QBARS - v14n4 California Spring Garden and Home Show

California Spring Garden and Home Show

The world famous California Spring Garden and Home Show opened its spectacular display to the public at the Oakland Exposition Building and Grounds on April 30 through May 8, 1960. "Kew to Kyoto" was the theme of the show which was designed by the rhododendron enthusiast Howard Gilkey. It is estimated that 140,000 people visited the magnificent show.

Its focal points, replicas of the Kew Gardens and the famed Daibutsu Mountain Shrine, stood at opposite ends of the building. The central area was occupied by beautiful landscapes displaying the lush greens of giant tropical plants, trees and ferns. Filtering through were the brilliant colors of exotic orchids, azaleas, rhododendrons and other plants. Sculptured walls depicted bas reliefs of St. George and the Dragon.

An English formal rose garden was outstanding with an "aurora borealis" lighting effect striking through an adjoining opaque door. Plunging from an oriental mountain top was a nine cataract water fall splashing into a tropical lagoon. The central waterfall descends through a huge bronze Lotus Bowl from which soar the golden flames of Daibutsu. Other interesting features were the antique garden statuary and embellishments imported from Japan and England to enhance the theme subjects. A Japanese Stone Lantern which was over 250 years old was displayed in an outdoor landscape reminiscent of old Japanese Feudal grandeur.

The show was composed of garden and landscape displays and was open to individuals and amateur or professional groups. It was interesting to note that Azaleas and Rhododendrons were a prominent part of most of the professional exhibits. While the show for the most part was non-competitive, specimen plants in the displays were open to special awards.

The California Chapter of the Society display was designed by Landscape Architect Ernest Wertheim, who put in long hours in deciding on plants, color schemes and layout. It was a difficult task as the peak of Rhododendron blooming came about the first to the middle of April this year, about two weeks earlier than usual and limiting our choice of available plant material.

California Chapter ARS Exhibit
Fig. 35.  California Chapter ARS Exhibit at
the Oakland Garden Show
Long photo

The California Chapter received the coveted "Blue Ribbon" for its exhibit which was a plant show exclusively and designed to simulate a well designed home garden. A seventeen year old "Award of Merit" form of yakushimanum loaned to us by Jock Brydon won "Highest Merit Certificate" in competition with all the exhibits in the show. It was in prime bloom and a spectacular sight. This plant aroused more interest and comment than any plant in the show. Another exhibit loaned by President Howard Kerrigan of our Chapter, a new hybrid named "Rickey Kerrigan" received a second "Award of Merit."

A distinguishing feature of the design was the symmetrical placing of plants to provide a graduated display without any hint of crowding that was so prevalent in many exhibits. Outstanding were the two plants receiving the awards. A planting of Knaphill azaleas was much admired, especially noticeable were fine specimens of 'Flamingo', 'Ballerina' and 'Basilisk.' A contribution of merit also loaned by Jock Brydon were the rare and beautiful yellows 'Beaulieu', 'Hawk', 'Halcyone', and 'Jervis Bay.' Other plant material included was R. formosum , R. 'Countess of Sefton', R. 'Fragrantissimum', R. 'Antoon van Welie', R. 'Broughtonii Aureum', R. 'Countess of Haddington', R. 'Elizabeth', R. 'Pink Pearl', R. 'Purple Splendor', and many others.