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Garden tour: Weird, wacky Hermitage Santa Barbara

High in the hills of Santa Barbara lies the Hermitage, the private whimsy of Theodore Roosevelt Gardner II. If you are lucky enough to be invited to the 18-acre property, and few are, you will find 5-foot-high stone toes popping out of a hillside ...


... and a bronze female swimmer stretching her shoulders near a half-submerged flying saucer ...


... and an austere samurai robot called "The Warrior" made out of chrome car bumpers.


In a sunken hole, 16 clay lawn jockeys stand in rows, deliberately evoking the terra cotta army that guards the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of China.


Earlier this year, Gardner self-published a book about his unusual sculpture garden called "The Hermitage Santa Barbara at 20." Recently he took us on a tour, filled with wry jokes and truly unbelievable (in many ways) art. Click through our photo gallery and see for yourself. 

-- Deborah Netburn

Photo: David McNew / For The Times


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We live in SB and have passed by the front gate of this property numerous times. We have always peered over the fence to see what sculptures are visible from the street. The Tea Fire cleared out a lot of brush and made many sculptures more visible. I'd love to tour the property sometime, but might have to be content with thumbing through the book.

The army of terracotta jockeys is awesome!

This is remarkable. I wish I could see it in person. I guess I need to get the book.

I put in an army of terra cotta garden gnomes.

Those are not gnomes...they are Do Das.

How wonderful. I wonder what will be displayed in the proposed book-shaped museum.


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