As she continues along a cobblestone road that winds its way through her property, Oprah points out a path—Hallelujah Lane, she calls it—lined with thousands of white hydrangeas. She didn't have a garden when she was a child, she says. "All I had was the hydrangea bush that was in front of my grandmother's porch." Hallelujah Lane is a living, blooming homage to her grandmother. White-pink Sombreuil roses (above), which were developed in the 1880s, climb the wrought-iron arches, while the newer, pure-white Iceberg roses surround the statue.
"I can get excited over little things," Oprah says as she walks past a patch of artichokes and green peppers. "I see a basket of heirloom tomatoes from my garden, and it's so beautiful that I have to take a picture. Just the bounty of it, the fact that this just came out of the ground, the fact—oh, I can go on and on about the tomatoes until people say, 'Hey, it's a tomato!'"
In a grassy meadow near an avocado orchard, an enormous live oak tree holds center stage, its branches bending and twisting far out on all sides. It's Oprah's favorite tree. "At one point, I was advised to put some steel beams underneath to hold her arms up. I had the groundskeepers take them out because I thought she would be embarrassed."
Oprah repeats, with emphasis, "She."
Would wooden supports have done better?
Oprah pauses. "Yes. But she doesn't want them. She'll stand as long as she can. When she's ready to go, she'll go."
As I returned to my home, I thought about grout, how it holds things together. To care about grout is to care about more than a tiny detail; it's an expression of making everything matter. For Oprah, everything is essential to her whole vision. "I love my home," she says. "My home is a gift."
Where Oprah Goes to Get Away from It All
Go inside Oprah's Hawaiian retreat
Tour Oprah's library in California
7 roses Oprah loves