Garden Tour Sunday, May 1st, of Oliver De Silva's Garden in Oakland
Jack Osegueda, San Francisco, Cal.
Fig. 30. A section of the Oliver DeSilva Garden.
Despite a cold bleak day, seventy eight members of the California Chapter enjoyed an afternoon visit to member Oliver De Silva's garden in the hills overlooking Oakland. The garden, started in 1949, was designed by Mr. De Silva, the terracing and planting was done by himself with little help! Last month it won the Chamber of Commerce award for the best large garden in the east bay.
Entering down a paved driveway you circle through hundreds of large rhododendron and azalea bushes banked solid on both sides, then you come upon a lovely camellia planting with many reticulata plants taller than yourself. In the center of the nearly acre planting is a series of terraces with a large lily pond at the end, large Chinese magnolias blend in beautifully with the azaleas and rhododendrons massed by the pool and on the terraces, with the home set in perfectly under huge conifer trees.
Below the house, terrace after terrace meets the eye with good size plants massed in every color. Seventy-five deciduous azaleas in striking yellow and orange tones is a sight to behold on the highest terrace. Dropping down winding paths you come upon a luscious lawn surrounded by beautiful four to six foot rhododendrons which continue down the hillside to a creek bed. One side of the lawn has a nice grouping of white and pink dogwoods with beds of azaleas, roses and bulbs in the foreground.
Trying to get Mr. De Silva to tell how he managed to get the garden in and still put a full day in his contracting business, members found out from his wife Hazel that he never missed a week-end or night without working on the garden. Nearly a hundred tons of stone were used in the terrace walls, over five hundred rhododendrons were planted and about as many azaleas. Eighteen dogwood trees and twenty deciduous magnolias were counted, all of good size, plus many companion plants and trees. Members all agreed that Oliver will never be lacking work to do, watering alone is a job in itself!
The complete garden has a most naturalistic setting, it is hard to believe that only six years went into the work creating it, the secret was starting with large plants, much will and determination.
Refreshments were served in the large rumpus room, large indoor plants were much in evidence. Colored slides were shown covering the period of years the garden was being formed.