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Garden History

The Roth Garden (1936-1975)

While the Bourns had the vision to create the gardens, the second family, Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth and their children, carried the tradition forward and preserved the gardens by providing stewardship of the entire place. The Roths ultimately ensured Filoli's preservation by giving it, along with a generous endowment, to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975.

The only change to the original garden design made by Mrs. Roth was the addition of the swimming pool and its pavilion and plantings in 1947. This addition created a new transverse axis and lifted the view across the sunken garden upwards towards the gorge to the west and the backdrop of the Santa Cruz Mountains. She accomplished this feat with the help of Isabella Worn who she retained as a consultant. They supervised the transplanting of yews from the double rank allée in the panel gardens to create an allée north of the pool and the transplanting of olives into the sunken garden where they were planted on both sides of the pool pavilion to tie the sunken garden to the pool pavilion and to help frame the view. It was Mrs. Roth who suggested that the newly transplanted olives should be formally trained with open centers in a formal goblet style in keeping with the formality of the sunken garden. Her other considerations were to control their size and create contrast with the olives growing in the nearby orchard across the lower lawn terrace. As the garden became more shaded by the oaks, Mrs. Roth added camellias, magnolias, tree peonies, maples, and other rare specimen plants.