If you’re a fan of flowers, a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Filoli. A beautiful estate just a 20 minute drive from the Mill Rose Inn.
Built between 1915 and 1917, the historic estate is simply a delight to come see. The ornate, Georgian-style home that stands on the Woodside property is worth a visit for its old-world elegance. However, one could argue that it’s the surrounding gardens that are the most enchanting.
You are free to explore the property on your own or you can sign up for a guided tour. Either way you will be immersing yourself in all of the lovely colors and fragrances the place has to offer.
We believe the popularity of the estate speaks to the universal appeal of flowers. Have you ever fantasized about escaping your fast-paced life to just relax in a garden? Nestled in the shade on a sunny day, birds chirping, water gently running through a fountain … This stuff is the material for guided meditation tapes for a reason. The gardens at the Filoli Estate and the Mill Rose Inn each evoke this sensual appeal — an ever-shifting bounty of color blooming a variety of graceful shapes.
Daffodils and tulips are currently taking center stage in the garden at Filoli. Soon, however, it will all be about the roses. At the Mill Rose Inn our garden is currently blooming with poppies, hydrangeas and jasmine. A beautiful display of color and scents. Of course, we’re known for our roses too.
In fact, did you know that when Terry and I were first establishing the Mill Rose Inn in the late ’70s we were told by a local nursery that roses don’t grow well on the coast? That we should consider other types of flowers? My European heritage brought me both the love of roses and persistence not to be deterred by this notion. So after doing our own research on what types of roses might thrive in our coastal climate, we went ahead and planted our rose garden anyway.
Today our visitors often remark at how healthy our flowers look. Much of that can be attributed to their care as we have custom organic food prepared for us that results in shiny, healthy green leaves and large flower heads.
You may also notice that our flowers are even more vibrant than the ones you’ll find at Filoli. We have the fog to thank for that. A little more sun comes to Woodside than our coastal town, and the sun will bleach the flowers out a bit which lends them a more pastel-like hue. On the other hand, the addition of a little more sun also intensifies the flower’s perfume.
A man named William Bourn and his wife Agnes are responsible for building the Filoli Estate. After the devastating earthquake and fire struck the Bay Area, many wealthy families moved from San Francisco to the peninsula to build their estates. Filoli is the only one of its era that still stands.
The name Filoli comes from the first two letters of the words Fight, Love and Live. William’s credo had been “To fight for a just cause; to love your fellow man; to live a good life.”
The design came from a combined effort. William hired one man to design the estate and another to design the garden. He even hired one woman whom he tasked specifically with selecting the various plants. All contributed to the style which emulates a Renaissance style with a California flair that can still be observed today.
Filoli is open to the public from February to October. You can book your tickets for Filoli online here but be sure you get there in enough time. Even though they close at 5 p.m., the staff will not let you in after 4:30 p.m., because there’s lots to see.
In addition to regular tours, Filoli offers a variety of special events from jazz concerts in the summer to holiday entertainment. You can learn more about the special events here.
After your stroll through Filoli, you can come back and luxuriate in our private jetted-spa. You could even spend a good portion of your day simply enjoying our garden — watching the world go by from under a gazebo.