Gardens & Grounds



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Montalvo Arts Center is remarkable in no small part because of its rich tapestry of formal and informal gardens. Miles of hiking trails that meander through the restful forests adjoining the gardens give visitors additional opportunities to connect with nature’s majesty.

The gardens are home to many species and varieties of plants both native and exotic. A centerpiece is the formal Italianate Garden which features towering Cypress trees, fragrant citrus, and hundreds of white roses. Other highlights include the Phelan Cactus Garden which showcases colorful and fanciful plant forms; the Blue Garden featuring plantings of "blue" succulents, palms, and shrubs; and the stately Great Lawn, home to gorgeous trees and countless picnickers on summer days. 

The grounds are also a stunning setting for works of outdoor art. As part of Montalvo’s Art on the Grounds program, sculpture, installation, and sound art—both historic and by contemporary artists—are on view for the public’s enjoyment year-round.

As a member-supported non-profit organization, Montalvo relies on its volunteers and donations to sustain the legacy of Senator Phelan and complete work on projects such as the rehabilitation of the Italianate Garden. Donations to our gardens are a great way to give back to the community and are welcome in any form. If you want to spend some time volunteering to work on the garden, donate a tree, or make a much-needed tax-deductible cash contribution, please contact Volunteer Resources at 408-961-5828. 

Montalvo's Garden Curator: Del McComb

  • The Belvedere Belvedere

    Restored in 2013 with a grant from the Santa Clara County Historic Society, the beautiful open architecture of the Belvedere makes it a fine resting spot after returning from a ...

  • The Blue Garden Blue Garden

    Inspired by the fantastical garden at Lotusland in Montecito, this newer garden makes use of bold "blue" foliaged succulents, shrubs, and trees.  With a large beautiful Spanish Blue Fir (Abies ...

  • Montalvo's historic Villa Great Lawn

    Redesigned and completely replanted in 2012, the one-and-a-half-acre Great Lawn is the centerpiece and hub of Montalvo's grounds and gardens. The setting for countless picnics, concerts, arts installations, and ...

  • Great Lawn Border Garden Great Lawn Border Garden

    This large area that runs the south-eastern length of the Great Lawn is home to abundant established trees and shrubs as well as many new plantings. A number of new ...

  • The Italianate Garden. Italianate Garden

    The historic Italianate Garden at Montalvo is situated across from the Villa and its sprawling Great Lawn. A testimony to the legacy of Senator James Duval Phelan, it is a ...

  • The Lilian Fontaine Garden Theatre Lilian Fontaine Garden Theatre

    The Lilian Fontaine Garden Theatre, located behind the Villa on a sloping hill surrounded by trees, has been a performance venue at Montalvo since the days of Senator Phelan, who ...

  • The mermaid statue in the pond along the walkway. Mermaid Pond

    With a generous grant from the Santa Clara County Historical Grant Program, this serene pond and surrounding areas were restored and replanted in 2013.  The pond itself features a provocative ...

  • The Oval Garden Oval Garden

    This intimate garden serves as the elegant backdrop for many of the wedding ceremonies that take place at Montalvo. Plantings of hydrangeas, wisteria, and roses surround an oval lawn, which ...

  • Hen and Chicks plant in the Cactus Garden Phelan Cactus Garden

    Senator Phelan created this garden in the 1920s to showcase interesting and unusual plants including two Ponytail Palms (Beaucarnea recurvata). Over time, the surrounding trees grew and created the shadier ...

  • The Spanish Courtyard Spanish Courtyard

    Framed on three sides by the Villa and on the fourth by a dramatic wall fountain, this "sunken" courtyard is a favored location for wedding receptions and summer luncheons. Surrounding ...