The gardens were built under the worst conditions for the worst reasons. But they were beautiful gardens with rocks, natives and non-native plants: Joshua trees, dead branches, cacti, roses, cherry trees, wisteria. Today only the rocks and streams and ponds and wood exists, but you can still see the beauty.
The lilacs are blooming in the local park where this nursery was once located. No labels exist on the bushes. How do we know what they are?
Checking in some old catalogs, I found this:
"Our efforts in behalf of Lilacs may be attributed to the splendid work of Mr. W.B. Clarke of San Jose, noted hybridizer of spring flowering shrubs and trees. It was he who developed the three excellent varieties pictured above."
I had thought that Descanso Garden was the place where low chill lilacs originated, but apparently it was in San Jose! And Descanso carried on.