Are you up for a weekend dash to California?
Come on, let’s go.
I just learned of a place I’d love to see near Fresno.
“Fresno?” you’re thinking. “Have you gone urban on us, MJ?”
Not a chance. The destination we’re out to discover is actually beneath the city in a sort of secret garden that defies the parched climate and pavement above …
This unlikely oasis is called the Forestiere Underground Gardens, created in the early 1900s by Italian immigrant Baldasare Forestiere, who was inspired by ancient catacombs that he had admired as a boy. Using a pick, shovel, and wheelbarrow, Forestiere excavated his own private paradise deep in the sun-baked California desert over the course of 40 years. By the time he was 44 years old, he had transformed over 10 acres of seemingly unyielding dirt into a labyrinth of rooms, passageways, patios, and courtyards that are still beautifully intact today.
Of course, I was instantly beguiled by the bath …
But, what about the garden aspect?
This I would love to see.
“Incredibly, Forestiere 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,” says the Forestiere Gardens website. “Wine and table grapes also grace this sanctuary and dangle lusciously in great clumps everywhere.”
Can you imagine?
I knew you’d love the idea, too, so I arranged a private tour. Take a look …
If you’re near Fresno in person, you can stop in for a visit. Just be sure to tell me all about it when you get back to the surface!