Bloom Watch

A- A A+

Bloom Watch

Categories: Blog, Garden

Garden Happenings

January 20 – February 2, 2020

PDF RESOURCES:      Blooming Calendar Year – PDF   |    Spring Display List – PDF   |    Visitor Map – PDF


Winter at Filoli:

Welcome to Winter at Filoli!  What an incredible time to see the garden in its winter splendor: the structure of woody plants and how they’ve been meticulously pruned for decades and decades; trees and shrubs in the midst of being pruned and witnessing the process happening; newly planted annual beds filling in and beginning to bloom; our earliest blooming shrubs in perfect bloom.  Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to see the garden before the sheer magnificence of spring!

Filoli Orchid Show

Welcome to a season of orchids and Filoli’s Orchid Show!  We are thrilled to be celebrating one of Filoli’s important plant collections, and probably more attractive to all our guests, the queen of the tropics and conservatories over the world.  When the garden is just beginning to awaken from its winter slumber, we could not think of a better way to celebrate flowers than to offer a feast of orchids throughout the House.  

We have a beautiful array of plants and flower arrangements that will be rotating in and out of the House from January 4 to February 24.  Greeting you as you enter the House, in the Foyer, you will encounter our Archway of Orchids. This new addition for 2020, contains over 50 orchid plans, ferns, and other tropicals, and is a pefect spot for a photo!  As you tour through the House, the different rooms will contain our traditional flower arrangements with stunning orchid flowers, as well as blooming orchid plants from Filoli’s historic greenhouse collection. Toward the end of your tour, the Kitchen, and at times the Butler’s Pantry, will have a lush display of orchids on the center-island.

A most exciting feature of the Orchid Show are the orchid displays in the Kitchen and Pantry.   Filoli is indebted to several Northern California orchid societies, who will be featured in a rotation of displays in these rooms.  We offer great thanks to the following orchid societies: San Francisco, the Pacific Central Judging Center of the American Orchid Society, Santa Clara Valley, and Gold Coast Cymbidium Growers.  

Spring Preview:


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 bulb varieties and combination seen on Filoli’s Tulip Tour last April.  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:

Late winter is definitely the time to enjoy the structure of the formal garden.  Hedges are tightly clipped, fruit trees are expertly pruned, and the intricate layout of the walled garden is on full display.  If you enjoy getting a feel for the “bones” of the garden’s design and an appreciation for what Bruce Porter, Arthur Brown, Jr., Bella Worn, the Bourns and the Roths have created, the winter is the time to take in their collective vision and creativity.

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 are loaded with flowers.

Daffodils naturalized around the garden have begun blooming.  The early containers, including paperwhites, will soon be arriving from the greenhouses into the garden. 

Some of the early blooming perennials and shrubs have begun blooming around the garden. Filoli has a large collection of hellebores, including Lenten roses (H. orientalis), that grow in extensive stands in the Woodland Garden, the Main Courtyard, and many other locations.  

The exotically fragrant yellow-edged winter daphne (Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’), Mrs. Bourn’s favorite plant, blooms in dozens of locations around the garden. 

Early spring (well, technically mid-winter) is magnolia time. A few trees are beginning to bloom, including the extremely early Magnolia campbellii ‘Helen Strybing’.  We also have a straight M. campbellii, with pink flowers, in the western Panel Garden that has begun to bloom.

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.  



Winter is a wonderful time to see the architecture and take in all the green shades in the garden.
Conversely, there is some beautiful color from the camellia collection in winter, like this C. japonica ‘Lady Clare’.



And in the abundantly floriferous C. saluensis.
The paperwhite group of daffodils are always the first to flower, like these ‘Erlicheer’ along the western balustrade.











The hellebores and daphne are starting to flower.
Winter daphne will draw you in with its intoxicating aroma.
A hearty winter bloomer in the garden are the strawberry trees, Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’, one of the plants that originally came from Muckross.
Our first magnolia to bloom in winter, M. campbellii ‘Strybing White’, is just beginning to flower.
And in the world of California native plants in the garden, the silk tassel trees, Garrya elliptica ‘Evie’, are enrobed in tinsel-like catkins, or silk tassels.



  • Winter pruning including fruit trees and wisteria
  • Holiday lights takedown

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.