Find out what’s blooming at Filoli from January to December.
Learn about Filoli plants and gardening practices—ask the experts.
Plant Highlights This Week
Flowers are one of the most pronounced markers of the progression of time in a garden. Each month we scout the Garden for amazing blooms and feature our favorites here. Check back often to see what we have in store for your next visit to Filoli.
Weeks of February 8 –
February 14, 2016
Compared to last winter, this year has been much more “normal.” With regular rain throughout December and January, the moisture, combined with cooler temperatures have created a more typical assortment of blooms for early February.
Camellias-Camellias-Camellias! For the most part, the camellias throughout the garden are absolutely stunning for opening week. Most of the Sasanquas still have some blooms, and the Japonicas loaded with flowers.
Early spring (well, technically mid-winter) means magnolia blooms. Several are starting this week including the Yulan (M. heptapeta) in in the Walled Garden, ‘Helen Strybing’ M. campellii in the Main Courtyard, and M. denudata on the west side of the main house. Magnolia doltsopa in the Magnolia Border along the front drive is also near full bloom. And if you can get to a flower, without stepping on the lawn, be sure to stick your nose inside and take in the exotic fragrance.
Late winter is definitely the time to enjoy the structure of the formal garden. Hedges are tightly clipped, fruit trees are expertly pruned, and the intricate layout of the walled garden is on full display. If you enjoy getting a feel for the “bones” of the garden’s design and an appreciation for what Bruce Porter, Arthur Brown, Jr., Bella Worn, the Bourns and the Roths have created, the winter is the time to take in their collective vision and creativity.
The winter daphne (D. odora ‘Aureo-marginata’) are at the peak of bloom and perfuming many corners of the garden.
The Camperdown Elm with its gnarled branches, bare to the world, is a spectacular sight to behold. Last year we were terribly troubled by squirrels chewing the bark and girdling the branches of these trees. This year (knock-wood), the trees are being left alone.
There are faint and strong hints of color in the annual beds throughout the garden. Many of the violas are blooming, as are the baby-blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii) in the Sunken Garden.
Naturalized daffodils throughout the garden are blooming away. Although not at their peak, you can’t go anywhere in the garden and not spy a daffodil or paperwhite blooming from where you are standing.
Speaking of daffodils, a generous donor has made a promise of an annual gift for the next 10 years in an effort to develop, market, and bring notoriety to our daffodil collection. [Filoli is one of only 25 Daffodil Display Gardens recognized by the American Daffodil Society (http://daffodilusa.org/about-ads/display-garden-program/approved-display-gardens/).] With this first gift, we purchased 2500 top-size ‘Dutch Master’ and ‘Exception’ daffodils for the Daffodil Meadow. These can be seen at the lower (north) end of the meadow in blazing golden yellow.
The many daffodil pots will begin to come down from the nursery to the garden soon. The very early ‘Cragford’, began blooming two weeks ago and will welcome guests at the Visitor’s Center entrance.
Continue winter pruning of deciduous, woody trees, shrubs and vines.
Annual bed weeding
Renovation of the Dutch Garden Pittosporum and boxwood hedges
Notes and Common Questions
An old friend that left the garden for a few months has returned! The beautifully restored Bourn door, originally from the Bourn’s Webster Street home, was just rehung this week. Greg Clayton, who restored the pocket doors at the Webster Street home, was commissioned to redo our door. It is, in a word, STUNNING!
Drought / El Niño Status
Our rain total for the 2015-16 season is at nearly 22 inches thus far. We are cautiously optimistic that this season will bring normal rainfall (33.50” average) or more. At this point, we are planning to continue with some of our drought efforts implemented the past two years, but not necessarily to the same degree. One of our goals this year is to trial some low-water turf varieties to find some alternatives for the future. More on this as we move forward with the project.
Bloomin’ Bucks Program
Whenever visitors, volunteers or anyone else asks about where Filoli purchases our bulbs, after telling them that the bulk of our bulbs are purchased wholesale from the Netherlands, I tell them the best retail vendor in the US that I know is Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Brent Heath’s family has long been in the bulb business and because of their lasting relationships with the Dutch growers, Brent and Becky are able to sell top quality bulbs. If Filoli could afford to buy all of their bulbs from this company, we would.
As part of the company’s commitment to public gardens, schools and other non-profits, Brent and Becky established the Bloomin’ Bucks program. With each purchase from Brent and Becky’s through the program, the designated non-profit receives 25% of the funds. Filoli is a participant in this program. So, if you’re planning to order bulbs this year, and like Brent and Becky’s products, please go to the Bloomin’ Bucks page (www.bloominbucks.com) to start your purchase by choosing Filoli as your non-profit of choice. From there, you will be sent to the regular Brent and Becky’s Bulbs website to start your shopping.
Written by Jim Salyards, Filoli’s Head of Horticulture