With the arrival of spring, the formal gardens at Woodside’s Filoli estate are in full flower — and at this time of year, they’re typically full of visitors, too — but since March’s shelter-in-place order, the only way to get a glimpse of the gardens has been via Filoli's Instagram account. Starting Monday, May 11, visitors are once again enjoying the sights and scents of the estate’s 16 acres of gardens in bloom, as portions of Filoli's grounds reopened to visitors.
The gardens and the estate trail, a 1-mile loop through the property’s nature preserve, opened on Monday. However, the estate’s historic 1917 Georgian revival mansion, usually open for public tours, remains closed. Filoli’s Clock Tower Shop, which sells gifts and plants, also reopened on Monday but will be cash-free, taking credit cards only.
“We have been watching the developments in our county, with the reopening of parks and outdoor spaces, and we worked closely with the San Mateo County health officer and our county supervisors to make sure that we had a good plan for reopening,” said Susan O’Sullivan, Filoli’s chief external relations officer.
“We have a desire to be a place of respite and beauty and relaxation for our community in a time that we feel like everyone really needs it,” she said.
Filoli is a country estate built in the early 20th century by the Bourn family. The grounds include a terraced sunken garden, an enclosed English Renaissance-style garden, an orchard and a collection of historic roses.
A one-way route through the garden aims to keep visitors from crossing paths with each other. Daily attendance will also be capped to ensure social distancing. The Clock Tower Shop will sell a selection of plants, including vegetables for home gardens, along with Filoli honey, and spices and vinegars.
O’Sullivan emphasized the importance of all visitors getting their tickets in advance or members making reservations, which ensures a “contactless” experience — no handling cash or tickets at a cashier, for example — and helps the staff maintain the daily attendance limit, which for now is set at 800 visitors.
“We know from experience that we can have up to 1,500 people in the gardens and it really feels like it's not very crowded. So we know we have a much higher capacity on a normal day, but we’re starting with 800, which we will assume will be spread out over the course of the day,” O’Sullivan said. “And then we'll gauge and see from there if we need to bring the numbers down, we will, or if we feel it's safe to add a little bit, then we will as well.”
No seating or drinking fountains will be available and only the restrooms in the Visitor and Education Center will be open. O’Sullivan recommended that guests bring water with them and, as the days have been getting warmer, hats or sunscreen are a good idea as well.
Visitors must wear face coverings, practice social distancing and wash or sanitize hands. All visitors are expected to follow state and Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
Tickets must be purchased online in advance and are required for all visitors, including Filoli members.
If you're interested
Filoli’s gardens reopened on Monday, May 11. The estate is located at 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. Admission is free to members and $20 for adults; $15 for seniors (65+); $15 for students, teachers and military; $10 for children (5-17 years old); free to children under 5 years old.
For more information, call 650-364-8300 or visit filoli.org.