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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Inspiration Research (IR)—A Writer’s Field Trip

I’m taking a week to go back to visit with family and friends in Tennessee and Kentucky (with a side trip to the Biltmore House & Gardens in Ashville, NC). It’s been a while, time to recharge and refresh the little gray cells. In addition to the site seeing trips, this week will be filled with lots of shared memories, laughs and maybe a few tears with family and friends. I’m on an Inspiration Research (IR) journey this week and I can’t wait (as a former engineer who did Operations Research (OR) in her career, and who has now transitioned to the writer doing IR, I find this transition to be very cool indeed).

Today we began our trip driving to Ashville, NC from the Knoxville, TN area—about a 3 hour drive. We had the pleasure of having our beautiful niece with us for this field trip (amazing how an auntie and a niece can laugh and laugh when they’re together). I can’t tell you how beautiful it was driving on 40E through the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina. The hills were majestically green from the tree laden slopes and gave us one spectacular view after another. Living in southern California where we seem to be in a perpetual drought situation (the hills are usually dried out tan or brown grasses due to lack of water), it’s so refreshing to see such a lush, plush landscape.

We decided to go to the magnificent Biltmore House & Gardens to get a castle grounds refresh. Since I’m in the early stages of writing book 3, I thought it would be a great way to refill my mind with thoughts of my fictional Cherrywood Hall and its beautiful estate grounds. I’ve been to Biltmore once before in the fall many years ago, which was spectacular. I have to say though, this spring visit took my breath away with the views and gardens in full bloom, which we didn’t get to tour on the previous trip. The featured picture today and the one below was taken from the open air loggia (Don’t you love that word, loggia? It’s basically an open air veranda overlooking the estate grounds with the Smoky Mountains in the background).

view from the loggia

The gardens are magnificent with their geometric layouts with plants and flowers in full bloom. The gardens are featuring stunning Murano inspired glass sculptures at this time as well, giving a magical look to these already stunning creations. The colors of the glass sculptures gave yet another wave of rainbows to the already colorful gardens—it took our breath away.

bilt garden 2
glass sculp2
side garden

One of my favorite places to visit on the estate today was the conservatory. it’s brick and glass structure looked in many ways, how I envisioned the fictional wedding pavilion that was built on the grounds of Cherrywood Hall in the 2nd book, Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor. The structure is filled with tropical plants of all varieties and even more glass sculptures hanging from its rafters. I smiled when I saw one room being prepared for an elegant wedding dinner that evening—I can just imagine Gemma and Kyle smiling at their guests 🙂 .

Biltmore conservatory 1
wedding dinner prep in conservatory

We walked for over 5 hours today, touring the rooms open inside the ‘House’ (we were told by a guide that the house is almost 179,000 square feet—I can’t even imagine…). We walked upstairs and downstairs, seeing the magnificent parlors, bedrooms, studies, dining rooms and library rooms reserved for the owners and their guests, and the working rooms where servants cooked and cleaned, making sure everything was perfect. These rooms were a joy to see as well, but I have to say that for me, today was all about the estate grounds. It was a beautiful day, with miles (well it seemed like miles, especially at the end of our 5 hour tour) of walkways to explore. Originally the estate had over 124,000 acres—today it has 8000 acres after the Vanderbilt’s gifted the majority over to the park service to be preserved for our enjoyment. It’s truly a magnificent place to enjoy the day, and this writer left with a big grin on her face. I hope you get the chance to visit this magnificent place as well someday—highly recommended.


Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. The Biltmore House & Gardens is located in Ashville, NC. For more information please go to Gemma would approve 🙂

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