This weekend we finally visited magnificent Filoli Gardens in Woodside, California. For a while now, I have wanted to see this gorgeous mansion, which is about 30 minutes drive from San Francisco. We drove between the Santa Cruz Mountains until suddenly we saw the Filoli sign on the side of the road. After towards to a small road surrounded by some fields, we saw some wild turkeys and deer before we he hit the parking lot of Filoli Gardens.
We headed to the visitor center to get our tickets ($20 adults/2016) and to get our brochure of the place. The self-guided tour starts with a 15 minute video in the visitor center, which talks about the history and the two families who lived in the mansion. Next we decided to see the gardens but we accidentally ended up in front of the mansion. Some of you might recognise this building from the hit TV-series of the 80s, Dynasty. This mansion was featured in the opening scene, and it was the home of the Carrington family. The show was mainly filmed in other locations, but some scenes were filmed inside of the mansion. Also many other shows and movies have been filmed here such as Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty, Dying Young with Julia Roberts, The Game with Michael Douglas, The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez, George of the Jungle, Rent and many others.
Originally this mansion was built between 1915 and 1917 to be a home for the Bourn family. William Bowers Bourn II spent a lot of time in Europe and was fascinated by the architecture over there. He brought his ideas with him and used them on this mansion. The name Filoli comes from the motto of Mr Bourn, and from the first letters of "Fight for a cause, Love your fellow man, Live a good life". After the passing of William and his wife, the mansion was sold to the Roth family, who kept growing the gardens and added a pool to it. In 1975 Mrs. Roth donated the place to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and it was opened to the public. Today, the staff and some 1200 volunteers are taking care of this beautiful place.
We started our garden tour from the Sunken Garden, which in my opinion, was one of the most beautiful parts of the whole place. Flowers were blooming everywhere, even in the pond, and little dragon flies were flying around it. We saw several artists concentrating on their colourful paintings. We walked thru the Rose Garden all the way to the Fruit Garden. We stopped at the Daffodil Meadow and in a corner that was full of blooming hydrangeas. In between the gardens there was Yew Allee. The magnificent garden ended at the Wedding Place and the tennis court, from where we headed back to the mansion. I absolutely loved this garden, and if you like flowers you should visit this place for sure. In my opinion, the garden is the main attraction here, and as a plus you will get to visit the mansion too.
From the garden we returned to the mansion where we met a very friendly volunteer. She told us what we would see inside, and what to look for. On this day they had an exhibition of 1920's clothes which could be found from almost every room. Beautiful flower arrangements were situated all over the house and of course, the flowers were from the Filoli Gardens. We got a tip to look down while walking, since each room had a different floor pattern. Only the first floor is open to the public, the second floor has a research library that can be used by the members of Filoli.
After touring the mansion we got hungry and we had lunch in the Filoli Cafe. The food and coffee was very nice, and we enjoyed the outside patio on a sunny summer day. Even a peacock came to say hello to us.
I had heard many good comments about the Filoli Gardens, and now I know why people like it so much. It is magnificent! Even the entrance fee, that first felt a little high, started to feel reasonable since it helps to preserve all these beautiful plants and the place that is mostly maintained by volunteers. Before you go to Filoli, check out their website. They are only open a short time of the day, closed on Mondays and they have many interesting events that could be fun. At least we plan to go back, maybe around Christmas or to the roaring 20's costume party.
For those, who are interested in the movie locations, or what the inside of the mansion looks like, I recommend this Bobbing Along video. And for those who want to refresh their memories of Dynasty, here comes the theme music with the Filoli mansion: