Filoli Historic House & Garden

A Brief History of Filoli

Filoli is a country house set in 16 acres of formal gardens surrounded by a 654-acre estate, located in Woodside, California, about 25 miles south of San Francisco, at the southern end of Crystal Springs Reservoir, on the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Filoli is open to the public. The site is both a California Historical Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The Gardens

The 16 acres of gardens are structured as a series of formally enclosed spaces framed within brick walls and clipped hedges, which open one from another, providing long axial views, in which profuse naturalized plantings of hardy and annual plants contrast with lawns, brick and gravel paths, formal reflecting pools, framed in walls and clipped hedging in box, holly, laurel and yew and punctuated by massive terracotta pots and many narrowly columnar Irish yews, originally grown on the estate from cuttings.


Filoli is an outstanding example of the Anglo-American gardening style reintroducing Italian formality, that was pioneered at the end of the nineteenth century by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll in British gardens and exemplified in the U.S. by designs of Charles A. Platt and Beatrix Farrand.

The gardens extend southeast of the house running up an easy slope. The sunken garden is the first of four main rooms; the rectangular pool at its center that houses hardy and tropical water lilies is flanked by twin panels of lawn and two olive trees, within the hedge of clipped Japanese yew. The walled garden consists of a series of enclosures, including the stained glass window design outlined in clipped box.

The formal gardens include several areas, including the Wedding Place, named for Berenice Roth's wedding location in 1941. Lurline and Berenice both had their wedding receptions at Filoli, but Berenice's wedding is the only one that has ever taken place at Filoli when it was a private home. The largest gardens are working gardens for the production of cut flowers for the mansion and for the growing of some vegetables.

The Orchard

Filoli Gentlemen’s Orchard was started by Bourn family in the early 20th century, however the Roth family did not maintain the orchard and by the 1970s it was in poor condition. In 1997, the California Rare Fruit Growers began donating rare plants to restore the orchard.  Many of the current 650+ trees in the orchard are lost varieties of fruit and include: 275 varieties of apple trees, 59 pear varieties, 42 peach varieties, 6 medlar, and many more.

READ MORE: Filoli, Our Inspiring Venue

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