Rolling Hills mega-mansion grounds hold more surprises

Although Hacienda de la Paz in Rolling Hills is extraordinary for its unseen five subterranean levels, the $53-million ranch estate's eight acres of grounds hold a few surprises too.

A grove of 80- to 150-year-old olive trees brought in from California's Central Valley is harvested for use as oil. There are citrus trees near the bar – lemon, lime and orange – for use in mixed drinks. Table grapes cover an arbor above an outdoor table.


The orchards include more than 26 varieties of fruit and nut trees so that homeowner John Z. Blazevich is never far from a quick snack.

Thyme and oregano are planted between stepping stones through the gardens and release their scent when crushed under foot.  Lavender grows profusely, and rosemary has been trimmed into hedges.

"I wanted an aromatic flower garden," said Blazevich, a seafood importer, "that will call you at night."

Beyond sustenance and beauty, another intent of the landscape design is to keep one looking for what's around the next corner, he said, standing in the shaded driveway while a yard cat named Moneypenny circled his feet.

Moneypenny is one of Blazevich's so-called "serial killers," outdoor cats that patrol the grounds for rodents and rattlesnakes. Tucked into the acreage is a pet sanctuary/cat condo that provides housing for some of the resident felines.

Although Blazevich does not keep horses, he said he has brought them in at times "for effect."  The property is equestrian zoned and has a private bridle trail.

"Hacienda De La Paz is a treasure," said Marcie Hartley of Hilton & Hyland/Christie's International Real Estate, who has the listing of the 50,000-square-foot showplace. It demonstrates, she said, "meticulous attention to detail."