Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Gardens at Hearst Castle

One of the many white marble statues scattered throughout the gardens of Hearst Castle
Last Saturday, we found ourselves at the beach in San Simeon enjoying a picnic lunch and a perfect day of sunshine and light breezes wafting over the Pacific. It is not everyday that one gets to see such perfection on the Central Coast. Often there is fog or too much wind. But this day was, in fact,  perfection.

A view of the towers of Casa Grande through the gardens of Hearst Castle. Note the detail of the glazed tile step risers which blend into a flagstone pathway.
The group we had for the picnic separated in two. There were some who stayed at the beach for swimming and fishing, and others who decided to take in the gardens at Hearst Castle, just up the hill. We drove across the highway to the Visitor Center, which has built an IMAX theater since the last time I visited! I am not sure what will be next. But we did take in the movie about the history of Hearst Castle, which was really quite well done. I felt like I was at Disneyland's Soarin' over California ride. Gorgeous filming!

Another of the White Marble Statues gracing the grounds of the Castle. The vistas stretching for miles were spectacular this Spring day.
Then it was time for the bus ride up the hill. We took the Cottage and Kitchen tour and of course the gardens. In a word....spectacular! The gardens were filled with Spring flowers....California poppies, tulips, daffodils, pansies, bougainvillea, roses, calla lilies, azaleas, fuchsias, citrus trees and magnolias....and the brilliant green of new growth was everywhere.

View past one of the Guest Cottages, Casa Del Monte to the surrounding hills
It was all we could do to keep our attention focused on the gardens around us, because the views of the surrounding hills was equally as gorgeous and provided an amazing backdrop to the Castle.

Entrance to largest of the Guest Cottages, Casa Del Mar, from the Formal Gardens
Many of you already know the history of this Castle on the hill. If not, you can read all about it HERE. But in short, William Randolph Hearst, renowned publishing magnate collaborated with architect Julia Morgan, the first woman to graduate from the Ecole Nationale et Speciale des Beaux Arts in Paris in architecture. Starting in 1919, these two visionaries worked together for 28 years in the creation of Hearst Castle.

The Formal Gardens leading to Casa Del Mar, tulips surrounded by boxwood and rose topiaries.
The architectural style used by Julia Morgan is Mediterranean Revival, a vernacular which is in keeping with much of the architecture of California. The towers of the large house or "Casa Grande", which started as one tower and became revised to the two towers, was inspired by a Spanish cathedral. Every detail, every carving, roof tile, stone carving was fashioned by collaboration between Hearst and Morgan. As a note to the stability of the engineering of the reinforced concrete that Julia Morgan used, I was told that there was a recent significant earthquake which caused no damage to the structure whatsoever. 

The hillside view of the Casa del Mar Guest house, quite grand!

Again, Hearst and Morgan collaborated in the design of these beautiful gardens modeling them after the many European gardens they both studied. The flora was designed to show flowers blooming year round, but I think Spring must be the most beautiful.
Casa Grande's twin towers. The main house is 68,500 square feet with 38 bedrooms.
Side courtyard where the main part of the Casa Grande meets the new service wing that was never completed on the exterior. It reminds me of a European village square with the fountain.
The Magnolia trees were still in bloom around the main koi pond in front of Casa Grande
I hope you enjoyed the view!

Next up, the kitchen, baths and wine cellar....and then the Cottage rooms and architectural details. 
I hope you come back!


Sarah said...

Fabulous! I lived in LA and Hearst Castle was one place I never visited...I must visit next time I'm out there - great photos, will look forward to more!! ;-))

Karena said...

Katie, I have been to Hearst Castle and it is one of the most magical places in the world. The property, views, home, garden, all of it is fabulous beyond! Thank you for bringing back the memories.

I hope you will come and see my new Annie Sloan projects!

Art by Karena

mary said...

Hi Katie, I'll be back. Thank you. Mary

pregnancy bridesmaid dresses said...

Awesome statues and wonderful places!!!

Merlin said...

Isn't it just wonderful?!? We, too, saw it on a "perfect day." The oleander intrigued me... franki

Pigtown*Design said...

You know that the castle where I worked in Wales was owned by William Randolph Hearst... No one knows that, which is a shame.

Pix are HERE.

Contempo Space said...

That looks like a magical building...love the mediterranean revival style

jane carter said...

When I stepped into the showroom, I felt like I was in Provence.
The scent of lavender and the sound of running water from the antique limestone fountain along with the incredible selection of French garden antiques were really impressive. If you are looking for very large garden ornaments, French planters, etc. this is the showroom to visit. A total of 15,000 square feet of the most incredible French garden antiques, French limestone fountains, fireplace mantels and the most selective collection of planters from France with immediate availability. Each piece feels real, the atmosphere is so calming and rural. A true and unique gem to be found in West Palm Beach! Their website is www.authenticprovence.com