Free Horticultural Tour at the Four Seasons Santa Barbara

The Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara has world-famous gardens and their master gardener, Ezequiel (he goes by Zeke), gives tours of the gardens at 11:00 a.m. every Tuesday (March to about November). The meetup group and I went there this week, and wowee! It was great.

Warning: prepare yourself for a long, long post with lots of pictures! You might want to go get a glass of iced tea before you start.

First of all, Zeke is great – he’s worked for the hotel for 35 years and he now manages 11 staff (down from 18 before to the economic troubles).

Zeke - Biltmore Garden Tour

He’s usually smiling and laughing, but I caught him off guard. Zeke knows and loves these grounds … and he’s a funny guy to chat with. ┬áThe staff started off by giving us a map of the grounds, complete with numbers to match the plants we’re going to see, and a bottle of water. Nice!

The roses were breathtaking

Roses - Biltmore Garden Tour


Roses - Biltmore Garden Tour

There were huge fuschias

Fuschia - Biltmore Garden Tour

The grounds were lush, just packed with lovely things – that yellow flowering tree is a Gold Medallion. I want one.

Gold Medallion - Biltmore Garden Tour

Then, we came around to the hotel kitchen garden with fresh herbs

Herbs - Biltmore Garden Tour

and tomatoes

tomatoes - Biltmore Garden Tour

and peppers

peppers - Biltmore Garden Tour

Zeke says the kitchen doesn’t use the peppers very much, so he eats them. He thinks it’s because they aren’t Mexican chefs! I tell you, he’s a hoot. You can do this tour as a self-guided tour, but it wouldn’t be as fun without Zeke.

We came back to take a good look at the Gold Medallion tree – wow, it’s so pretty!

Gold Medallion tree - Biltmore Garden Tour

These are giant birds of paradise!

Giant Birds of Paradise - Biltmore Garden Tour

Orange hibiscus – Zeke pulled many flowers off for us to wear in our hair


Then, the grand-daddy of them all – a Morton Fig Tree that’s been here for over 100 years.

Morton Fig Tree - Four Seasons Biltmore Garden Tour

It’s difficult to get a perspective on the size of this monster, but I’ll throw in a few more photos to see if that helps – can you see the person in this one (lower right)?

Morton Fig Tree - Four Seasons Biltmore Garden Tour

She’s taking a picture of the root system, which is spread out along the ground.

Morton Fig Tree - Four Seasons Biltmore Garden Tour

Wicked, isn’t it? Now a few random shots

Four Seasons Biltmore Garden Tour


Four Seasons Biltmore Garden Tour


Four Seasons Biltmore Garden Tour

The branches of these trees are held up by cables because when they fall and crash to the ground, they sometimes hit REALLY EXPENSIVE CARS. Zeke said the last one that fell cost the hotel over $80,000 because of the car it fell onto, so now, they stake them with cables.

Four Seasons Biltmore Garden Tour

Oh, and if you go on the tour, be sure to ask Zeke why the tall metal bands around some trees. I thought it was to keep the squirrels at bay – they’d slide down the metal and can’t jump above it – but it’s not the squirrels!

This is a wonderful way of sharing with the community – thank you, and bravo to the Biltmore!



fourteenergirl Written by:

A mother, sister, wife, and daughter who writes, knits, hikes, and practices yoga on the west coast. Loves a zippy chardonnay or a tart margarita!

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