People, Places and Things

Is There a Bustle in Your Hedgerow?

As we continue on our systematic trek through Montecito, we recently passed through what local real estate agents refer to as the “Hedgerow District”, or some similar designation. We’ve always known of the Hedgerows in Montecito, and even spent quite a bit of time wandering around in them in decades past; but until now we never cared too much about where they begin and where they end. Some will probably take issue with our boundaries, but we feel like the Hedgerows now comprise the area shown in this map – the north/south borders are Mimosa Lane and No. Jameson; the east/west borders are Pomar Lane and Greenworth Place, with San Ysidro Road bisecting the area.

This is a modern photo, but it’s pretty much how we remember the Hedgerows looking, back into the 60’s and 70’s

As we hiked along, we were struck by a tune…and one of us busted into a verse of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven…if there’s a bustle in you hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now, it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen…and so we decided we’d better do some homework on the meaning of that phrase. We easily confirmed that a hedgerow is of English origin, and is simply a hedge boundary surrounding an estate. As we all know, there’s a lot of strange stuff on the internet, and as a result, we found a few wacky explanations for the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven. But in the end, we’re pretty certain that what Robert Plante meant by ” a bustle in your hedgerow” was simply a new beginning. There’s a quote attributed to him, stating, “What it is, it’s the beginning of Spring, it’s when the birds make their nests, when hope and the new year begins. And it’s nothing to do with any of that weird stuff you read about in America!” So there you have it.

But, the Hedgerows weren’t in Montecito until very plentiful water sources arrived. This photo (courtesy of the SB Historical Society by way of David Myrick’s book, Montecito Estates Vol II), was taken near what is now Greenworth Place at about the turn of the century. It shows the area that now comprises part of the lush hedgerows. In the upper left corner of the photo is Ortega Hill; the upper right is the Rincon, seen through the haze. The road that runs across the photo horizontally is San Ysidro, and the road heading up from San Ysidro is San Leandro.

In no particular order, here are some of the lovely homes we passed along our ramble through the hedgerows.

This little gem is located just off North Jameson, where the vintage photo above was taken. It’s a handmade adobe home with an incredible history. In all, it took 17 years (1947-1964) for Bob Bennett and his family to build their family home. It’s a beautiful example of Montecito architecture and we’re happy to see that it’s been preserved as much as possible.

The is the childhood home of a friend, who would love to have come up with the $3.9 million asking price for it when it was recently on the market. But alas he couldn’t, and some lucky person bought it…

On the day of our hike the we noticed the lovely home, designed by Roland Coated and built in 1928, was undergoing renovations. From the above picture out of Matt’s archives we can’t see a single thing wrong with this beautiful home, and can only hope that it won’t change too much in appearance after the work has been completed.

This historic house is located at 1569 San Leandro Lane. We learned a whole lot about it from reading the mailbox..that’s right, the mailbox! It was reportedly built in 1897 by Marian Watts, after the land was purchased from the Hixon family. Dubbed “El Contento”, a restoration was initiated in 2006 to preserve its historical features as much as possible. Note the stone posts out front; they are remnants of the cattle fences on the San Leandro Ranch, one of Montecito’s oldest land grants.

Another home of another childhood friend, this home, now dubbed “Andalucia”, has a history that may be a bit fanciful. The story is that in the early 1920s, the new owner of the property was shopping for an architect for the home she hoped to build. It’s rumored that Mary P. Drummond paid a visit to the office of George Washington Smith, to find that Mr. Smith away. Mary reportedly had conversation with a Mr. Sidney Stacey, GWS’s associate. Mr. Stacey is said to have shown Ms. Drummond plans that she loved so much she purchased them on the spot. It was only later that Ms. Drummond learned the plans she bought had not been intended for sale, but rather had been for GWS’s personal use in building his own home. But, ever the gentleman, GWS is rumored to have permitted the house to be built, so long as it was never disclosed that he was the architect of the project.

Mary Drummond owned the estate until 1951. It then passed to two subsequent owners until Waldo Ruess and his wife Conchita purchased it in 1964. The Ruesses lived in the Spanish Colonial home for the next 35 years, living happily and raising their five children. When asked about the architectural history of her exceptionally lovely home, Conchita Ruess replied that while she would have liked to have given credit to Mr. Smith for designing it, she couldn’t do so with any level of certainty…yet these days, a Google search calls the house a George Washington Smith, pointing out features that are “undeniably” his style. This photo was lifted off the internet. According to Zilllow, the place sold about 9 months ago for $3,650,000.

These images show some of the lovely trees in this neighborhood.

These show some of the amazing hedges that make up the Hedgerow District.

And this was the grandaddy of the hedges we saw. The Marborg trash truck gives some perspective as to the very impressive height of this amazing hedge.

With all those hedges, there are bound to be garden gates, and this neighborhood has some of the most unique and beautiful gates around. Here are just a few…

Don’t ask why, but somehow the street signs in the Hedgerows seem more charming than those in other parts of town.

And although we know this piece has probably gotten too long as it is, we can’t help but show you a few of the fun and interesting details we discovered in this neck of the woods.

As always, we encourage you to go out and explore the neighborhoods, keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter, and above all expect the unexpected

About Peter Hartmann and Stacey Wright

We are two "fifty-something" year olds who are lifetime residents of Santa Barbara. Together, we have decided to walk each and every street within the City limits of Santa Barbara just for the fun of it. Peter is a dentist, and Stacey is a long-time County employee who helps the elderly without family to look after them. Read more

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