Filoli Gardens in Woodside, California is the perfect place to spend a summer morning to enjoy this historic home and its many beautiful garden rooms. The estate made famous from the television series ‘Dynasty’ showed various parts of the home including the grand bricked entryway, the tea pavilion and and occasionally the swimming pool made famous with the leading lady- diva fights into the pool. What you’ll get to tour at the estate are all the the outstanding garden rooms along with the furnished rooms of the manor. The gardens are immaculate and well maintained with the help of a slew of over 1200 garden volunteers working at Filoli. There are so many photo-worthy areas of this estate to spend some time enjoying a walk outdoors and photographing some amazing flower blooms, the well maintained gardens and the beautiful interiors of the manor.
- Flowering trees in the side garden
Touring the gardens in the morning
The garden tour begins first in the gardens while the blooms are still fresh and colorful in the morning light. The grounds in the early morning are nice and cool and its a great time to take photographs of the garden because the light is still good before the mid-day time frame washes out all the beautiful colors in the garden. It’s not too crowded with the morning tour with ample space to wander and listen to the docent speak. She engages her audience about Filoli’s history, its illustrious owners and the extensive volunteer base required to keep garden looking beautiful and presentable. We entered into the first garden room which is the sunken garden facing the garden pavilion and pond. A stand of delicate purple Allium pops out with their huge purple globes dotting the walled border, along with the red Salvia blooms and Cotinus coggygria in the background, a beautiful vignette isn’t it?
A small and functional kitchen garden is maintained year-round on the property to grow fruits and vegetables for the café. The gardeners take pride in producing organic produce fresh from the garden and serving just ripe and healthy produce exclusively to the café guests and production of other finished goods for sale in the gift store.
The beautiful herb knot garden is in full bloom at summertime, adding color to the intricate knot patterns of the various herb borders. Colorful blooms of santolina, thyme and lavender add layered colors and scented blooms to this section of the garden….just stunning!
The rose garden
Filoli gardens has an extensive rose garden collection with every rose and experimental variety perfectly displayed and well-cared for. No doubt, the organic treatment and over 1200 Filoli volunteers help to make the beds impeccable. (not all gardeners though). The summer displays of roses were out in full glory when we visited with perfectly manicured topiary beds to contain the jewel like reds, yellows, orange and creamy white varieties of roses, too many to name. Perfect beds with trimmed boxwood edges allow you to see the roses closely and even take unlimited whiffs of wonderful scents. You can see that the rose gardens are the main showcase garden at Filoli. Rounded and lined boxed topiary and trimmed green walls add form and texture to the rose garden, and create a green base to make each rose plant shine into a stained glass effect which is what the owners wanted in this garden.
One area of the walled garden had beautiful grass walkways lined with topped Irish yews, pansies and spring
flowers creating a nice vista down to the natural meadow. Just beyond is one of my favorite rooms was the ornate herb and knot garden. The colors were just starting to come out with the various herbs that were blooming. A detailed shot of the various herbs in this garden including Santolina, barberry, lavender and rosemary, and thyme. All the masses of colors are so beautiful clumped in large clusters and the red barberry interspersed to introduce the knotting effects.
The garden pavilion
The garden pavilion over looking the pond was built to just the right scale mimicking the grand brick home. The English renaissance style with the formal gardens is not so common in Bay Area gardens, but it works very well in this naturally preserved environment. A colorful spring bouquet inside the garden pavilion filled with flowers from the cutting gardens. Many of the interior rooms of the manor are decorated with gorgeous floral displays made from experienced floral volunteers that have worked at Filoli for many years.
The estate interiors
There is a separate docent tour of the home interiors and you can also tour the rooms at your own pace. The one thing noticeable about this estate is that it feels comfortable and lived in like a country estate should feel like. The rooms are nicely decorated with beautiful classic furniture matching the home’s Georgian style architecture.
It’s wonderful to see a well run organization with lots of support at Filoli. It truly takes a village of volunteers to make this estate shine and look perfect to its original condition. With over 1200 volunteers working as docents, gardeners and florists, store and café workers, the experience of visiting this home and garden in its wonderful condition is a true testament to how effective volunteering and supporting a local institution is a worthwhile venture.
It’s wonderful to visit Filoli at different times of the year to see changes in the garden and different colors. Summer time is one of the best timeframes to see the annual and perennial blooms, the gorgeous roses and transition to fall plantings. I wrote a post on how to take beautiful pictures of nature and flowers and how to make them pop, take a look at this post if you want to pick up a few more tips to improve on your nature and landscape photography.
If you go
Location: 86 Canada Road, Woodside (30 miles south of San Francisco)
Hours are 10-3:30pm Tues – Saturday, Sunday 11-3:30
Admission $15 for adults, $12 Seniors $5 students
Check out the Filoli website here
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