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Oprah’s secret garden

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Oprah Winfrey

Surrounded by a sea of rose bushes, hydrangeas and dahlias, US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey’s California teahouse is the one place she can go to get away from it all, writes Janet Sternburg in the June issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

See seven of Oprah’s stunning favourite roses here.

Oprah sits on a sofa in her teahouse facing the view – not any view, but the view, the reason she bought her home, in California’s Montecito, and built the teahouse in this spot.

Through an arched door framed by wisteria, stairs lead down to a long gravel path bordered on both sides by roses. An elegant copper fountain sits right in the centre. Beyond, the path seems to vanish into ocean and islands. Oprah’s attention, however, is not on the view, but on the very near distance. On grout. Yes, the grout on the stone floor.

“I chose the colour of the grout,” she says, “and I chose the particular kind of gravel that was right for the rose garden, and the gravel size would drive most people nuts. But it’s all part of the process for me.”

Five years ago, when Oprah first envisioned this small building, she planned it as a cutting room for flowers. Yet, as she watched the structure take shape, she thought, “I’m going to want this space for myself”.

So rather than equip the room with utilitarian countertops and pruning shears, she and her interior designer, Ellie Cullman, filled it with comfortable furnishings, including a green wicker sofa and armchairs. “This is mud from yesterday,” Oprah says, pointing at paw marks left on the sofa by her white golden retrievers. “That’s what you’ve got to live with,” she adds, proving she’s looking at the long view, too.

The teahouse is where Oprah comes to read, meditate and enjoy a cup of tea. She could listen to music at the touch of a button, but doesn’t. “I don’t want to affect the mood here.” She could transact business here, but doesn’t. “No meetings, ever.”

She may not visit for months at a time, only stopping by when she can really get away. “It’s a commitment when I allow myself to come here,” Oprah says. Yet whether she’s in Montecito, Chicago or Johannesburg, the teahouse – just knowing that it’s there – is, she says, essential to her wellbeing. “It’s my dream, having a place like this. Some people ask, ‘Why do you need more space?’ And I tell them, ‘I need it to restore myself.’ ”

See seven of Oprah’s stunning favourite roses here.

To see exclusive photographs of Oprah’s secret garden and read more about her search for serenity, see the June issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly, out now.

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