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What’s Blooming

More Information
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.

Art Exhibit

Summer Sculpture Show June 2 - September 13

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.

juvenile green heronNumbered Beds in the Walled Garden have filled in nicely with Begonia 'BIG Rose with Green Leaf'.

HeronThe Chartres beds are overflowing with annual phlox (Phlox drummondii 'Fedco Mix').

HeronMost of the roses are blooming again in the Rose Garden.

HeronThe broomcorn plants in the Cutting Garden are ten to twelve feet high!

crimson pods on the Judas treeDon't miss the outstanding pineapple lilies in the east Cutting Garden cage.

poppies in the Kitchen GardenIt is hard to miss the silvery grey leaves of these verbascums (V. bombyciferum) in the Kitchen Garden.

Garden Happenings
Week of August 3 - August 9, 2015

New Plantings:
All the summer annual beds have been planted. The Summer Display list can be found on the Garden Resource Page - the “Annuals Display” tab on the right margin or CLICK HERE.

Plant Highlights:

The Summer Sculpture Show runs June 2 – September 13. Nine artists in total are participating this year, a completely new group from last year. Come enjoy the summer garden with the exciting addition of stunning artwork to enhance your visit!

The summer beds are peaking right now. The Sunken Garden has filled in and all the various annuals are blooming. We will be replanting the four inner square beds with Zinnia ‘Magellan Salmon’ this week to help extend the display further into the season.

All of the Walled Garden beds have filled in and many are stunning right now. Don’t miss the Chartres, with the undulating mix of colors provided by the annual phlox. The seven Number Beds along the south wall are filled with colorful begonias.

The summer display pots are coming down to the garden at a steady stream from the greenhouses. The petunias and XPetchoa (Petunia x Calibrachoa) around the Sunken Garden are down as are the pelargonium pots in a few locations. A few of the begonia pots are down but more of these, as well as the SunPatiens, will arrive as the plants are display-worthy.

In the Panel Garden, the Knot Garden and Perennial Border have passed their prime, but are still full of color. The Cutting Garden is full of stunning shows of color and horticultural excellence, including broomcorn plants that are upwards of twelve feet!

Dahlias are starting to bloom regularly in the Lower Balustrade Bed adjacent to the Sunken Garden. This bed is a mix of pinks, purples and white. We have also, perhaps temporarily, left the under planting of columbines from spring to see if we can carry these along for next spring’s display.

The hydrangeas are exploding with color right now. Each of our four patches has many blooms in various shades of white, pink and blue.

Various summer blooming trees, shrubs and perennials are blooming around the garden. Some of these include pomegranates, lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus), silver lace vine, pocketbook plants and others.

The water lilies in the Sunken Garden pond are particularly floriferous this year.

Replanting the Sunken Garden inner square beds.
Various boxwood and other hedging projects.
Camellia pruning.
Lots of work in annual beds keeping the newly germinated weeds from taking hold.

Notes and Common Questions

Drought Status
Our total rainfall for the 2014-15 season is just over 26”. Although below average (~32”), this is a huge improvement over last year. Our plan for this summer is very much like last summer. The high-profile lawns, like the Walled Garden, front of the house, and Bowling Green, will receive normal irrigation. All of the others will receive reduced irrigation, either at a reduced percentage (40% of normal), or not receive the typical supplemental watering we do in the drier zones. A few more lawns than last year will be allowed to go completely dry this summer.

See the Filoli Drought page on our website for more information:

Walled Garden Oak
Last year I reported about our concern for the giant coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) near the entrance to the Walled Garden shop area- home of the blue hydrangea bed. Two different decay fungi have been found on the tree. Oak root fungus (Armillaria mellea) was evident on the west (hydrangea) side and weeping polypore (Inonotus dryadeus) on the east (Dutch Garden) side. Either one of these can spell the death of an oak tree.

In the fall we had a tomographic study conducted. (Tomography uses sound waves to determine the density of the wood in a tree.)  The results were much more promising than we’d predicted. Two scans of the trunk were made: one about a foot from the soil line, and the other just below where the two major scaffold branches arise at around seven feet. We were encouraged by the arborist’s quote, “We did not find any compelling evidence based upon the tomographic scans that we performed, that the subject oak poses an imminent risk of failure at this time.”

In January, as part of the large tree work done around the garden, significant weight was removed from the tree’s canopy. In early March, we had a McClenahan arborist out to look more closely at the extent of the oak root fungus decay. As expected, he found a decent amount of decay- an estimated 30% of the trunk’s circumference. Our plan was to watch and see how much new growth the tree put out in the spring. If there was not any growth, indicating that the tree had no vigor, we planned to remove the tree. Well… by early April, the tree had put on a burst of new growth. At this time, our intent is to keep the tree for the next few years, but to vigilantly keep our eye on it and be prepared to act if it shows and further signs of decline.

Southern Magnolia Propagation
Another plant of concern discussed in the Garden Happenings in 2014 was our iconic southern magnolia. The cause of the thinning of the crown on the southeast side, at this point, has not been determined. Thus, we have embarked on a two efforts to propagate this historic tree. We have taken traditional cuttings , which are in our propagation house. More noteworthy, are the air-layer cuttings that are presently in-process.

As a tree matures, it typically becomes more and more difficult to propagate. One technique that sometimes proves more successful is starting the rooting process on small branches while still on the plant. Here, moist, sphagnum moss is wrapped around the branch base and is enclosed by a dark plastic wrap. The idea is that the moist, dark conditions mimic the soil environment, which promotes roots to grow. Sometimes the process can take several months, so we are hopeful that this technique will eventually produce rooted cuttings. You can view these in situ cuttings looking into the lower canopy from the north (main house) side of the tree.

Update: The cuttings were checked recently and HAVE begun to produce root initials!  (Initials are small, pre-root growths emerging from the bark.) We are excited that this technique does seem to be working for us. We have decided to try the method on several other branches so that perhaps we can propagate several trees for the future.

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 ( 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