A Visit to Filoli

Filoli is an estate – a mansion and many acres of surrounding land and gardens – in the Bay Area. It is on Garden Design’s Best Botanical Gardens list. For my birthday (which was this past weekend), I treated myself to a visit.

It was well worth the visit!

Filoli was created in the early 1900s by a wealthy couple – the Bournes – who made most of their money during the California Gold Rush of the 1800s. The name Filoli comes from Mr. Bourne’s guiding life principle: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” Fi-Lo-Li. They along with their only daughter died in an unfortunate series of events in 1936, and the estate was bought by another wealth family – the Roths. Mrs. Roth donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975.

Map Labels Restrooms

The whole place was beautiful! There was a mix of formal, groomed garden spaces…

….intermingled with edible plantings.

There are vegetables planted in these beds.

I spent four hours there, and I probably could have stayed longer. It would have been nice to come back in different seasons.

The cutting garden
The two “knot gardens” were incredible. This photo doesn’t do them justice.
Giant, old, magical campersdown elms – it is rare to have elms this old as they had to have survived Dutch Elm Disease. There is a campersdown elm in the front yard at my dad’s house…I wonder if it will get to be this size some day.
Small pots of purple pansies were repeated throughout the gardens.
There was an extensive rose garden, but we’re just past peak rose season here. It was still quite fragrant.
Some of the vegetable beds. I love long tidy rows like this
Some of the fruit orchard – all sorts of pears, apples, apricots, peaches….
I also toured inside the house
Each of the rooms was decorated in either the style of the Bournes (1920s-esque) or the Roths (1960s).
There were bouquets throughout the house made from flowers picked from the gardens.

Two thumbs up for Filoli! What a great way to spend a birthday!

Leave a Reply