Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Houses

Garden Bloggers Fling 2013: We arrive at Filloli in Woodside, CA on the hottest day of the year. Stumbling from our bus, we scatter, looking for shade. After a visit to the cafe, we decide we need to make the best of it ... and venture forth, determined to soldier on. A nice docent suggests the film room. Ah, it's dark and cool in the center of the building ... we watch the film.

It is surprisingly interesting! It's mostly about William Bourn, II, who built Filoli. But, he also was the owner of a gold mine - the Empire Mine -  in Grass Valley (in the Sierra foothills) where he built a sweet mansion (much less grand), known as the Bourn Cottage.

The stairs leading up to the Bourn House at the Empire Mine

I have been there a few times ... A "Seed" class (yes) I took a few years back received special permission to collect seed from the grounds. There was almost a church-like feeling created by the tall tree canopy. The seed I collected was from the Horse Chestnut tree. Later, we cleaned and labeled the seeds we collected and put them away for their germination period.

Horse Chestnut seeds - non edible ... lots of them lying around, the squirrels ignored them.

In the film, we learned that Bourne spent some time as a young man in Europe. Those castles and estates got to him! 

He had to come home early, however,  perhaps his father died - seems like he had to take on the family business ... which led him to Grass Valley and the gold mines.

I have to include this picture, because whenever I've gone to the Empire Mines (except for the seed field trip), the males in my family have a lot to say, looking at those mining shafts and all that equipment, and stuff.

There's a peacefulness to settings like this one ...

and, this one.

I find I like quiet spaces ... in the mountains, in the garden. If I lived in either of these places, this is where I would spend my time, with a book and a glass of lemonade, watching the birds. Filoli is very grand, and it was fun for me realizing I already had a connection with the man who built Filoli. 

To find out more about the Empire Mines, click here!
To find out more about Filoli, click here!

Whether you need garden design, coac
hing, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! 
Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

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