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).
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. The 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
There were huge fuschias
The grounds were lush, just packed with lovely things – that yellow flowering tree is a Gold Medallion. I want one.
Then, we came around to the hotel kitchen garden with fresh herbs
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!
These are giant birds of paradise!
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.
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)?
She’s taking a picture of the root system, which is spread out along the ground.
Wicked, isn’t it? Now a few random shots
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.
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!