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Balboa Park's gardens during the Exposition
Firestone Fountain and Gardens
These postcards show the lily ponds as they were during the 1935-36 Exposition. The lily ponds exert a special magic. Created for the Panama-California Exposition, the ponds have recently been refurbished and approach perfection. Water in the ponds, lilies, tiny fish, turtles, and cranes draw sedate people. They sit on grass and benches or lean over rails for hours. People at the ponds conduct themselves well. Frederick Law Olmsted's theory that people can learn to live with one another in a beautiful environment is working.
Requa's most pleasing contributions to Balboa Park were the Gardens of the Casa del Rey Moro, styled after the garden of the same name in Ronda, Andalusia, the Alcazar Garden, styled after the garden in Seville, and the patio of the House of Hospitality, styled after the patio of the State Museum in Guadalajara, Mexico. While the originals are larger and more dramatic, their copies fit neatly into the park.
Begun at the instigation of the San Diego Floral Association in 1931 as a tribute to horticulturist Kate Sessions, an aloe and agave garden north of the Palace of Natural History was dedicated on May 23, 1935. Another garden, a cactus garden west of the Palace of Education, was planted for the second Exposition. Chauncey I. Jerabek and Kate Sessions helped to design and plant both gardens. Official Exposition gardeners, Wayne Van Schaick and W. Allen Perry, planted a rock garden in the patio of the House of Pacific Relations and rose gardens south of the Organ Amphitheater. All the gardens comforted visitors exhausted from looking at repetitious exhibits inside the buildings.
Otto K. Olesen used lighting devices employed in Hollywood films to conjure up scenes of ethereal magic. For Palm Canyon and the Alcazar Garden he set up over 10,000 firefly lights in shrubs and on the tops of trees to create an illusion of sprites darting in and out of the gloom. The setting evoked the enchanted world of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.
Milton Sessions, nephew of Kate Sessions, planted rubber, pepper and fern trees in the patio of the Ford Building and plants native to the countries represented along segments of a 2,800-ft "Roads of the Pacific" along sides of a canyon behind the building.