Explore BAO Events
Plan Your Own
The entrance to Villa Montalvo invites you to walk down a path into the Italianate Garden that is intermingled with flowers, foliage and trees as well as Italian style sculptures. The garden was designed by George Doeltz with advice from John McLaren, Superintendent of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. They have planted trees along the path and throughout the garden that originate from around the world such as Kashmir Cypress (Cupressus darjeelingensis) from the eastern Himalayas, Blue Needle Palm (Trithrinax campestris) from Argentina, and Eucryphia milliganii from Chile.
Tour group at garden entrance
White rose Sculpture
Resting bench Sphinx sculptures
More sculptures among the flowers
The path leads to the favorite home of James Phelan (1861-1930), a historic landmark built in 1912. Phelan was one of California's first popularly-elected U.S. Senator. The path to the home is lined with trees and an expansive green lawn.
Trees along the path to the house
Road to Phelan house Lawn flowers
To the north of the Italianate Garden is the Phelan Cactus Garden created by Senator Phelan in the 1920's, which displays a variety of succulents and cacti.
Phelan cactus garden
On other areas of the grounds, there is the Blue Garden that is home to large Spanish Firs and plants with bluish or grayish foliage including the Karoo Cycad (Encephalartos lehmanii) from South Africa, a Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata), and Pelt's Blue Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis 'Pelt's Blue'), a hybrid Cypress from the Pacific Northwest. The Bird Garden is located nearby the Blue Garden, underneath Cameron Hockenson's Control Tower sculpture that is composed of numerous bird houses attached to an evergreen tree, and was designed to attract birds.
Blue garden plantings
Phelan’s Mediterranean-style house on the hill and the surrounding gardens have a total size of 175-acres if the Arts Center is included. There are $10 per person two hour walking tours of the home and the arts center led by docents. Reservations are required. lease see below for photos inside the home.
House on the hill
Stairway with stained glass Musical window
Dining room Fireplace
Rooms and furniture