The Hearst Castle looms up into the sky, high on a hill in San Simeon, California, about 250 miles north of Los Angeles. It requires a bus ride
to get there. Even then, you continue to climb stairs to get to the entrance of this European influenced castle on the spot that the late William Randolph Hearst named "La Cuesta Encantada," the enchanted hill.
It was land his father owned and after William Hearst died it was donated to the state of California as a public park. The view from the castle is stunning and includes the Pacific ocean on a clear day. There are several fountains, like this one below, in the gardens.
His house, oops--I mean, castle--is filled with priceless pieces of ancient European art: paintings, tapestry, Italian wood carved ceilings, and choir chairs from old churches. There are Persian rugs and beautiful tiled floors that can no longer be restored and can no longer be stepped on. The Grand tour of the Hearst Castle (this is only one of 38 homes he owned, by the way) in fact is limited to only a few main rooms where he entertained his famous guests.
But visitors are invited to walk through all of the gardens, where the beauty of this enchanted hill comes alive.
Antique furniture and art is fascinating, of course, but it's the here and now of a garden that I love. It's the combination of the oaks that are perhaps a hundred years old with the blooms that just opened up in the past few weeks.
It's the combination of the blue sky, green trees and shrubs, and white sculpture--lots of white sculpture--that delivers a punch of living art in the here and now.
It is grace surrounded by tall cypress and palm trees.
Masculinity works here too, with the blooming hydrangeas and the striking brick and tiled patios.
And whimsy, popping up in between the boxwood and roses. This was my favorite scene in the garden, in part because of the adorable interaction going on in this sculpture and the slightest element of surprise when I came upon it.
Sculpture is everywhere, covered under shady nooks and crannies of the garden.
The Neptune Pool is jaw dropping. Grecian is the theme and one can only imagine feeling like a goddess lounging here, soaking up the sun and the beauty of the sculpture that adorns the pool as well.
Hearst grew up to be king not of a country, but of a media empire in America. He built himself a castle on land his family owned and that he cherished as a child. Every castle requires a great garden. And this garden, indeed, is befitting a castle and a king.