By M’Liss Hinshaw | Published Sunday, May 22, 2011
With the fragrance of wisteria in the air, one million daffodils in full bloom stand brightly in meadows near the Santa Cruz Mountains. At Filoli Gardens, forty-eight varieties of daffodils – including 65,000 golden dawns – grace the low-lying meadow between the mansion estate and the foothills.
Filoli Gardens has a long family history, and the name is a compilation from the original owner, Mr. Bourn, whose favorite statement was “fight for a just cause; love your fellow man; live a good life.” From 1917-1929, the family spent many hours developing the gardens to complement their 36,000-square-foot home.
Listed in the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the estate is included in America’s storytelling of old homes and well-groomed grounds. Its 654 acres are an established preserve in Woodside, California, 30 miles south of San Francisco.
Among the 45,000 tulips are fragrant cascading vines, herbs and the largest heirloom orchard garden in the USA. Each fall during the Autumn Festival, over 100 varieties of pears, apples and grapes are lined up with their description and samples for all to eat.
Visiting botanical artists gather to paint the abundant colorful scenery. The day I visited, a room full of artists painted with watercolors and displayed their works for us to see. Scattered among the trails were photographers with elaborate equipment using steady hands to focus their lenses on budding details of flowers from all over the world.
Families pushing strollers, children running around and elderly with canes stroll the many paths to take in the beauty of each natural specimen. When it’s time for a rest, the glass-enclosed café offers light food and drinks in the midst of tulips and daffodils. The garden shop gives everyone a chance to try their green thumb at home, and the gift shop has a whimsical gardening motif.
Besides the gardens, the family house is worth a self-guided tour to view the butler’s pantry and walk into the silver vault, the intricately decorated reception room and the ballroom with painted murals on each wall. In its day, the family entertained frequently, and there is a sense of warmth throughout the estate.
www.Filoli.org is a good start for planning your visit to see an abundance of nature’s beauty.