What's It Like To Garden At A Castle?

We are visiting Hearst Castle.  We had a great time touring the buildings and the garden surrounding them.  I caught sight of one of the gardeners and took her photo.  She's smiling because she saw me taking her photo and probably thought:  "Silly tourists take pictures of everything."

 Actually I was imagining what it would be like gardening at a castle.  Plenty of equipment available...
 The beds are numbered, so if the boss tells you to clean out bed D-8, you know which one he means.
Or is this sign really displaying "Ohh noooo Mr. Bill"?
 There's this really cool dump slide.  You can toss all your cuttings in here, and...
 They'll all slide down into a truck waiting below.  Must be nice!
 On the other hand, there's a whole lot of pavement to keep clean.
Those darn dirty Pines!
 A whole lot of pavement.
 And a lot of stairs.
 And that little bit that turned out to be perfectly planted is where almost no one ever sees it. 
 And there's a huge and awesome greenhouse, standing empty.
 Even castle citrus trees are troubled by ants.
 And you'd really, really like to let that rose engulf that Palm tree, just to see what happens, but you can't.  It's not your castle.
 Even castles have little garden companions. 
The surroundings are glorious.
 The views are tremendous.
 But those Bougainvilleas grow so fast, and those Cordylines always need their dead leaves pulled off.
 And some parts of the garden are a little neglected.
 And castle or humble home, the compost pile is always too far away.
 Just when you get the Lantana looking nice, the irrigation line breaks. 
 You know standard roses may be historically correct, but you also know they still look awful.
 You like tile rabbits, but the other kind just ate your newly planted daisies. 
 You wonder if people who watch you think you are nuts. 
 You knew when you planted those in that awful spot that they would die.  And they did. 
 You love the oaks.  They are glorious at every time of day.  When you get hot or tired or frustrated, there are oaks to look at, and suddenly everything is okay again. 
 You sort of wish the Hydrangeas hadn't had such a great year.
 But you know what it's like to garden at a castle, because in the end it's gardening after all, and gardening is fun.
 

Comments

  1. This is one of the places I have longed to visit. There is great Hollywood history there , not to mention architecture and gardens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's absolutely fascinating, at least I find it so. Hearst was like the Steve Jobs or Zuckerberg of his era--someone who made buckets and buckets of money creating a revolution in mass media--in his case newspapers and magazines. I hope you get the chance to visit it.

      Delete
  2. What a beautiful castle! It's a pity some parts of the garden don't match its beauty, they should like the gardens of St Michael mount in the UK! Have a nice weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been to St. Michael's Mount! Hearst Castle is somewhat reminiscent of that--isolated, and a very grand place. Most all of the grounds at Hearst Castle are very well groomed; for the neglected bits, they're not much, and they do need to conserve as much water as they can because the Central Coast area is short of water...

      Delete
  3. OMG! This is a way of sharing the Hearst Castle that almost makes me want to visit...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is fascinating. One thinks of Hearst Castle as this really rich guy's plaything, but less obvious is how it allowed truly master craftsmen of all trades, to do spectacular work, which has been preserved for all to see. Not to mention the craftsmen of the past (1500's-1800's whose work is also preserved because Hearst bought it up and brought it to California.

      Delete
  4. The somewhat neglected patch has such potential, thanks to the established agaves et al. It would seem ideal for a basic matrix of low grasses -- two kinds at most. With the grasses established, it would be easy to plunk in a few native bloomers if time allows.

    Those rose standards -- brrrrr! Think how much less work and more beauty the garden would have if they could be replaced with big salvias.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well the gardens as they are now are preserving the style that Hearst and architect Julia Morgan envisioned and are true to that history. I appreciate that. The oaks make up a huge portion of the gardens and they are native to the site.

      Delete
  5. Took your advice and drank in the oaks to restore balance. Aaaaaahh.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's nice to know that even gardening at a castle isn't a bed of roses (and, yes, those standards are awful). It's been years since I've been there. Thanks for the tour. I hope you're enjoying yourself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's pretty fun, and not hot! Cool Central Coast---aaaaaaaahhhh!

      Delete
  7. What a great post - in so many ways. Thanks for the garden tour.

    ReplyDelete
  8. it's a very twirly architectural style? Italianate?
    The oaks are the bit that appeals to me. And the statue with the view!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a bit of a mish-mash; Hearst bought all kinds of stuff home from Europe and Julia Morgan's job was to make it all work together. It was quite a challenge, and she succeeded in many ways. It was sort of envisioned to be a hillside village in Italy or Spain--with Roman ruins, a central church, and surrounding cottages of slightly different eras. 28 years of construction!

      Delete
  9. I love this! I've been to the winery and now you've made me want to see Hearst Castle's grounds. I'm not particularly interested in the Castle, but I never realized the gardens might be that interesting. Next SoCal trip, maybe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a very California story. The grounds and the castle are all of a single vision and parts of a whole. History, personal taste, character, experience, Julia Morgan's ability to work with Hearst's demands, changing desires, memories, and shrinking/swelling budgets. Hollywood! Ego! Every master craftsman in San Francisco! Warehouses full of stuff! A wife! A mistress! Everything you could think of. Fascinating too, to compare Hearst's Castle to Huntington's Library, and Madame Walska's Lotus Land fantasy.

      Delete
    2. Definitely would choose Mme. Walska's as the place to hang out, offered those choices...

      Delete
  10. Oh, for gosh sakes! I'll probably bump into you on the 101 this week! Or maybe at Lotusland, if you head that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alan offered a visit to Lotus Land, but that ice-cool ocean air on the central coast was what I was interested in. So very, very, very tired of hot weather. Have fun on your road trip!

      Delete
  11. Amazing! Love your winter place & it's nice you have a staff to keep it in shape for you while you're away. It must be awesome to experience this in person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a long drive to Trader Joe's, so we send one of the staff members. ;^) Other than that, yes, pretty awesome.

      Delete
  12. I love the pics and Hearst Castle is on my bucket list. Mr. Bill joke = priceless. Thank you for your humor! The oaks in central CA are so beautiful. Does the lizard have a thorn stuck in his/her shoulder or is it just the angle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah! You saw the rose thorn on the the lizard, too! I think it was stuck on the little guy yes, but not deeply. It was Dear Husband that noticed the Mr. Bill sign. His contributions are valuable!

      The oaks in central CA are a bit different than here. I think ours are actually better looking--it could be the drought was even harder on central Coast than here. Saw many stressed ones.

      I was taken aback by the Eucalyptus in and around Santa Barbara very near the ocean, they were far more beautiful than the ones around here, looking quite gorgeous. Most of the ones I see in our neighborhood look awful.

      Delete
  13. Loved romping around the grounds with you. Remember the scene in Citizen Kane where the grand dining table was replete with ketchup bottles and what-all? Your tongue-in-cheek presentation reminded me of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The film and all the history is sort of there mixed all up in the back of your mind when visiting, and sort of not. It is the ghost of Cary Grant I think of, swimming at night in the Roman Bath. Ketchup makes sense, actually; before the castle existed it was the Hearst family campground with campfires, pack horses, and sleeping in tents.

      Delete
  14. We were there last year and loved it. Everything about it is over the top but that's what so special about it. And the views!!!!

    However, I was a little disappointed in the gardens--I found them a bit underwhelming. I wish they'd do a garden tour so we can find out more what their gardening philosophy is. Maybe the gardens weren't a big priority for Hearst (or rather Julia Morgan)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I remember, a tour guide said the gardens are intended to be historically accurate to what was intended by Hearst and Morgan. I'm okay with that as the place after all is really a museum. New and trendy plants would simply not seem right. There are all the classic Mediterranean plants--citrus, roses, palms, surrounded by the fabulous native oaks that are the stars.

      Delete
  15. Looks like such an interesting place - so full of stories from a really fascinating time period. Would love to visit some time, but for now, I enjoyed your tour very much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy you found it of interest, thank you!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Always interested in your thoughts.

Any comments containing a link to a commercial site with the intent to promote that site will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding on this matter.

Popular Posts