Filoli, a grand Georgian-style mansion, sits in the center of 16-acres of formal gardens on a 654-acre estate at the foot of the western slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Built for the owners of the Empire Mine gold mine in 1917, it was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975 as one of America’s finest private estate gardens.
Designed by Bruce Porter and originally planted by Isabella Worn, the garden was envisioned as a succession of “rooms” containing parterres, terraces, lawns, and pools, arranged between parallel north-south walks.
A sunken architectural flower garden enclosed within precision-clipped box hedges features a reflecting pool mirroring the elegant clock tower. Olive trees clipped in the shape of goblets frame a view to the west of an avenue of trimmed Irish Yews leading to a swimming pool and pavilion.
A mellow brick garden house forms the focal point of the Walled Garden where a grid of gravel paths provide access to formal, box-lined planting beds filled with seasonal annuals and roses.
Shade loving azaleas and hydrangeas are protected by specimen trees. South of the walled garden a long Yew Alle leads up to the High Place overlooking beds of roses, peonies, perennials, a daffodil meadow, an orchard and a knot garden.
Filoli is the most visited of the Trust’s properties and is often very crowded on spring weekends. Use the website to explore the garden and plan the best time to visit.