The Hearst Castle Gardens are located near San Simeon, California, along the Central Coast, off of Highway 1. They are part of the impressive estate of newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst. The castle and gardens were designed by Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947. The castle showcases Mr. Hearst's vast collection of antiques. Getting up to the castle and gardens is an interesting ride. Visitors will take a bus that travels up a 1600 foot high hill, winding past grazing cattle and an occassional zebra. Yes, that's right. Mr. Hearst had a zoo up on his hill with a collection of exotic animals. The zebras escaped when the zoo was being dismantled. The herds of zebras are descended from the original zoo animals.
Once at the castle, visitors will see luxurious gardens designed on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Terraces are adorned with glazed tiles and fountains. One of the most beautiful fountains, is the Neptune Fountain, pictured at the left. Mr. Hearst wanted a garden that displayed blooms throughout the year, so the gardens are planted with flowers and plants that offer continuous color.
During my visit, I saw shocking pink Bougainvillea growing up the exterior of the castle. I also saw star jasmine, hydrangeas, myrtle, oleandars, petunias, roses, succulents, and orange trees.
To see the gardens, you must sign up for a tour of the castle. There are three varieties of tours. I took the one of the Great Rooms. It was quite fascinating. Tours cost $25.00 for adults, and $12.00 for children. The castle is open daily from 8:20 AM to 6:30 PM. The last tour is around 4:00 PM.