May 10, 2010

Filoli Country Estate and Gardens

South of San Francisco, lies Filoli Country Estate and Gardens, a lovely early 20th century American traditional country estate. Take a stroll through the gardens with me!
And my grandson, Otis
End of the day, a load of clippings.

Spring Visit to a Country Estate

When friends suggested, recently, that we visit the Filoli Country Estate and Gardens south of San Francisco, we jumped at the chance to tour an authentic country estate. We toured the three-story mansion and formal gardens, a National Trust for Historic Preservation site situated amongst rolling hills dotted with giant live oak trees. Filoli is one of the finest remaining country estates dating back to the early 20th century. The estate is a well-preserved example of the cultural tradition and natural history of early American country estate way of life.

Filoli has been the setting over the years for a number of feature films as well as television series (Heaven Can Wait, Dynasty, Joy Luck Club, The Game, George of the Jungle, Wedding Planner, to name a few). Readily apparent is the attention to detail in the home interior and the surrounding formal gardens. A legion of fourteen gardeners takes care of the extensive flowerbeds, shrubbery, pools, and orchard.

Red brick interlocked tapestry walkways are lined with periwinkle forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) and potted spring pansies define steps. Multi-colored foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) spires grace pathways between garden areas. Japanese cherry trees, sakura, (Somei Yoshino) laden with pale pink blossoms branch like an umbrellas over hidden benches. Near the pool pavilion, the Japanese maple, ‘Crimson Queen,’ displayed its burgundy profusion. More than eighty Japanese maples can be found around the estate gardens. Double flowering Japanese Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda ), dark purple blossoms draped from the roof along the entire south wall of the mansion. The gentlemen’s orchard, European olive ‘mission’ (Olea europaea) was planted about the same time as the gentlemen’s orchard around 1918 and is an original landscape feature. The estate cares for over 1200 fruit trees providing harvested fruit for donation to area needy food programs.

The Filoli Nature Preserve occupies most of the 580 acres beyond the house, garden, and orchard. It is an outstanding area for nature education, offering a variety of ecosystems within a compact area including mixed forests, redwood stands, chaparral, riparian, pond and cultivated grasslands.

Up coming, is the Filoli Estate Mother’s Day Weekend Flower Show. Over 60 professional and amateur designers fill the house and areas of the garden with creative flower vignettes along with children’s floral entries, and garden art. A regional favorite, the Flower Show is an early sell-out. On the other hand, Mother’s Day finds Montana gardeners on the cusp of throwing open windows and doors to let in some chilly, fresh spring breezes with a ‘flower show’ at least two months away!

A sure treat is a trip to a warmer clime during our lurching Montana spring. Balmy air warms the gardener while a visit to a place like the Filoli Estate and Gardens lifts a gardener’s spirit to appreciate possibilities.

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