Sunday, June 12, 2011


Our recent trip up north included a visit with family in Los Altos. Many thanks to Bob and Judy Dahl for taking us to Filoli, a 654-acre country estate built in the early 1900s. It's located in Woodside, 30 miles south of San Francisco, and is considered an American castle. The original owner was William Bourn, whose wealth came primarily from the Empire gold mine in Grass Valley.

While the house is impressive, the English-style gardens are even more so. There are extensive terraces, a sunken garden, a rose garden, herb garden, and much more--even a bonsai collection and very sculptural English plane trees.

The sheer volume of blooming plants is almost beyond belief. I saw more pansies, one of my favorite flowers, than I have ever seen planted in one place. (All those purple flowers in the background above are pansies, and they were everywhere!) We went for an extensive walk around the grounds, then had lunch at the on-site cafe.

BTW: Bourn invented the name "Filoli" by taking the letters Fi, Lo, and Li from his personal credo: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” Personally, I was hoping the Fi stood for something like Fidelity, but there you have it!