Google: How Do I Visit Google Headquarters?

Google headquartersI have visited the Google headquarters in Mountain View several times because I know some Googlers. At last, you can visit Google without a Googler guide. They have opened a new visitor center in the Googleplex at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View so everyone can visit. Google has also opened a cool park across the street that is closed to the public during the week (Googlers only) and open to the public on the weekends. There is also a gift shop with everything branded Google.

Google provides alternative transportation: bikes for around the Google campus and buses for the employee commute.
Google provides alternative transportation: bikes for around the Google campus and buses for the employee commute.

You may be wondering why anyone would want to visit Google Headquarters. It is fascinating and could be a model for the corporate workplace of the future. While it is not a destination in itself, it makes a fun stop for a day in Palo Alto or San Jose.

Garden furniture provides an alternative meeting or workspace next to the raised garden beds.
Garden furniture provides an alternative meeting or workspace next to the raised garden beds.

My Googler friend met us at Building 43 to sign in and get our name badges. On our way from our street parking we passed the brightly colored Google bikes. These are provided to employees so they can grab a bike and go to other buildings on campus.

Charlie's Cafe is home to all employee meetings although with over 50,000 employees most people participate remotely.
Google auditorium in Charlie’s Cafe is home to all employee meetings although with over 50,000 employees most people participate remotely.

We were able to see the main campus gym, swimming pool, volleyball courts, and laundry facilities. The aim is to make it easy for employees to maintain balance in their life and hence increase their productivity. There is also a lot of free food and beverages available–either from small kitchens in each building or in the dozens of restaurants.

Cafe named for first
Cafe named for first “Google dog”.

Dogs are also welcome at work 2 days a week. They even get their own id tags!

Need to
Need to “hangout” on Google without taking up an entire conference room? Step into this modern phone booth.

The campus atmosphere is casual and collaborative. Of course it is wired for technology, but the most thought has been put into providing a variety of spaces for people to connect.  Check it out.

Fun Day Out at Filoli

Filoli Garden HouseMy friend Sandy accompanied her young son to a summer school program at Stanford University and it gave us an opportunity to catch up. We met up in Palo Alto and drove 30 minutes north to the home and gardens at Filoli in Woodbridge.

One of two full size knot gardens at Filoli.
One of two full size knot gardens at Filoli.
These two volunteers are members of the local Bonsai club and maintain the bonsai knot garden.
These two volunteers are members of the local Bonsai club and maintain the bonsai knot garden.

Floli is a gracious estate. It was built by the Bourn family in the years after the great San Francisco earthquake and fire in 1906. The Bourn’s wealth came in part from the Empire Gold Mine in Grass Valley, California. The name of the estate is derived from the first two letters of the key words of the family credo: Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.

The Filoli grounds are full of organic inspired sculptures.
The Filoli grounds are full of organic inspired sculptures.

The gardens are among my favorite and this is the first time I have visited during the summer. Everything was lush and blooming. We enjoyed speaking with two volunteers shaping the miniature knot gardens.

Filoli home entranceThe home is decorated in a traditional (and stuffy) style. We did love the kitchen–especially the aqua cupboards. We also loved the sculpture scattered throughout the grounds and buildings.

Love the retro kitchen!
Love the retro kitchen!

‘There is a gift shop with nursery plants for sale and some interesting garden furniture.  We ate lunch at the Filoli Cafe. The sandwiches were fresh and delicious; however, there was entirely too much reliance on plastic containers. There are indoor and outdoor dining options.

Filoli gift shop and nursery
Filoli gift shop and nursery

Admission is $18 for an adult. Filoli is open Tuesday through Sunday, mid-February to late October. The hours may change and generally 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Filoli is located 86 Canada Road, Woodbridge, California.

Garden of Wonder and Delight

Carrots in the Candelabra!
Carrots in the Candelabra!

Recently my friend Cameon invited me to join her for a preview of the Museum of Wonder and Delight in Folsom, California. UC Davis Design Professor Dolph Gotelli, an internationally renowned collector of 19th and 20th century toys, folk art and games. The Museum will showcase his collections and opens this fall in old town Folsom (at 905 Leidesdorff Street across from Karen’s Bakery facing the plaza).Blue glass in the garden

A fundraiser sponsored by the UC Davis Design Department followed in a 2 acre garden in Granite Bay to benefit the museum. The garden was fun and beautiful and full of whimsey.

20150620_142000 mosaic wakways

Larnach Castle is Worth the Effort

The mansion known as Larnach Castle and its extensive gardens are open to the public. There is an admission charge unless you are staying overnight in the lodging. It is about 20-30 minutes on a narrow, windy road from the Dunedin City Centre, South Island, New Zealand. It is worth the effort.

Larnach Castle, Dunedin, New Zealand
Larnach Castle, Dunedin, New Zealand

It was built by William Larnach,who was a bit of a scoundrel, in 1871. It took over 15 years to build, finish the interiors and furnish. Larnach was a merchant and politician who ended a bankrupt suicide. The house fell into dereliction for years and then in 1967 the Barker family bought and restored it. Margaret Barker searched high and low for the original furnishings or photos to return the home and its gardens to its former glory.

The home is impressive. I am always more interested in the gardens and they are lovely. Larnach Catstle Garden, Dunedin, New ZealandLarnach Catstle Garden, Dunedin, New Zealand

Larnach Catstle Garden, Dunedin, New Zealand

Larnach Catstle Garden, Dunedin, New Zealand
Incomparable views of Dunedin.

Larnach Catstle Garden, Dunedin, New Zealand

Castle annex with cafe, toilets and plants for sale.
Castle annex with cafe, toilets and plants for sale.

Postcard to UK Sarah: Christ’s College Fellows’ Garden

At the risk of making you very homesick I offer this gallery of photos from the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College. I thought it was interesting that after repeatedly admonishing us not to walk on the lawn, the Fellow’s “lead you round the garden path” and leave you to walk the last 100 yards across the lawn.  This pigeon is larger and healthier than its American cousin but a wee bird compared to the New Zealand wood pigeon.  I loved the super healthy hydrangea, the mix of succulents and hosta, and the magnificent trees (including a mulberry planted by John Milton).  

Postcard: New Gateway to UC Davis Arboretum

Today the new archway to the Gateway Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum was dedicated. The artist, Christopher Fennell, used shovels donated from the community to create this unique entrance. The arboretum is under construction and will extend the gardens from Gateway Housing to the Davis Commons Shopping Center. If you want to walk there, you can park in the shopping center (Whole Foods and Gap) at 1st and D Street and find it at the back of the parking lot.  This new archway makes a fitting entrance. 

Christopher Fennell just completed the Shovel Gateway for UC Davis Arboretum

The Arboretum is just off Highway 80 (main campus exit) and provides a peaceful and beautiful place to walk or bike and enjoy diverse gardens. The University and Davis community have collaborated to create a multi-dimensional educational experience–from a teaching nursery (with great plant sales) to a native plant garden with informative interpretive signs. I especially like the oak grove with beautiful ceramic benches and a public restroom covered in amazing ceramic murals. 

Ceramic mural on public toilets next to Peter J Shields oak grove.