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Filoli Gardens – Woodside, California

April 6, 2012

Filoli was built between 1915 and 1917 for William Bowers Bourn II, who owned one of California’s richest gold mines. Bourn was also the president of Spring Valley Water Company, which supplied water for San Francisco.  San Francisco Architect Willis Polk was the principal designer. Polk’s friend Bruce Porter was commissioned to collaborate with the Bourns in planning the gardens, which were laid out between 1917 and 1922. Horticulturist Isabella Work designed the plantings and fixed the original color schemes and supervised the garden’s maintenance for 35 years.

The gardens and house lie on 16 acres surrounded by 654 acres of estate land.

A few weeks ago I was offered a tour of Filoli by my friend William who works there as an intern. Following are some photographs from the visit. Obviously my photos won’t do the place justice, it must be visited to be truly appreciated. But for those of you who can’t visit I hope these images offer a nice glimpse and perhaps some inspiration.

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Click individual photos, below, to enlarge…

Interestingly, Filoli stands for: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.”

Some of the hedges were unbelievable. The one in the photo below almost looks fake.

An area known as “the wedding place”, photo below…

Below, the knot garden, which weaves a number of lavender (Lavandula spp.) cultivars with lavender cotton (Santolina) and red barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’). The effect is reminiscent of a knot. Attached here is a PDF with additional information on knot gardens, specifically the one at Filoli. The PDF includes diagrams, photographs and species information.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2012 10:08:32 pm

    Beautiful. I am in that area all the time and had no idea this existed. Nice and relaxing- perfect post for a Friday.

    • April 6, 2012 10:08:38 pm

      Thanks for the comment…. Take a trip down there if you have a chance. this is the prime time of year for flowering trees and such. They also have some interesting plants onsale in a small area near the visitors center. is an informative site to check out for info, directions, etc.

  2. April 6, 2012 10:08:35 pm

    What a pleasant surprise to see this post pop up, I was actually thinking of going to Filoli tomorrow and now I am definitely going in seeing how beautiful everything is in bloom. Thanks for sharing.

    • April 6, 2012 10:08:41 pm

      You won’t regret it. I’ll check into your blog for your photos and impressions if you end up going.. Thanks for reading.

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