Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Visit to Filoli


I wanted to visit the gardens again at Filoli while I was back in the Bay Area in June. Its been awhile since I’ve been here and I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful roses and transition to summer flowers in the various gardens.

It’s wonderful to see a well run organization with lots of support at Filoli. I was impressed with all the gardeners, docents and other volunteers helping to make every visit special. Starting with our volunteer docent Donna, she gave an educational and entertaining two hour visit to the home and


The tour began with the gardens since it was cooler in the morning, and the grounds were not too crowded,  leaving ample space to have great discussions to the various rooms and their history and for picture taking.


We entered the sunken garden facing the garden pavilion and pond. A stand of delicate purple alliums popped out with huge purple globes dotting the walled border, along with salvia and cotinus coggygria in the background.

A detail of an allium head.

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.


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 home were decorated with impressive floral displays from  experienced floral volunteers that have worked here for many years.


On the other side of the tea room is the rose garden and it is an amazing collection! Every rose and experimental variety seemed to be perfectly displayed and cared for in this garden. 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 just starting to come out into full glory, I would love to see this place again in a few more weeks to see even more glorious summer display.


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 topiaries 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 glassed effect which is what the owners wanted in this garden.

Lots of beautiful sitting areas including this bench and arbor covered with this dazzling display of creamy white to peach roses.

Purple irises and blue campanula, create a sea of calm in this section of the walled garden.


A beautiful shady parterre garden with just planted summer blooming plants, (I’m guessing zinnias). This all green room will be bursting with hot colors in a few more weeks.


From the parterre, I spot a beautiful ornate gate leading into the orchard and flower cutting beds and further down into the Irish yew corner where the one and only official family wedding took place at Filoli, a restriction the owners wanted before deeding the property to the non-profit organization.


Many of the fruit trees like these bartlett pears are starting to develop fruit, this one looks loaded with fruit already.  The gardeners experimented with espaliered techniques to add more trees and to include a design element into the orchard.


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, berberry, lavender and rosemary, and thyme.


All the masses of colors are so beautiful clumped in large clusters and the red berberry interspersed to introduce the knotting effects.


Surprisingly the working kitchen garden was very small, I’m assuming that since the home is not in full use, the kitchen garden is mostly used for display and some of the greens grown to be used in the café.


There were large sections utilized for the cutting gardens so the beautiful floral displays throughout the home could utilized a plethora of year round flowers available for arrangements.
Below is one of the areas showing beautiful beds developing new flowers plants.


It was a full day touring the home and gardens so at this point, I think I will end for now and continue in the next post to show more rooms and then the beautiful exteriors to the home.

This is my contribution to June garden bloom day, to visit more gardens around the world go to


James David said...

This garden is truly inspiring.
All look so beautiful.
I really like those peach roses - it looks so wonderful.

I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Check it out in my latest post. You have a great day!

Commonweeder said...

I visited this garden years ago. It is so beautiful and varied. Wonderful photos!

Mark and Gaz said...

Stunning photography as always Noel!

Amy Farrier said...

Wow! I love a wild garden best, but the grand scale of this formal garden makes it pretty stunning. And I'm with you on the herb and knot garden; beautiful masses of color!

HolleyGarden said...

Oh, how lovely! Those allium are wonderful - they make me smile. And there's nothing I love more than boxwoods and roses. Thanks for showing so much of this beautiful garden. Great inspiration!

garden girl said...

Aloha, Noel. Beautiful blooms. Love your angel's trumpet header photo!

Alison said...

What a gorgeous garden! Thanks so much for introducing me to yet another wonderful Bay area garden. I am hoping some time next year to get down there for a tour of some gardens and garden centers.

joene said...

Beautiful ... thanks for the tour, Noel.

dorothy said...

I've visited Filoli a couple of times. And while formal gardens are not my favorite, I absolutely love the way the gardens are done at Filoli. Just enough formality to give structure. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos!

Rosie@leavesnbloom said...

Beautiful photographs Noel and they remind me of so many formal gardens here in the UK especially with their herb knot gardens and all of those blooms from the herbs.

Cassi said...

Gorgeous photos! How lovely to tour such a beautiful garden.

Desert Dweller said...

The various knot and intertwined plantings you show work nicely - those rarely appeal to me, but here they do...thanks! Of course, the carefully-placed color in pots - by the pool and hedges or along the grassy path - are what grab my attention the mos..."awesome"!

Jennifer said...

Hi Noel, I had to look through a few times. What a fantastic garden! It would be hard to pick a favourite view, but I love your shot of the alliums and I can't believe the size of the creamy-peachy roses in another of your shots.

Unknown said...

What a lovely garden. Thanks for the tour. I've just brought back some allium bulbs from Toronto. The flowers are purple. Hope they thrive in the tropics.

Autumn Belle said...

Beautiful photos and a story well told. I am looking forward to the next part.

Cindy, MCOK said...

Aloha, Noel, mahalo nui for stopping by my corner of Katy! As a former resident of Oahu's Manoa Valley, I'm always delighted to meet other gardeners who share my love of the Islands. I hope to see Filoli next year and your pictures certainly make me more eager to do so.

antigonum cajan said...

Excellent post. In Puerto Rico, USA gardening is moving in other directions.


Bom said...

Beautiful images. I didn't know about these gardens. Something to look forward to next time we visit.

DG said...

Simply stunning, thanks so much for sharing a garden I hadnt heard of before.

Anonymous said...

soooo beautifull !!!!

Wendy said...

Wow, that place is just stunning! They must have a gazillion gardeners on staff!

Andrea said...

Hi Noel, everything is beautiful there, made more so with your astounding photos. That first one is so magical as if it is an illusion and i love most the knot gardens with all the colors intertwined. Thanks for the tour, as i might not be able to see it in this lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Noel, What a wonderful way to celebrate bloom day! Thanks for taking us all along on a tour of this spectacular garden. -Jean

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