Filoli Gardens: Spotlight On Sculptures

Michelle Sarmenta

Filoli Gardens is a country estate situated on 654 acres of land in Woodside, California. Visitors can tour the country house, which was built in the early 20th century, plus the expansive 16 acres of gardens that adorn the grounds. There are a variety of events and exhibits throughout the year, one of which is the Summer Sculpture Exhibit that runs from June 2 – September 13.

View from High Place

Local artists showcase their artwork around the gardens; some of the artwork is even for sale. Visitors can meander around the grounds while enjoying both the beauty of nature and the inspiring sculptures.The olive orchard is located at the entrance of the garden, across from the visitor center and café. Placed in a very picturesque spot among the Mission and Manzanillo olive trees is the steel sculptureCarmel Karma,’ by the artist Marilyn Kuksht. The steel blue color and interesting curves sit well among the organic lines of the tree branches.

Sunken Garden, ‘Flow’ by Roger Stoller

The sunken garden is surrounded by exquisitely manicured hedges, trees, and an abundance of flowers. There is a tranquil reflecting pool at the center where the sculpture ‘Flow,’ by Roger Stoller, stands on a pedestal spiraling up toward the sky. The Clock Tower in the background reflects off the pool.

Meadow, ‘Tumble Leaf’ by Karen Cusolito

In the meadow section of the garden, among more olive orchards, rests Karen Cusolito‘s ‘Tumble Leaf.’ An interactive piece, the leaf-shaped steel frame features comfy pillows where visitors can lie down and relax. Traverse the field a little farther to find an interesting basket-like sculpture made of wood, steel and rope, called ‘Foundations,’ by Payson McNett. This area features other unique sculptures as well.Next to the meadow, there is a luxurious pool and pavilion, which is a great place to sit and view the Clock Tower. Set at the far end of the pool is Marilyn Kuksht’s steel sculpture ‘Levels of Involvement.’

Sundial Path, ‘Six of One’ by Dan Good

Head over to the walled garden to experience an explosion of color. Sitting among some lovely orange-pink flowers on the sundial path is a stainless steel sculpture called ‘Six of One,’ by Dan Good. The silver-colored sculpture combined with the backdrop of the colorful flowers is a stunning sight.

‘Chartres Garden Formicida Stirpis’ by Adon Valenziano

Walk toward the Chartres garden and see splashes of pink, red, and white flowers, among which stands an inspiring, bronze sculpture, ‘Formicida Stirpis,’ by Adon Valenziano. This giant ant-like sculpture has intricate extensions that resemble tree branches.


An Irish yew-covered allée (a walkway) leads to the High Place, an elevated area at the southern end of the garden that provides a great view. Along the way, visitors will pass through the rose garden, which is filled with 500 types of roses, the vegetable garden, where huge pumpkins and other vegetables from the squash family are sprouting, and the cutting garden. In the midst of it all, there are more sculptures to view.


The High Place is situated on a semi-circle surrounded by lush trees. This is a great place to sit on a bench, relax, and take in picturesque views of the surroundings. To the west, there is a fruit garden and a daffodil meadow, and just beyond that, there is a large expanse of land that is fenced off and closed to the public. It’s a beautiful area where deer can sometimes be seen eating and wandering around.The country house can be toured as part of the entry fee. There are some exhibit sculptures in the entry courtyard and along the side of the house. At the end of the tour, stop by the gift shop across the way, which sells everything from plants to clothing and jewelry. There is also a section of food items, like honey, jams, and spices, along with gardening tools and decorations. It’s a fun place to shop, with unique items and great gifts. Filoli, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside, CA, USA, +1 650 364 8300
By Michelle Sarmenta

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