Bloom Watch

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Bloom Watch

Categories: Blog, Garden

Garden Happenings

March 12, 2020

Spring at Filoli:

The spring beds and display pots have been planted and now we await the beauty.  Our spring display is entitled “An Homage to English Gardens,” as components of the display are inspired by Filoli’s English Garden and Celsea Flower Show trip last year.  Additionally, there are still lingering inspirations from 2018’s Keukenhof Bulb Tour.  Some of the highlights include the Sunken with over 5000 yellow tulips- a mix of ‘West Point’ and ‘Yellow Emperor’ and a Blue and White annual color palette, the Bell Beds planted with 5000 grape hyacinths, and the Dutch Garden a mix of tall tulips and daffodils.   For the 2020 tulip season, we have extended the show in several beds by double planting two varieties of the same color, including the Sunken Garden, Numbered Beds and the Sundial.    And don’t miss the all-orange mix of tulips in the Perennial Border… our “River of Tulips.”

Plant Highlights:

The spring garden has woken up, with tulips beginning to bloom in beds, and blooming well in containers all over the garden.  Buds are bursting on the spring-flowering trees and shrubs, and lots of color already happening in the way of flowering plums, camellias, and color in the annual beds.

Camellias-Camellias-Camellias!  For the most part, the camellias throughout the garden are absolutely stunning for opening week.  Some of the Sasanquas still have some blooms, and a number of the Japonicas and Reticulatas are loaded with flowers.

Daffodils. Daffodils naturalized around the garden have begun blooming strong.  We are just past peak with the daffodils.  That said, the Daffodil Meadow in the Panel Garden is still at its prime, and dozens of containers are blooming throughout the garden, particularly around the visitor center.

Tulips.  Beds that have begun to bloom include the Sunken Garden (‘Yellow Emperor’ and ‘West Point’), Numbered Beds (‘Kingsblood’ and ‘Red Impression’), and Bell Beds (‘Ollioules’ and ‘Red Impession’).

Wisteria.  The flower buds on the white Chinese wisteria in the garden shop courtyard are opening, as are a few other scattered vines around the garden.

Magnolias.  In the front courtyard, along the front drive, and in many corners of the garden, magnolias are still in bloom.  Particularly colorful right now are the saucer (M. x soulangeana) and star (M. stellata) magnolias.  Also in full bloom is the yellow ‘Elizabeth’ magnolia at the top of the Chartres Cathedral Window.

Blooming perennials, shrubs and vines are blooming around the garden.  The evergreen clematis (C. armandii), various azaleas, and late hellebores are looking nice.

The Camperdown Elm with its gnarled branches, bare to the world, is a spectacular sight to behold.

Filoli has one of the largest collections of ivy in the world.  In the tradition of many historic English gardens, ivy was a component chosen for the walls in many places, particularly along the Bowling Green.  In the late 90s, Filoli received an enormous collection from Dr. Cliff Coon, an avid ivy collector and breeder.  Many of the varieties are represented on the fence line that wraps around the south and west side of the garden.  In addition, a collection of adult ivies, which are more shrub like in form, grows to the west of the High Place.  This peaceful corner of the garden is a lovely spot to sit and read a book.


Organic fertilizing of turf

Bluestone laying at High Place

Continued pruning of dormant trees

Hinoki False Cypress Update

For many years, we have struggled with the condition of the two, lower tier Hinoki false cypresses (Chamaecyparis obtusa) trees west of the house.  For this reason, have removed the lower two- NOT the upper tier- trees as part of our winter tree work.  We are actively propagating new trees to replace these two trees.  The two upper tier trees should now thrive even better with more sunlight.

Garden Irrigation Information

I recently received a question from a docent asking why some irrigation programs run during our hours of operation.  In general, we try and run all programs during the early morning.  This is often what is most healthy for the plants.  However, for some blooms, waiting until the plants have had a chance to dry from the morning dew, before running the irrigation, keeps the flowers from fading or prevents them being subject to some diseases.  Some annuals, like petunias, and the bearded iris, do best when irrigated during the warmth of the late morning.

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.

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.


Photos from March 11, 2020


Hyacinth containers are a lovely welcome at the Visitor Center.
The yellow tulips in the Sunken Garden- ‘West Point’ and ‘Yellow Emperor’- are starting to open.
Beautiful blue-purple ‘Flag Mix’ tulip pots at the West Reception hug the historic urns
A view of blue water and yellow bulbs as one approaches the Swimming Pool.
Looking back over the ‘Yellowstone’ hyacinths at the water’s edge.
Hyacinths and ‘Golden Dawn’ daffodils.

Camperdown elm terrace with cheery ‘Apeldoorn Elite’ tulips.

The flowering cherries are starting to bloom in the Walled Garden.
Our crabapple collection is starting bloom around the garden.

Some of the better bulb displays include the red ‘Kingsblood’ and ‘Red Impression’ tulips in the Numbered Beds

And the ‘Ollioules’ and ‘Red Impression’ mix in the Bell Beds, emerging from a sea of grape hyacinths

The fragrant ‘Foxy Foxtrot’ flanking the Garden House are a perfect welcome to the color and fragrance to be found inside.

As contrast, there are quiet places to find in the garden, like in the Woodland, with tree ferns

And the gorgeous, blue navelwort (Omphalodes cappadocica).
Another Walled Garden highlight is the yellow ‘Elizabeth’ magnolia.