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Sunday, April 20 Easter is Celebrated and Filoli is Closed.

What's Blooming

More Information
baby blue eyes
Drought Response

Filoli’s planned water conservation measures and recommendations.

Blooming Calendar
Blooming Calendar

Find out what's blooming at Filoli from January to December.

Garden Information

Learn about Filoli plants and gardening practices—ask the experts.

Flower Show

Treat your mom to this delightful show — Broadway in Bloom.

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.

All photos taken Monday, April 14, 2014.potted Hyacinths

Baby blue-eyes in the Lower Balustrade bed.

potted Hyacinths

The pink wisteria ‘Rosea’ in full bloom.


Azalea ‘Ward’s Ruby’ west of the Main House.

Garden Happenings
Week of April 14-20, 2014
(Filoli will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 20th)

New Plantings:
The tree peony border at Filoli is not an original feature. While there were historically tree peonies at Filoli in various places in the garden, the border of plants is was not apart of the landscape until 1989. The tree peonies were originally all sourced from the Domoto Nursery tree peony fields in Hayward. Mr. Toichi Domoto was an important hybridizer of tree peonies and Mrs. Roth used to visit his fields in the spring to choose new plants for the garden. When the plants she selected went dormant in the fall, they were dug and brought to Filoli to be planted. In 1989, Mr. Domoto was downsizing his operation and offered many of the remaining plants to Filoli. The southeastern section of the panel garden was deemed the perfect place for this new bed. Over the years, some plants have failed, and new plants have been added. Several new plants were done in honor, but with no visible signs or notation, for some of our Flower Arrangers who have passed away.

These days, our tree peonies are purchased from Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery in Avalon, Wisconsin. Klehm’s is today the preeminent tree peony hybridizer and maintains many of the Domoto Hybrid varieties like ‘Princess Chiffon’ and ‘Brocaded Gown’. With the recent removal of a failed crabapple, and a few other spots that have opened the past few years, we had spots for fifteen new plants. Some of these are new to our border and include ‘Daedalus’, ‘Nike’, ‘Right Royal’, ‘Terpischore’ and ‘Yachiyo-Tsubanki’. One added addition is a species tree peony, Paeonia delavayi, which is a seed-grown species given to us by the Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen, CA. This species produces small, red flowers, but does so on a beautiful, lush plant. The tree peonies are beginning to bloom and should be looking very nice the next month or so.

Plant of the Week:
A spring favorite for the past decade, baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii) have been used each year in one spring garden bed or another. This California native annual has been used for over a century in gardens around the world. Recently moved to the plant family Boraginaceae, it is now considered related to our most common spring annual, forget-me-nots. A quicker than normal growing annual, we sow seeds about five weeks before planting. We have also learned that the seeds are long-lived in storage as we are still sowing from the one-pound bag of seed purchased in 2003. Baby blue-eyes do well with heavy spring rains and therefore are happy in wet years. Besides needing to protect the plants from birds, this is an easy spring annual for your garden.

Plant Highlights:

Filoli has over fifty wisteria specimens throughout the garden!  A number of the plants are still blooming this week, including two Japanese (W. sinensis) varieties, the double, purple variety ‘Violacea Plena’ and pink ‘Rosea’.

Many of the beautiful flowering trees, shrubs and vines are in the midst of their spring bloom. The tree peonies are near their peak. The lilac shrubs in the Panel Garden are still blooming. The Gold of Ophir (‘Fortune’s Double Yellow’) roses are at their peak in the western balustrade and Service Courtyard. The dogwoods in and around the woodland are stunning right now.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons are blooming throughout the Woodland and Walled Gardens. The corridor from the Chartres to the Wedding Place is a riot of pink, carmine, coral, red, cream and white. The exotically fragrant R. fragrantissimum, on the wall east of the Garden House, has begun to bloom. We’ve recently planted several plants of this species on the north side of the Dining Room Terrace. The ‘Ward’s Ruby’ and ‘Snowbird’ azaleas are still in full bloom in the Lower Balustrade bed.

Many of the succulent plants at on the Northwest Terrace have begun to bloom. Fan aloe (Aloe pilicatilis) and Mexican gem (Echeveria elegans) are in bloom and Cotyledon orbiculata is full of buds. The two Mexican lily (Beschorneria yuccoides) plants have 4’ stalks arising from the rosette of leathery leaves. These are a hummingbird favorite and should continue blooming the next month or two.

The historic iris border along the west side of the main Yew Allée is full of blooms. The tall, white ‘Purissima’, which grows in between the other varieties, is at its peak. Many of the others are flowering or are in bud. Be sure to take a stroll through this off-the-beaten-track part of the Panel Garden.

The Sunken Garden is full of color with the blue pansies, blue and white columbine, yellow Siberian wallflower, pink catchfly, and mauve, rose, cream and white foxgloves. The ‘Jersey Jem’ violas are flowering away in the Chartres and Garage Beds. The columbine mix in the Bell Beds is just beginning to flower. And finally, our spring workhorse, the pale blue forget-me-nots, is spectacular as always!

Several roses have begun to bloom in the Rose Garden and Chartres Cathedral Window garden. Typically the roses are at their best around Mother’s Day, but this year, should be fantastic by the end of the month.

Notes and Common Questions

  • Drought
    The Filoli drought page has been added to our website (http://www.filoli.org/drought/). Titled, Filoli’s Drought Response, the page details the measures we plan to undertake this spring, summer and fall to do our part in reducing garden water consumption. Here, one can learn about Filoli’s water resources and irrigation systems. We recommend a number of things you can do in your garden to get though this uncommonly dry summer and come out the other end with your garden in decent shape. A list of recent online articles and state agency websites are provided for additional information. We plan to continue adding the latest information to the page so that we can keep everyone current with what is happening in the garden and in the community around us.

    Chilean Myrtle Trees
    We removed our last remaining Chilean myrtle trees (Luma apiculata) from the garden last week. This original garden feature has always stood at the north end of the garden. The original tree succumbed to a root rot (Phytophthora sp.) of some kind in the late 1990s, and the now second-generation stand seems to be infected by a new fungal disease (Mycosphaerella sp.), which is also affecting our native manzanitas. We are growing a third generation of seedlings in the nursery and hope to plant these in the next few years.

    Creatures in the Pond
    A question we get from visitors is in regard the creatures living in the Sunken Garden pond. One year-round inhabitant are the mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), the only fish presently living in our ponds. These guppy-like fish eat many types of aquatic insects, but are marvelous at consuming mosquito larvae. Many counties in California have Mosquito Abatement programs and provide these fish at no cost to homeowners with garden ponds. Filoli received its fish many years ago and they continue to reproduce very successfully. Each time we clean one of our ponds, the mosquitofish are caught and released afterward.


Written by Jim Salyards, Filoli's Manager of Horticultural Collections and Education, and Internship Program Coordinator