The gardens at Filoli, while they have evolved over the years, have aged so wonderfully primarily because of the thought that went into their planning at the first construction of the house.The setting is amazing and was why the house was sited here; to take it all in. The gardens adjacent to the house are Georgian in design to fit in with the design of the house and bring the focus to the Santa Cruz Mountains.The planning of the gardens was actually done as a partnership between the Bourns and the artist, Bruce Porter and not with a landscape architect. Above you see a diagram showing the house (the grey U shape in the lower right hand corner) and the gardens. Thanks to ChipSF for the drawing which I took the liberty of coloring in to read clearly.
The house was sited so that the rear would have views of the mountains to the East while the entry was put on the west side which lacked a strong view. An olive grove was planted across from the house's entry court to hide a visible water tower in the distance, seen above.
The rear facade was filled with large french doors which open up onto a flat lawn. This rear garden was kept simple to keep the focus on the mountain views.You can see why: wow! I especially love the fog which you can see creeping through the valley.
Simple as it may be, small touches reside throughout this lawn which bring the vast space down to human scale.The elegant balastrade hides a ha-ha which protects the garden from a lot of the wild-life which prey on all of the greenery. Deer are a big problem. Even on our drive up to the estate in the early afternoon we passed many just waiting to sneak into the gardens!
This dining room door which connects to an enfilade through the hallways of the house lands on a patio where the family could have breakfast. The wall to the right hides the motor court and is the perfect backdrop for a collection of bonsai.
Creeping vines grow over the rear of the house shading the rooms and breaking up the vast expanse of brick.The garage has a clock tower modeled on one by the famous English architect, Christopher Wren. Much of the garden is considered a complete and rare English Renaissance garden.My favorite spot lies just south of the house. A formal garden is centered upon a reflecting pond and rose garden. A summer house, which I'll share with you later this week, is the perfect place to take tea and enjoy the garden.The focus of this more elaborate garden still remains the view of the mountains.
I loved this splayed row of trees which line the walled garden which also creates a shaded path from the summer house to the pool's changing rooms. The best of the gardens is yet to come: stay tuned!