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Hearst Castle Garden


The gardens and buildings of Hearst Castle in California are undeniably lavish. Inspired by Italian and Spanish gardens, media tycoon William Randolf Hearst collaborated closely with his architect, Julia Morgan, during the 1930s and 40s to create what is essentially a slice of Europe in California. No expense was spared in the creation of the castle. The buildings are magnificent - you really could think you are in a European Castle.

Likewise, Hearst spared no expense in the gardens, importing many artefacts to adorn the landscape. He used a lot of classical statuary, and often not just imitations. For example, 2000-year-old columns have been used in the construction of the Greek temple beside the Neptune Pool. Sculptures, urns, wall plaques and other features throughout the gardens include many original artworks from both classical and ancient Europe.

Hearst wanted lots of flowers, all year round. This was achieved using woody plants, such as bougainvilleas and rhododendrons, along with massed beds of annuals, bulbs and perennials, all tended by a small army of gardeners.

The Hearst Castle was deeded to the State of California in 1957 and the gardens are now maintained by the California State Parks Department. In 1994 a Landscape Preservation and Management Plan was developed to re-evaluate the gardens. As a consequence, some hazardous trees were heavily pruned or removed, and all other aspects of the gardens were surveyed and recorded

Today’s care and maintenance is based upon that plan, and thus the historical integrity of the garden has been ensured for future generations. Although there are fewer staff caring for the gardens and the extravagant annual plantings of the 30s and 40s are no longer a feature, the gardens have largely been maintained as they were in Hearst’s time.

Hearst Castle is located mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco; don’t miss it if you visit this area. The gardens and buildings are open to the public every day except Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving.

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