Filoli Sunken Garden April
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Flowers abound at Filoli and the Mill Rose Inn

April 6, 2017 by Mill Rose Inn

Sunken garden at Filoli

Filoli is home to many beautiful flowers.

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.

My favorite rose is the hybrid tea rose. Here is one in our garden at the Mill Rose Inn.

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.

I love sitting out in our garden when I can to enjoy all the beautiful flowers.

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.

outdoor spa


A Few Reasons to Visit this Hidden Gem: Filoli Estate

June 13, 2014 by Mill Rose Inn

Filoli EstateHalf Moon Bay, CA has an awesome combination of beautiful scenery, interesting culture and amazing beaches, making it the perfect places to explore and learn new things. The Mill Rose Inn knows the ins and outs of the area and wants to share the secrets with you! A great local place full of history, beautiful countryside and numerous other things is the Filoli Estate. Here are just a few reasons you should visit the Filoli Estate!


The construction of Filoli Estate began in 1915 for Mr. Mrs. William Bowers Bourn, prominent San Franciscans. The source of their wealth came from the Empire Mine, a hard-rock gold mine in Glass Valley, CA. Mr. Bourn formed the unusual name Filoli by combining the first two letters from the key words of his credo: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” After the passing of the Bourns, Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth purchased the property and maintained it and the formal gardens, which today have gained worldwide recognition. This now 654-acre estate is a California State Historic Landmark and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.


A great way to learn more about the estate’s fascinating history, including the families who founded and maintained the Filoli vision and the architects and designers who made it a reality, is on one of the tours of the magnificent house and splendid gardens. This outstanding showcase of early twentieth-century architecture and garden design is beautiful and is one of the main reasons to visit the Filoli Estate.


The exquisitely beautiful and vibrant gardens of Filoli offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the estate’s renowned horticulture practices or to stroll around and enjoy the serenity for which they were designed.


The stunning 36,000 square foot house is a museum exhibit for an extensive collection of 17th and 18th century English antiques. Wander through the special rooms like the Butler’s Pantry and Kitchen with a walk-in safe or explore the wooden paneled library. The 1925 Ernest Peixotto paintings in the Ballroom are marvelous. The house has 43 rooms, excluding bathrooms and storerooms, that span 17′ high. The interior has tastefully carved moldings, marble fireplaces, inlaid parquet floors and stunning architectural doorways. With several tours to choose from, guests will receive an in depth and interesting overview of the house and gardens. Click here to find the perfect tour for you!


Throughout the entire year, Filoli Estate offers a wonderful array of events and programs. Including the Jazz at Filoli, Holiday Traditions and the popular Afternoon Teas. Experience the tradition of tea from the 18th century in the relaxing and elegant atmosphere of Filoli at an Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea takes place every fourth Wednesday of the month. Makes sure to plan your visit accordingly!


While thinking about the beautiful and historic Filoli Estate, don’t forget to book your stay at Mill Rose Inn. Our Half Moon Bay bed and breakfast has elegantly decorated rooms and suites that offer guests luxurious modern amenities. Relax in the Garden Jacuzzi or wander through our beautiful gardens. And of course, your stay includes a gourmet champagne breakfast each morning so you’ll have the energy to take on the adventures of the day. We look forward to seeing you soon!



Photo courtesy chuck b.