How Oprah Learned to Stop and Smell the Roses (Literally) at Her California Home: 'This Garden Makes Me Present'

The TV mogul's passion for flowers bloomed (with a little help) in Santa Barbara

There are some old adages Oprah takes very seriously.

“I’ve done many interviews with people who had to lose what they had in order to value what they still have,” she tells Veranda in their September/October 30th Anniversary issue. “Sometimes I stand under the arbor, close my eyes, and allow myself to take in as much as I can: I hear birds splashing in the fountain and literally smell the roses. This garden makes me present.”

The TV mogul’s Santa Barbara home overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a world away from her Chicago base. And when she purchased the property in 2001, it’s 42 acres came with a steep learning curve.

“What did I know about a garden?” she says. “I would leave my apartment in the Water Tower in Chicago at 5:30 in the morning and come back at 8:30 at night, when it was dark.” When she found out the plot came with a designated area for a rose garden that was not yet designed, she says, “I thought, Oh boy, what am I going to do with that?”

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As she would in any episode of her beloved show, she turned to the very best expert in the field: Dan Bifano, who’s designed gardens for Barbra Streisand and Tom Ford. Together they picked every bloom, structure and detail of the garden.

“I’m very hands-on,” she says. “I picked the gravel. I picked the grout between the stonework. I decided which way the roses would face. Love is in the details.”

Victoria Pearson

Now, Oprah’s fully stepped into her gardening shoes. She joined a local club called Rose Buddies, and helped develop a new hybrid flower called Legends, in honor of her female African-American heroes.

For the full story, pick up Veranda‘s September/October 30th Anniversary issue, on newsstands August 29.

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