Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tour of Neverland - The Sycamore Valley Ranch real estate brochure - Part 2

As much research, thought and effort as went into the planning and construction of the main residence, went also into the improvement of the 32 acre homesite that surrounds the main residence.  Landscape architect Thomas A. Stone was retained to do the site planning of the 32 acre homesite and thereafter to personally design all the landscape and hardscape elements.
The initial concept of a symmetrical, formal English Garden was rejected in favor of a more casual, informal, non-symmetrical, random design that would better complement the ranch lands adjoining the homesite. Each garden within the homesite was designed to be different from the others – each making its own unique statement. The gardens adjoining each of the four guest rooms have a color scheme that complements the interior d├ęcor of each respective guest room. The front entry of the home is a Winter Garden that provides predominance of flowering plants in the winter. The garden adjoining the Recreation Building is an Autumn Garden, with a blaze of color reminiscent of New England in October. The rear of the home is a Terraced Summer Garden. In addition, there is the Rose Garden, the secret Garden and the Camellia/Rhododendron and Azalea Garden to name a few.
Each flower bed was drawn at large scale and the placement of every plant within the flower bed meticulously drawn in by Mr. Stone. A balance between annual and perennial flowering plants was used to ensure that every garden looked inviting even in the off-flowering season.
“The primary objective of the site planning, together with the landscape and hardscape plans, was to make it seem, when construction was completed, that all of the homesite features, the lake, stream, waterfall and trees had always been there and we merely built the house in between these natural features,” said Bone. “Of course, the only thing that was on the 32-acre homesite when we started were the 98 mature oak trees; the valley itself was being farmed with oats.”
After the completion and approval by Bone of the site plan, landscape and hardscape plans, Mr. Stone selected and purchased the specific plant materials to be installed to assure that the size and structure of each tree and scrub would be complementary. He supervised the construction and installation of hardscape, landscape, lightning and irrigation system, and upon completion, remained as the Ranch Manager to be responsible for the on-going maintenance of the grounds.
The center of attraction was, from the start, the building of a nearly four acre lake with a five foot waterfall and stone bridge. The shape of the lake was dictated by a desire to preserve all the oak trees and not to damage them. There are over 50.000 oak trees on Sycamore Valley Ranch.
“The trees create a beautiful environment, especially in the morning and evening when the shadows are long,” said Bone.

The northern shore of the lake accommodates the Guest House peninsula. This land feature provides three of the four guest rooms with a view of the lake. The two lakes average around 8 feet in depth and can be used for swimming, boating and fishing. A sandy beach and diving rock can be seen at the lower left of the photo. The “Fishing Rock” juts out from the right side of the peninsula. The upper lake is seen at the upper right. Beyond the main residence complex the goal posts of the soccer field are visible. Up into the mountain range is the High Pasture, most of which is on Sycamore Valley Ranch property.
Mid October is the end of the warm season in the Santa Ynez Valley, and plants by then have grown to their greatest profusion. In the golden light of late afternoon the front entryway is cooled by the shadows of Sycamore and Oak, and the garden luxuriates in a burst of autumn colors – yellow Marigolds, the golden Daisies and dwarf Coreopsis, the white Palydosum Daisies and red marguerites.
A breezeway connects the residence to the Office/Garage complex which also includes a gym and a housekeeper apartment on the upper story.
A sense of seasonal change, normally missing from California landscape, is accentuated on the homesite in the grouping of trees. The front of the residence is a winter theme garden, the Valley Oaks and Sycamores dropping their foliage in season. This photograph, taken in March, also allows a better view of the house itself. The post, beam and brick construction is often mistakenly thought of as a purely English style, but was actually prevalent throughout Europe in the 19th century.
The oaks on the homesite are protected from overwatering by clearly defined stone encirclements. The thick carpet of lawn is broken by random outcroppings of English Daisies. The grass sometimes grows high enough to ripple in the wind even though it is moved at the beginning of each week; the daisies are in bloom again by the weekend.  
The European Country House had its antecedents in the simple rustic cottage. Some of the cottage’s contours and textures remain, as well as an appealing warmth. Achieving this quality required the custom design and manufacture of aesthetically significant elements such as windows, gutters and gutter down-spouts. Even the little copper brackets that connect the down-spouts to the walls were custom made. This attention to detail is characteristic throughout.  
Symbols of strength and dignity, great oaks stand as guardians on the perimeter of the northside terrace garden. Their placement does not impede a view of the mountains from the house. A contrasting stand of slender birch separates the barbecue structure from the recreation building on the right.

(Please note that a full-size PDF brochure will be available at the end of part four.)


  1. Yes, Enola this is truly "Heaven on Earth" I too hope to one day before I leave this earthly planet (as well as millions of other MJ fans) wish to go and see it in person..Even if from afar...but to walk the grounds would truly be amazing knowing that Michael once walked this wonderful place..and somehow I truly believe his spirit often visits...

    1. Hi Nancy,
      Whether or not his spirit visits from time to time, I know one thing for sure - Michael left such a lasting imprint on Neverland that its pull on me never changed.

      It is the centre of my universe.

  2. From what the brochure says, it sounds like the people who built and designed the ranch were meticulous and particular about they wanted ... perfectionists you might say. Seems appropriate that Michael was drawn to it :)

    1. I cannot help but think that Michael finding Neverland was meant to be. Or maybe it was like that base ball movie (Fields of Dreams)with Kevin Costner.
      You know, "If you build it he will come..."

  3. I think this is a very amazing and beautiful garden of flowers and trees that are surrounding the property.I know that Michael Jackson would certainly approve of the work and effort that has been done to ensure that his grounds were kept up with such beautiful landscaping.I am sure that he still often comes back to visit this place that was his home.

    1. My name is Angela Jones and I am a fan of Michael Jackson.I know that Michael Jackson would really be pleased with the special care that has been taken to keep his home and grounds beautiful with the landscaping that has been done.The home and grounds surrounding the ranch are magnificent.The work done around the home shows just how much he was truely loved and I am sure that Michael Jackson comes and visits these grounds that were his home often.

    2. Hi Angela!
      Pleased to meet you!

      I definitely think Michael would approve of the work that is being done to keep Neverland beautiful. He did not want to live there after the raid in 2003, but there is no doubt in my mind that Neverland remained special to him. If not, he would have sold it. Lord knows, he needed the money.

      I sometimes imagine Michael walking around in the rolling hills of Neverland Valley, unseen and at peace with himself and the world. It is a nice thought - and one that always makes me happy.

      A few days ago, I discovered that on the sleeve of the white jacked he was dressed in after his death, the designers of the jacket had put the emblem of the Order of the Garter - the exact same emblem, which adorned the inner gate at Neverland.
      I really like that. It is like he carries with him an eternal key to his old home.