Friday, April 12, 2013

Forestiere Underground Gardens

Just a short drive away from our beautiful park is California State Landmark No. 916, the Underground Gardens.  The Underground Gardens are the life-long devotion and hobby of Baldassare Forestiere (1879-1946), a Sicilian immigrant who came to America in 1901 to escape the iron rule of his wealthy father and pursue his own dreams.  The Gardens are a subterranean complex of patios, grottos, and garden courts interconnecting with passageways that encircle the living quarters of the self-taught artist and builder who sought to escape the brutal heat of Fresno summers.

He patterned his underground world after the ancient catacombs.  But unlike the dark catacombs that protected the 
remnants of the lifeless, he designed well-lit courtyards and grottos to bring forth the radiance and vitality of life.

He worked without drawing any plans and worked room by room, originating the ideas in his mind as he went.  With the simple tools of a farmer—a pick, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow—he dug, chipped, and carved the land for 40 years.  By the time he was 44 years-old, he had excavated and planted over 10 acres. 

Forestiere also planted multiple varieties of fruit-bearing plants at different underground levels.  Oranges, lemons, grapefruits—many on a single tree—as well as more unusual varieties like kumquat, loquat, jujube, strawberry, quince, and dates could be easily plucked from the surface by simply bending down.  Wine and table grapes can also be found in sanctuary, and dangle in clumps all over.

For more information about this unique place and when you can visit, click here.  

Be sure to call soon at (559) 897-2885 and book your site or sites for this summer.  The reservations are already starting to come in and it is sure to be a great, busy season!

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