IT IS RIGHT AROUND MARCH, or at least near the start of spring, when we start pondering projects we'd like to take on, especially those projects that are centered around places out in the fresh air. Our outdoor goals may involve a potted petunia for the patio or maybe some rosemary by the back fence, or mint, perhaps, because mint is good with everything in the summertime. Maybe you'll set up a sweet new seating area, with an umbrella, and if you're very ambitious? The building of a pergola could be in your near future. But whatever we attempt around our yards in the coming months will very likely not possess a fraction of the scope nor vision once held by Baldassare Forestiere. For after the citrus grower moved to Fresno from Sicily in 1901, he began to construct a true wonderland underground. Mr. Forestiere "... crafted a subterranean complex of patios, grottoes, and garden courts, featuring arches and and stonework using the local hardpan sedimentary rock," and the colossal size of the spaces, and how well they endure, continually wow those who see it. After decades of creativity, ingenuity, and hard work,
THE FORESTIERE UNDERGROUND GARDENS, as we know them today, fully flowered into eclectic and iconic existence. To pay tribute to this great craftsman, and to stroll his beneath-the-ground grottoes, visitors are welcome to call upon the Fresno attraction. Not all year, however; the gardens do shutter in the wintertime. But come March, the gardens reopen to longtime fans and first-time visitors again, on the weekends, as the temperatures slowly begin to shake off the chill. Hours and days grow as April arrives, and summer buzzes, attracting oodles of curious people who want to know how much the temperature can drop from above ground to below, in just a few steps (answer: quite a bit). Things slow down as Thanksgiving draws near, and December is "schedule pending," so planning your Fresno frolic in the spring, summer, or early fall is a must, if you want to include California State Landmark #916 on your itinerary, as you absolutely should. The 2018 schedule? More info on this magical open-air subterranean garden? Here.