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What’s Blooming

by Jim Salyards, Head of Horticulture & Internship Program Coordinator.

Flowers are one of the most pronounced markers of the progression of time in a garden. Each week Jim scouts the Garden for amazing blooms and features our favorites here. Check back often to see what we have in store for your next visit to Filoli.

Week of June 26 – July 9, 2017

Centennial Celebration of the Garden

We have celebrated the land and we have celebrated the house. Now, it is time to celebrate the GARDEN! This final centennial year will, hopefully, be the best our guests have ever experienced. Many exciting opportunities and experiences are planned for this year and we plan to have the garden looking smarter and more colorful than ever before.

Be sure to bookmark Filoli’s Centennial webpage and check back for ticket sales and updates in the coming months.

Garden Sculpture Exhibit

Our fourth annual summer sculpture exhibit is up around the garden. Entitled Filoli Inspirations: Sculpture Exhibit in the Garden, this year’s exhibit is an homage to the different pieces of art throughout the garden. Look for bronze and metalwork pieces by Stephan Savides, Marilyn Kuksht, Paul Cheney, Mary Bayer and Anna Martin; concrete and ceramic pieces by David Putnam, Peggy Snider, Deborah Bridges, and Xuan My Ho; mixed media pieces by Payson McNett; and carved marble pieces by Matt Auvinen. Also, as part of this year’s exhibit, we will be have informational signs beside many of the pieces of Filoli garden art explaining their origins and mediums. The exhibit runs May 16 – November 5.

Sculpture maps and further information are available in the Visitor’s Center.

Summer Garden Display

We have moved full force into replanting the summer display beds.  Most of the Sunken Garden beds (in a variation of the orange, rust, purple and blue of 2016) are planted, as is the Chartres (in four different fibrous begonia varieties) and most of the remaining annual beds.  We just have the remainder of the Dutch and the Sundial left to plant.

Plant Highlights

Many roses are in bloom and some are coming into their second bloom of the season.  Be sure to wander all the beds and find your favorite colored and/or scented rose.

Lots of summer annual pots have been placed around the garden, and more will be going out this week.  Sunny areas will include petunias and petunia hybrids, along with zinnias and geraniums (Pelargonium varieties).  Our shady pots will be SunPatiens and various begonias.

The Knot Garden and Perennial Border in the Panel Garden are at their peak show for the year.  Always on the heels of the peak of spring, the Panel Garden is at its finest as spring fades into summer.

Some of the various late-spring-into-summer shrubs, subshrubs and vines are coming into bloom.  The elegant Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ vines are blooming along the balustrades adjacent to the Dining Room Terrace.  Everyone’s favorite pocketbook plant (Calceolaria integrifolia) greets guests at the Visitor’s Center landing.  The many patches of bear’s breech (Acanthus mollis) around the garden are sending up their tall flowering spikes. Way up at the top of the garden, near the end of the Tree Peony Bed, is our Himalayan/evergreen dogwood (Cornus capitata), the last of our dogwoods to bloom.

The hydrangeas have begun blooming in the various beds around the garden.  Many lovely blue flowers are unfurling at the bed in the western Panel Garden.

Many guests are noticing the golden black locust (Robinia pseudacacia ‘Frisia) to the west of the Swimming Pool.  The tree was planted four years ago as a replacement for the declining golden honeylocust, and thus far, is a great replacement for the tree that Mrs. Roth planted to help draw the eye across the Sunken Garden and toward the beautiful western hills.

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.


Annual planting
Rough cut mowing around property

There is a new lath screen near the VEC Room D parking lot. As part of the new visitor flow from the Visitor’s Center to the House and Garden, we had to clear the bank of native shrubs blocking this view. We have planted the area with new native shrubs, but until they fill in the area, the lath screen will help block this parking area from view.

The various summer display pots have begun being placed around the garden. These pots on the the Yew Allee Holly Hedge steps are Petunia ‘Colorworks Rose Star’, one of the plants donated as cuttings by Sakata seed company.
The Numbered Beds are planted in shades of pink, with Petunia ‘Tidal Wave Silver’ at the front end, Zinnia ‘Profusion Double Deep Salmon’ at the top near the Wedding Place, and five beds of Begonia ‘Megawatt Pink with Bronze Leaf’ between the two.
For the first time in many, many years, the four sections of the Chartres are planted with a different variety of summer annuals. All from the very old begonia Cocktail series, from left to right are: ‘Brandy’, ‘Rum’, ‘Gin’ and ‘Whisky’.
There is already much color happening around the Sunken Garden. The beds are filling in and beginning to flower, the pots are full of blooms, and the waterlilies are just loaded with flowers this year.
Still looking great, the Knot Garden should not be missed!

Notes and Common Questions

Turf and Turf Trials

After recent years of below-average rainfall, we have decided we need to educate ourselves on some turf varieties that might grow well for us with less water. In the North Lawn Terrace area, we have sown or planted 10’ x 12’ blocks for a formal turf trial. The twelve species and blends that we are testing are:

  1. June grass (Koeleria macrantha)
  2. Seashore bentgrass (Agrostis pallens)
  3. U.C. Verde buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides)
  4. Hachita blue gramma grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Hachita’)
  5. Purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra)
  6. Pacific hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
  7. Molate red fescue (Festuca rubra ‘Molate’)
  8. Pacific Coast Seed- Native Ornamental Fine Fescue Blend
  9. High Country Gardens- Low Work & Water Fescue Mix
  10. Prairie Nursery- No Mow Fescue Mix
  11. Barenburg- Water Saver Rhizomatous Tall Fescue Mix
  12. California meadow sedge (Carex pansa)

Each block and variety has a corresponding sign telling more about the variety. We will also have similar information about the trial and varieties on the Filoli website.

The intent for the trial is to find one or more that might work for some of our turf areas. In particular, we are looking at areas that are less formal or receive regular foot traffic.

In the fall of 2016, we embarked on a beta testing of the “No Mow Fescue Mix” on the Yew Allée. This variety, which has performed best thus far, will hopefully be a low-water and lower-upkeep turf for this important view corridor.

Ultimately, we will continue the trial through fall of this year. We plan to irrigate 30-40% less compared to what our historic turf blends receive, and, therefore, determine which are the best for the High Place and some of the other higher-traffic and less high-profile lawns.

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 (www.bloominbucks.com) 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.


4 responses to “What’s Blooming

  1. I like the new format for What’s Blooming. It is easier to read and looks more professional.

  2. Great post!!
    Thank you for the information!
    I have been looking for the grass trial information on Filoli trials. The tags on the lawn are often not there. Could you share the order of those grass (in relative to the gate)? (I know which patch i like, but couldn’t tell which one it is).

    Thank you!!!

  3. I miss the easy to read short page of “what’s blooming”- I used to check it every week and it quickly told me what flowers were blooming.

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