The dark green spires of cypress trees rise above the red-tiled roofs, and towering pines cast dramatic shadows over the golf course. Silvery olive trees with gnarled trunks and pink-red splays of bougainvillea show up around almost every corner. Coiffed hedges of boxwood, white roses and lilac line the stone pathways.
These iconic garden images could be straight out of a travel guide for Italy, or many seaside villages along the Mediterranean. Instead, they are concentrated in the coastal hills in Newport Beach to the delight of everyone who passes by, visits or vacations at The Resort at Pelican Hill.®
“Our guests are always taking pictures of our Bird of Paradise plants when they bloom, and asking about the giant pine trees, and all our amazing specimen trees and unique plantings,” said Omar Maquitico, who helps oversee the landscaping on the nearly 500-acre Resort.
Although most of the Italian-inspired gardens and trees seem as though they have been there for decades, the Resort opened only six years ago. Many trees, including several hundred mature olive trees, were brought over from across the country in giant boxes. Most were carefully selected and planted to enhance and complement the 16th-century, classical Palladian architecture.
“There is layering of the different plants to complement the architecture,” said Mike Major, vice president of landscape architecture with The Irvine Company® who manages the Resort’s landscape design and architecture. “We also used a lot of plants as accents, and some as foundation plantings, to frame or highlight certain elements.”
Stone pines, which have a distinct umbrella shape, were chosen to create the dramatic views from a distance. “That’s an image that you see in Italy,” he said.
The vertical cypress and palms often accent specific roof elements and provide visual emphasis to a building elevation. And the dark, rich green colors and textures provide a natural contrast to the smooth, clean lines of the Palladian architecture.
“That’s just the way it exists in Italy, and we are trying to replicate that look with the rich colors against the terra cotta roof tile” Mike Major
Among the most notable trees at the Resort are the majestic Moreton Bay Figs, which over the years amass intricate, above-ground roots and giant canopies. There are four of these specimen trees in the Resort’s porte-cochère and one in the golf club valet. Several Rusty Leaf Fig trees, which also bring a lot of character because of the leaves’ fuzzy texture and color, are sprinkled in through the Bungalows. About 40 of the Resort’s olive trees are over 100-years old.
Pelican Hill also features succulents and agave, which are drought tolerant and add interest to the plantings. At the end of one cul-de-sac in the Bungalows is an exotic Dragon Tree, which is known for its spiky leaves and unique trunk.
“People come here from all over the world, and are amazed at our trees and plants,” said Maquitico, who works for Valley Crest Maintenance. “I tell them, even though I haven’t been there yet, ‘It’s just like Italy.’”
To reserve a tour, contact the Concierge at 877.624.6035.