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.
With the many annuals in full bloom, the Sunken Garden is stunning from a distance and as you stroll the paths studying each of the plants.
The corridor through the heart of the Walled Garden is a feast for the eyes!
As the tree roses, like this 'Double Delight', begin to flower in earnest, the Chartres Cathedral Window, with a floor of yellow and mauve wallflowers, should not be missed.
As the flowering Gold of Ophir rose (Rosa x odorata 'Pseudindica') eagerly climbs the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), surrounded by pink and purple wisteria, who cannot stop and stare in admiration.
The Historic Iris Border keeps getting better and better this season. Expect it to be at its best then next couple weeks.
A week later, the Filoli gate, graced by a lovely Japanese wisteria, is breath-taking.
Week of April 24– April 30, 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.
This week begins the period when we will be installing sculptures throughout the garden. Entitled, Filoli Inspirations: Sculpture Exhibit in the Garden, this year’s exhibit is an homage to the different pieces of art throughout the garden. Also, as part of this year’s exhibit, we will be have informational signs beside many of the pieces of Filoli garden art explaining their origins and mediums. The exhibit runs May 16 – November 5.
Many later-blooming wisteria are flowering around the house and in locations around the garden. In particular, the Japanese wisteria are looking lovely.
Like a puffy, pure white cloud, the Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus) will be at its peak of bloom this week. Best viewed from the west end of the Sunken Garden, the tree is the perfect accent as one gazes across the annual beds, toward the clock tower.
Don’t miss the lilacs blooming on the east and west sides of the Yew Allée. Decadent trusses of fragrant flowers are poised to fill your noses and hearts with spring beauty.
Dozens of impressive tree peonies are blooming in the southwest corner of the garden. Rich pinks and purples, golden yellow and rusty orange are a feast for the eyes.
The herbaceous peony bed in the Cutting Garden has begun to bloom. Beyond our historic white and pink variety, there are a dozen other varieties to help extend the season of blooms available for our Flower Arrangers and guests. All of our varieties are the low-chill types, ones that require fewer hours of cold (below 40°F) temperatures in order to bloom well. Some varieties require 1000 hours of cold, whereas ones that do well for us are in the 500-700 hour range. Many parts of the Bay Area don’t even receive 500 hours, hence the struggle to get peonies to bloom.
The Historic Iris Border, amongst the lilacs on the west of the Yew Allée, has dozens of different varieties at their peak of bloom.
There are still some Camellia japonica and C. reticulata cultivars blooming around the garden.
As the peak of the bulb display begins to fade, oodles of spring-flowering trees, shrubs and perennials are absolutely spectacular. The list includes flowering cherries, redbud, lilac, bearded iris, and many others.
Roses. The climbers are in full bloom or beginning to bloom. The Lady Banks (R. banksiae ‘Lutea’) and Gold of Ophir (R. x odorata ‘Pseudindica’) are in bloom. Some of the Rose Garden and Chartres shrubs have also begun flowering.
The Camperdown elm, with its gnarled branches bare to the world, is a spectacular sight to behold. The large leaves are beginning to unfurl on our trees and soon will become an umbrella of foliage.
There is much color in the annual beds throughout the garden. Foreget-me-nots are blooming in many beds as seas of beautiful blue. In the Chartres Cathedral Window garden, the mauve ‘Little Kiss Lilac’ and golden ‘Citrona Yellow’ wallflowers are stunning. The Sunken Garden is a riot of color with baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii), catchfly (Silene dioica), and columbines (Aquilegia ‘Swan Pink and Yellow’ and ‘Clementine Rose’).
Annual bed weeding, grooming and replacing
Property clean up of winter storm damage
There is a new lath screen near the VEC Room D parking lot. As part of the new visitor flow from the Visitor’s Center to the House and Garden, we had to clear the bank of native shrubs blocking this view. We have planted the area with new native shrubs, but until they fill in the area, the lath screen will help block this parking area from view.
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