Filoli celebrates 100 years with excursions, events, and exhibits.
Year of the Garden
Stories told of Filoli history, propagation, and planting.
Find out what’s blooming at Filoli from January to December.
Learn about Filoli plants and gardening practices—ask the experts.
Flowers are one of the most pronounced markers of the progression of time in a garden. Each week 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.
A typical winter daphne (Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata') in the garden this week: full of flowers and FULL of fragrance.
The first set of daffodil pots in full bloom this spring are 'Bantam' on the Northwest Terrace.
Lovely flowers of Camellia reticulata 'Shot Silk' gently land in the Bourn-era bird bath in the Walled Garden.
The flowers of Magnolia denudata, an early spring variety, hang on the branches in all different directions, a trait particular to this species.
After my report of the Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) blooming in the Yew Allée last week, many wanted to know where to find it. Here she is, in full bloom, adjacent to the path that bisects the Panel Garden. Cornelian cherry is a species that has small clusters of flowers, which create a haze of sulphur yellow in the otherwise bare branches. Unlike the eastern dogwood, this dogwood does not have the showy pink or white petal-like bracts.
Another early flowering tree is the purple-leaf plum (Prunus ceracifera 'Atropurpurea') in the gateway from the Chartres to the Sunken Garden.
More than a hint, but not much more, of what is to come in the Daffodil Meadow.
Nature in action! A California newt lawing eggs in one of our ponds, in what is obviously a popular spot for egg laying. Note, also, the clusters of eggs that already have developed into premature, tailed newts (efts) nearing their release into the water.
Week of February 20– February 26, 2017
Centennial Celebration of the Garden
We have celebrated the land and we have celebrated the house. Now, it is time to celebrate the GARDEN! This final, and penultimate, centennial year will, hopefully, be the best our guests have ever experienced. Many exciting opportunities and experiences are planned for this year and we plan to have the garden looking smarter and more colorful than ever before.
Be sure to bookmark Filoli’s Centennial webpage, and check back for ticket sales and updates in the coming months.
Filoli’s daffodil donor, who has promised to give $10K, over ten years, toward building, supporting and educating about all things related to this original and important collection, was able to have her 2016 gift matched, giving us $2000 to spend on daffodils. With the funds, we purchased 12,000 (total) ‘Carlton’ and ‘Dutch Master’ bulbs, which were planted along the roadway between the entry bridge and the parking lot. The flowers have begun to bloom, particularly in the sunny spots, and will continue to welcome guests in the coming weeks.
January 2017, as many of you know, will go down in the record books. We received 16.24” of rain, our second wettest month in the 37 years we have kept weather records at Filoli. (As of 02/13/17, we have 39.54”, surpassing our seasonal average of 33.5” with still five more months of the season to go.) And happily, the temperatures have been typical for our winter months. Therefore, the garden is on a much more normal bloom schedule, with much to unfold in coming months.
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.
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. The Recultatas are just beginning to bloom, including ‘Buddha’, ‘Shot Silk’, and ‘Captain Rawes’.
Early spring (well, technically mid-winter) is magnolia time. A few trees are beginning to bloom, but the extremely early Magnolia campbellii ‘Helen Strybing’ is in full bloom. Also in bloom are Magnolia denudata on the northwest side of the house, M. heptapeta along the Magnolia Border and in the Walled Garden, and saucer magnolias in the Front Courtyard. 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.
Some of the early flowering woody plants are beginning to bloom, including the double red flowering apricot (Prunus mume ‘Matsubara Red’), Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), and flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa).
The winter daphne (D. odora ‘Aureo-marginata’) are blooming and perfuming many corners of the garden.
The Camperdown elm with its gnarled branches, bare to the world, is a spectacular sight to behold.
There are faint and strong hints of color in the annual beds throughout the garden. Many of the violas are blooming, as are the wallflowers (Erysimum cultivars) in the Chartres Cathedral Window garden.
Daffodils, both naturalized in the ground, and in containers, are beginning to bloom around the garden. The peak for the daffodils this year will be closer to the Daffodil Daydreams weekend (February 24-26) and into March.
Continue winter pruning of deciduous trees, shrubs and vines.
Annual bed weeding
Rose garden pruning
Notes and Common Questions
Turf and Turf Trials
After recent years of below average rainfall, we have decided we need to educate ourselves on some of turf varieties that might grow well for us with less water. In the North Lawn Terrace area, we have sown or planted 10’ x 12’ blocks for a formal turf trial. The twelve species and blends that we testing are:
1. June grass (Koeleria macrantha)
2. Seashore bentgrass (Agrostis pallens)
3. U.C. Verde buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides)
4. Hachita blue gramma grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Hachita’)
5. Purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra)
6. Pacific hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
7. Molate red fescue (Festuca rubra ‘Molate’)
8. Pacific Coast Seed— Native Ornamental Fine Fescue Blend
9. High Country Gardens— Low Work & Water Fescue Mix
10. Prairie Nursery— No Mow Fescue Mix
11. Barenburg- Water Saver Rhizomatous Tall Fescue Mix
12. California meadow sedge (Carex pansa)
Each block and variety has a corresponding sign telling more about the variety. We will also have similar information about the trial and varieties on the Filoli website.
The intent for the trial is to find one or more that might work for some of our turf areas. In particular, we are looking at areas that are less formal or receive regular foot traffic.
In the fall of 2016, we embarked on a beta testing of the “No Mow Fescue Mix” on the Yew Allée. This variety, which has performed best thus far, will hopefully be a low-water and lower-upkeep turf for this important view corridor.
Ultimately, we will continue the trial through fall of this year. We plan to irrigate 30-40% less compared to what our historic turf blends receive, and, therefore, determine which are the best for the High Place and some of the other higher-traffic and less high-profile lawns.
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