick a spot somewhere and just sit and observe. Give me a good book and a fully charged phone and I am good. The noise does not bother me at all as I can easily tune out and zone out too. But I had other pressing matters at hand so I hurriedly left.

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Walking the first few blocks was enjoyable and exhilarating. I was soaking up the city’s sights and sounds. Spring was everywhere, the trees and flowers, interspersed in between concrete buildings and establishments.

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About halfway into my walk, my feet felt achy and my stomach was grumbling. I remembered I only had a banana for breakfast thinking that I would eat good at one of the museum’s restaurants. So, I decided to ignore it and go on. My pace was a tad slower this time and I felt hot from exertion. I couldn’t remove my spring jacket because I don’t want to be carrying it around as I walked. And besides, I looked fashionable, close enough to pass as a local. Thoughts of hailing a cab kept on popping up but I didn’t listen thinking that I can do this. And besides, I’m almost there. To take a cab would be to wait forever to find one and then go take a circuitous route to get to my destination with all the one way streets, not to mention, the traffic. I trudge on. This time, my feet really hurt and I felt the pangs of hypoglycemia creeping in. 70th street, 72nd street… almost there…. will you just stop to rest for awhile? No, the stubborn me insisted on walking. If I pass out on the street, will these people help me? Just buy water please… I stopped to buy bottled water from one of those food trucks lining up Central Park and the bottle looked like it was from 1980 (okay, I’m exaggerating here but you get what I mean). I hope I don’t get diarrhea from this. I was just too dehydrated. After a few big gulps, that got me going and gave me a little bit of strength to continue my trek. I was thinking about what my friend said the other night, hmm… she must be joking when she told me to walk. 80th street… 82nd street…. finally!!!

I made a quick beeline to one of the side entrances, which I found out wasn’t the grand entrance anyway with the steps, because they had it covered with some kind of construction going on in the sidewalk. I was just too hungry and tired to care. Museum tip: when you look it up online, it says admission is $25 but in actuality it is only a recommendation. You can give whatever amount you want, from $1 to $25. I paid $10. I ask for the nearest restaurant and believe me, in the state that I was in, I was ready to pay whatever just to get a good meal. “You have to go to the very end of the galleries then make a right then go down, the cafeteria should be on your left” Any other restaurants? There was one “closer” but not a lot of choices. OMG. To locate the cafeteria was like being in a maze. I breezed through most of the galleries not even bothering to look at the art, took a few wrong turns, asked a few museum staff, until finally I get to the basement. This was where the food was at? I was expecting big open windows or glass doors with outside seating. No, it was like a hospital cafeteria located in the bowels of the museum. Fine. I am starving. I don’t care about the ambience this time.

Suffice it to say, after I was satisfactorily stuffed and my feet rested, I made it through the rest of my day enjoying the art and the displays. The museum was too huge to be able to visit all the galleries. I only made it to the first floor and not even finishing all of it. Save that for another day. Next time, I won’t be walking.

 

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