A magical morning in March at Filoli


I've been lucky to visit many great gardens "at the right time": what, prithee, is the right time, you ask? That time is when everything within the garden appears to be at pitch perfect state of beauty--that and the light is somehow benign and diffused. To top it all off, hardly any one else is there. It's very much like  It is the state described by Andrew Marvell in "The Garden"--possibly my favorite poem ever. Such was the perfect day five and a half years ago when I visited with my partner, Jan, and my son (shown above with the wonderful Japanese Cherry). This garden ought to speak for itself in these pictures...so much so that I don't think there is much I can say until the very end...













































I hope you enjoyed the stroll! I have often gone back to these images. I've visted Filoli many times--eight or ten at least--almost since its very inception. My sister in law Mary Lou Conant Callas brought me there as a young man a year or two after it opened. I once met the former owners at a Garden Club of America meeting in Hawaii, and had the pleasure of hearing them describe their childhood growing up there.

Much of the perfection of the place is thanks to Lucy Tolmach who was horticultural director at Filoli for as many years as I've been in Denver. She retired in 2012 and I've dreaded to go back, although I'm told it looks good (she claimed she'd trained her successors well)...

The garden's "golden moments" are from when it opens in March until June: it's quieter but still stately in summer and fall--and closes in the winter (I've visited then and it's pretty wonderful even in November or January). Perhaps one day another Lucy will appear who can take it that next step and extend the dazzlement through the calendar year: a tall order you say?

Creating a garden like this with this sort of perfection in the spring is no mean feat. The secret of humanity is that we continue to outdo ourselves (sometimes in ways we shouldn't: guns for instance).. I hope to live to have a magic moment in Filoli in August comparable to what I experienced in March! That is my challenge: let's see if they take it up!

Comments

  1. This is what my country could look like if people spent their time making gardens instead of sitting in front of the television to see who has been murdered.

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    1. Hear hear! Fortunately, our country still has much beauty--and will have more thanks to gardeners! Yes! Gardens, some good exercize and fresh, quality food would do wonders to detoxify the airwaves!

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    2. A truly inspiring garden! I'm going to try to make it out there in March. Thanks for posting, your blog is a favorite of mine.

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    3. Thank you for your kind comment,Fritz! April and May are very good too--both my March visits have been awesome--but remember it's closed on Mondays there. Check their website before you go: http://www.filoli.org/plan-your-visit/

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  2. Probably 15 years ago on a whim I asked Lucy if I could visit Filoli in November (I think it was technically closed) and she generously said yes, and professional courtesy helped as I was then a gardener at US Nat'l ARboretum. Wonderful place even that time of year. But, did you notice the many girdling rings on many big trees?! Apparently there was a vengeful gardener, according to Lucy, who got fired and came back to try and kill (unsuccessfully in many cases, it seems) trees!! Yikes.

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    1. "Et in Arcadia ego" refers to death, but could refer to the serpent as well. Politics is Universal: I have seen those trees--they survived. I hope the girdler has gotten over it by now. Filoli still glows.

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  3. Yes, girdling properly requires more knowledge and experience than most people would imagine. Usually people do it improperly and the tree heals over the cut leaving an unsightly scar. I do a lot of girdling to control invasive species in areas where herbicide cannot be used. It is painstaking work. Some areas are so thick with invasive brush that over 6000 stems must be girdled per acre. After the girdling you then have to return to repeatedly strip the leaves to exhaust the roots. It is a street fight and the invasive brush is winning hands down.

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