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Plant Collections

Magnolia campbellii Garrya elliptica Olea europaea Magnolia grandiflora Michelia doltsopa Magnolia campbellii Magnolia x soulangeana Clerodendrum bungei Ilex aquilfolium Parthenocissus quinquefolia Leptospermum scoparium Daphne odora Acanthus mollis Eucryphia x intermedia Punica granatum var. nana Michelia figo Wisteria floribunda Wisteria sinensis Wisteria brachybotrys (venusta) Camellia sasanqua Map to Filoli Gardens: Area 1

Explore the Garden:
The House and the Approaches

An historical overview of the sections of the Garden and grounds open to the public or by special reservation.

Garrya elliptica

Scientific name: Garrya elliptica
Common name: COAST SILK TASSEL ‘EVIE’

Notes: Native to Coast Ranges from southern Oregon to Southern California. Selected by Wayne Roderick, ‘Evie’ grows 10–15 feet tall and wide, although it can be smaller. It is a showstopper in late winter when its creamy white male flower tassels emerge and transform the plant. Provide sun to part shade and occasional water away from the coast. Dark evergreen leaves and dense habit make it a good choice for a hedge or privacy screen, as well as a specimen plant. After the VEC was completed in 1996, ‘Evie’ was planted. The plant selection was inspired by Mrs. Roth’s planting of Garrya ‘James Roof’ on the entry drive beyond the service drive to the Visitor Education Center which are in too much shade now. Deer resistant.
Cultivar: ‘Evie’
Family: Garryaceae
Flower Month: February
Location:West Service Drive, Visitor Education Center
Originating Period: 1975–Present Day

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Olea europaea

Scientific name: Olea europaea
Common name: EUROPEAN OLIVE ‘MISSION’

Notes: The orchard was planted about the same time as the gentlemen’s orchard around 1918 and is an original landscape feature. It used to extend all the way to the gentlemen’s orchard until the parking lot was built in 1979.

Willow–like foliage is a soft gray green above and silvery glaucous below. Smooth gray trunks and branches become gnarled and picturesque in age. Trees grow slowly; typically 25–30 feet high and as wide; however, young ones put on height fairly fast. The ‘Mission’ Olive is the most hardy of all of the olives and has survived at Filoli with historic lows of 15°F.

Without processing, olives are inedible and they can stain paving and harm lawns if not removed. Mrs. Roth began the process of pruning the olive trees in a goblet shape in the sunken garden and pool areas. Filoli’s olive trees in the sunken garden & pool pavilion are pruned annually; olive trees near the VEC do not get pruned annually. Note: Olive oil was not produced at Filoli. According to Lucy Tolmach, ‘the Italian gardeners at Filoli used the green ripe method of curing olives, using a diluted lye mixture to remove the bitterness. This treatment was followed by a week of frequent rinsing with water to remove the lye. The end result was sweet, fragrant olives, which were then pickled in a diluted brine solution and eaten fresh.’ (For more details about the Olive Trees of Filoli, see the Summer 1995 issue of ‘The Sundial Times’.)
Cultivar: 'Mission'
Family: Oleaceae
Flower Month: October
Location: Olive Orchard (Sunken Garden)
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era), Visitor Education Center and 1937–1975 (Roth Era), Sunken Garden
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli and Signature Plant for the Classical Roman Villa garden plants.

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Magnolia grandiflora

Scientific name: Magnolia grandiflora
Common name: SOUTHERN MAGNOLIA; BULL BAY

Notes: Native from southeastern swamp area of United States, thereby makes an excellent tree for lawn. Evergreen tree is large, handsome, slow growing Leaves shaped like laurel leaves, leathery in texture, dark glossy green above and often have thick, red–brown, felt–like beneath. Buds open over a long period from midsummer to well into fall. Flower color is pure creamy white with central hoss, lemon fragrance. Seedling tree can take 20 years to produce flowers; grafted plants usually flower in five years. At Filoli, tree grows well and has to be pruned every year for size control because it is growing into the allee of plane trees and blocking the windows of the chauffeur's quarters. The prunings are put to good use for holiday decorations in wreaths and garlands. The large, spectacular, lemon–scented flowers and fruits are highly prized by our flower arrangers. Mrs. Roth selected this tree to replace a lost oak.
Family: Magnoliaceae
Flower Month: July
Location: Front Lawn
Originating Period: 1937–1975 (Roth Era)
Character Defining Style: Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli.

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Michelia doltsopa

Scientific name: Michelia doltsopa
Common name: SWEET MICHELIA, CHINESE MAGNOLIA

Notes: Evergreen tree with highly fragrant flowers. Blooms early and sometimes flowers are burned back by frosts. Leaves 3–8 in. long, 1–3 in. wide. In winter furry brown buds open to blossoms ranging from cream colored to white, with a slight green tinge at the base. They are 5–7 in across, with 12–16 segments, each 1 in. wide. At Filoli, the large tree on the entry drive was badly damaged in 1990 freeze and has still not recovered. Borderline plant for Filoli. Several new ones were added to the entry drive in 1996 with addition of more Yulan Magnolias.
Family: Magnoliaceae
Flower Month: February to March
Location: Front entry drive
Originating Period: 1937–1975 (Roth Era) and 1975 to Present Day, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Magnolia campbellii

Scientific name: Magnolia campbellii
Common name: CAMPBELL'S MAGNOLIA 'STRYBING WHITE'

Notes: A deciduous tree with leaves oval, 6–10 in. long, glabrous above with appressed hairs beneath. Large white flowers, 12 inches in diameter with tepals erect (looks like doves). Blooms early and sometimes the flowers are burned by the frosts. Plant in lee of evergreens to protect from strong winds. This is a very rare Asian Magnolia which as a species is endangered in its native habitat. Very expensive to purchase and hard to find because it is a grafted plant. It takes many years to come to bloom. This plant was a gift to Mrs. Roth from Strybing Arboretum.
Cultivar: (Alba Group) ‘Strybing White’
Family: Magnoliaceae
Flower Month: February
Location: Entry courtyard
Originating Period: 1937–1975 (Roth Era)

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Magnolia x soulangeana

Scientific name: Magnolia x soulangeana
Common name: SAUCER MAGNOLIA; CHINESE MAGNOLIA

Notes: Often called ‘Tulip Tree’. Medium green, rather coarse–looking leaves 4–6 inches long or longer. Forms large, spreading shrubs or small trees. Flowers color will vary white to pink or purplish, red. Fragrant variable in form and size. Blooms late winter to early spring, both before leaves emerge and as they open. Seedlings highly variable. Good lawn plant, good anchor plant in big container plantings.
Family: Magnoliaceae
Flower Month: February
Location: Entry courtyard
Originating Period: 1937–1975 (Roth Era)

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Clerodendrum bungei

Scientific name: Clerodendrum bungei
Common name: CASHMERE BOUQUET; GLORY FLOWER; GLORY BOWER

Notes: Grows rapidly to 6 feet tall and wide; upright spreads rapidly by suckers, eventually forming a thicket if not retrained. Fragrant flowers; large corymbs that look like puce red hydrangeas and are sometimes called Mexican Hydrangea. Big, coarse, broadly oval to heart–shaped leaves with toothed edges; dark green above and rust–colored fuzz beneath. Foliage smells like rancid peanut butter when crushed. Native to the SEUS, it is a deciduous shrub that works well in containers or tubs like hydrangeas. Unusual old–fashioned California garden plant found surviving in old estate gardens like Filoli. Prune in spring and pinch back throughout growing season. Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings in spring, by semi–ripe cuttings in summer, or by rotted suckers in autumn or spring. Deer resistant. Almost impossible to find in nurseries.
Family: Verbenaceae
Flower Month: September
Location: Entry courtyard
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style:Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli.

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Ilex aquilfolium

Scientific name: Ilex aquilfolium
Common name: ENGLISH HOLLY ’J.C. VAN TOL‘

Notes: Introduced in England in 1904. Excellent specimen tree or durable screen. Has won numerous RHS Awards of Merit for its ability to pollenize itself without any male plants involved and produces abundant crops of red berries. The female flowers have some male parts, plenty of bright clear red berries. The handsome dark green leaves are almost without prickles which makes it easier to handle in decorating for Christmas, for flower arranging, hedging and pruning. Birds love the berries. This is one of the most significant English plants we have at Filoli. These foundation plants were brought from Muckross. No plant says ’English‘ more than holly, along with for the yews and ivies. Deer resistant, Drought resistant.
Cultivar: ’J.C. van Tol‘
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Flower Month: October
Location: Front Lawn Foundation Plant
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)

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Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Scientific name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Common name: VIRGINIA CREEPER

Notes: Native to Eastern North America, discovered in 1629. Deciduous, vigorous, woody climber with tendrils 5–12 branches, all viscous–tipped. Palmate, dull, mid–green leaves composed of usually five oval, sharply toothed leaflets. Valued for its self–supporting character and rich, brilliant red autumn color. Recommended in period English gardening books as one of the best creeper for brick walls when managed as a tracery. Mentioned by Mr. Bourn in his letters.
Family: Vitaceae
Flower Month: October
Location: Front Lawn Foundation Plant
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Signature Plant for the Classical Roman Villa garden plants and Signature Plant for English Renaissance Garden.

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Leptospermum scoparium

Scientific name: Leptospermum scoparium
Common name: NEW ZEALAND TEA TREE 'JUBILEE': MANUKA

Notes: Evergreen shrub or small tree up to 20 feet, very busy and leafy. Leaves linear–oblong, 1/3” to ½” long, about ½” wide, pointed, dotted with fragrant oil–glands. ‘Jubilee’ has double pink flowers which deepen to rose–red. Another common name is Broom Tea Tree because of its bushy character. Low maintenance. These are replacements plants for the original Leptospermums along Daphne Way that we lost in the 1990’s freeze when Filoli had historic lows of 15°F. Planted in 1992, this ‘Jubilee’ is considered more tolerant of low temperatures than the original ‘Ruby Glow’ and ‘Red Damask’ leptospermums that we lost. At Filoli, leptospermums fit with all the other plants selected for outside the garden walls and with recommendations of the appropriate period plants for along entry drives where annual flowers and high maintenance plants were considered a no! no! Deer resistant, Drought tolerant.
Cultivar: ‘Jubilee’
Family: Myrtaceae
Flower Month: June
Location: Unknown
Originating Period: 1975 to Present Day National Trust for Historic Preservation

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Daphne odora

Scientific name: Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'
Common name: GOLD–EDGED WINTER DAPHNE

Notes:Introduced from China or Japan in 1771. Evergreen shrub with unpredictable behavior. Can die despite the most attentive care or flourish with little attention. Very neat, handsome plant, usually about 4 ft. high and 6 ft wide. Rather narrow, 3 in long leaves are thick and glossy. Nosegay clusters of charming, intensely fragrant flowers–pink to deep red on outside, with creamy pink throats–appear at branch ends in winter. ‘Aureomarginata’ has yellow-edged leaves. According to Billy Bourn, the Bourn’s grandson, Mrs. Bourn favored the daphne. He remembers the fragrance and display of the flowers in the house.
Cultivar: 'Aureomarginata'
Family: Thymelaceae
Flower Month: February
Location: Daphne Way Balustrade Planting
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli and Signature Plant for the Classical Roman Villa garden plants.

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Acanthus mollis

Scientific name: Acanthus mollis
Common name: BEAR'S BREECH; BEAR'S BREECHES

Notes: Spineless foliage to 2 feet long, deeply lobed and cut, narrowly ovate with undulating margins. Blooms when foliage clumps send up tall spikes of hooded whitish, rose or purple flowers beneath spineless green bracts. Lop off the prickly spikes after bloom. Very invasive and impossible to remove once established. Recommended by English gardening authorities of the period as an excellent foundation plant and in entry courtyards for bold and architectural effect in scale with large residences and has low maintenance requirements. Grown by Romans in villa gardens. Note: At Filoli, Acanthus leaves can be seen in the house on the top of the Corinthian columns in the ballroom and reception room. Deer resistant.
Family: Acanthaceae
Flower Month: June
Location: Northwest Upper Terrace balustrade planting
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Signature Plant for the Classical Roman Villa garden plants and Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli.

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Eucryphia x intermedia

Scientific name: Eucryphia x intermedia
Common name: EUCRYPHIA ‘ROSTREVOR’

Notes: Compact tree has a delicate look that adds to its beauty when its slender branches are covered with white blossoms during August and September. The small leaves are dark green with a gray undersurface and they are arranged in a mixture of single leaves and leaves held in groups of three. Columnar form, evergreen. Fragrant plant. Covered with blooms in August. Plant needs a warm, sheltered site and protection from damaging winds. Chance hybrid between E. glutinosa and E. lucida was discovered in Rostrevor Village, N. Ireland, Co. Down. The parent plants were native to New Zealand, very characteristic England and especially Irish country estate plant. One of Filoli's rarest shrubs. This plant received the RHS Award of Merit in 1936 and many other awards since. The plant on the west foundation bed was propagated from the plant Mrs. Roth planted in the foliage border where it was in too much shade to bloom and where it gets greenhouse thrips every year and looks unsightly.
Cultivar: ‘Rostrevor’
Family: Eucryphiaceae
Flower Month: August
Location: West Upper terrace foundation bed
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli and Signature Plant for English Renaissance Garden.

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Punica granatum

Scientific name: Punica granatum var. nana
Common name: DWARF POMEGRANATE

Notes: Shrub or small tree nearly evergreen in mild winters. Charming dwarf variety develops into a densely twigged shrub with small, narrow leaves which are bronze and glossy when they first appear. Although leaves turn bright yellow and fall in winter, it is usually not until the new crop is ready to appear. Bright orange red flowers followed by small, dry red fruit. Blooms when 1 ft. tall or less. Imported by the Domoto Nursery Company.
Family: Lythraceae, Punicaceae
Flower Month: July
Location: West upper terrace foundation bed
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli.

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Michelia figo

Scientific name: Michelia figo
Common name: BANANA SHRUB

Notes: Slow growing evergreen 6–8 feet high (possibly 15 ft tall) and about 2/3 as wide. Densely clothed with glossy, leathery, 3 in. leaves. Plant blooms most heavily in spring but produces scattered flowers throughout summer. Blossoms are 1–1/2 in. wide, creamy yellow with thin brownish purple border on each segment. Note: powerful, fruity fragrance like ripe bananas. Choice plant for entry or patio.
Family: Magnoliaceae
Flower Month: May
Location: West foundation bed
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli.

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Wisteria floribunda

Scientific name: Wisteria floribunda
Common name: DOUBLE–FLOWERED JAPANESE WISTERIA ‘VIOLACEA PLENA’

Notes: Double flowered, dark purple. Candy smell. Leaves are 12–16 ft. long, divided into 15–19 leaflets. Fragrant, (candy–like) 1 ½ ft. full double flowered clusters of violet or violet blue flowers during leaf–out. Clusters open gradually. At Filoli, the last of the wisterias to bloom and this is the only truly double wisteria. Imported by the Domoto Nursery, Co. (For pruning details see Winter 2003 issue of ‘The Sundial Times’.)
Cultivar: ‘Violacea Plena’
Family: Unknown
Flower Month: April
Location: Service courtyard on garage
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli.

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Wisteria sinensis

Scientific name: Wisteria sinensis
Common name: CHINESE WISTERIA

Notes: Deciduous, vigorous, twinning climber. Bright green leaves are 10–12 inches long, divided into 7–13 oval shaped leaflets, deciduous. Blooms before leaf–out. Clusters of violet–blue, small pea–like, slightly fragrant flowers. Make quite a show, since flowers open all at once. Often followed by bean–like velvety green seed pods to 6’ long. Propagation by layering in summer orby cuttings. This is the first Wisteria to bloom at Filoli. From the Domoto Nursery Co. (For pruning details, see Winter 2003 issue of ‘The Sundial Times’.)
Family: Papilionaceae, Fabaceae
Flower Month: March
Location: Service Courtyard on garden drive wall
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli and Signature Plant for the Classical Roman Villa garden plants.

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Wisteria brachybotrys

Scientific name: Wisteria brachybotrys (venusta)
Common name: MURASKI–KAPITAN SILKY WISTERIA

Notes: Origin of plant is unknown, though it is reputed that it was brought from China to England circa 1850. A highly fragrant show of long, drooping purple flower clusters. The racemes are shorter, but individual flowers are very large. Of all Filoli's wisteria, this one follows the W. sinensis and blooms second. Imported by the Domoto Nursery, Co. (For pruning details see Winter 2003 issue of ‘The Sundial Times’.)
Family: Papilionaceae, Fabaceae
Flower Month: April
Location: Service courtyard drive on corner of chauffeur’s quarters
Originating Period: 1915–1937 (Bourn Era)
Character Defining Style: Unique Plant with Special Historic Significance for Filoli and Signature Plant for the Classical Roman Villa garden plants.

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Camellia sasanqua

Scientific name: Camellia sasanqua
Common name: SASANQUA ‘PLANTATION PINK’

Notes: FRAGRANT. Vigorous, upright growth, evergreen shrub with tree–like habit. Valued for luxuriant rich green foliage. Long weeping laterals and large saucer–like pink, single flowers with a boss of golden stamens. Often used for hedges and espaliered. Blooms October through December. Deer resistant plant. Prefers well–drained neutral/acid soil. At Filoli, this plant provides a wonderful display of pink flowers for our December Holiday Event.
Cultivar: ‘Plantation Pink’
Family: Theaceae
Flower Month: October
Location: Gift Shop Courtyard
Originating Period: 1937 – 1975 (Roth Era)

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