The newly refurbished and replanted Sensory Garden at the Lakeside Park Garden Center will celebrate its opening on Sunday, October 22, from 3–5 p.m, according to Susan Veit, board member of the Oakland East Bay Garden Center, Inc. At that time a reception for local officials and volunteers will especially honor the contributors, including the three City Council members who donated funds to the project: Nancy Nadel, Ignacio De La Fuente, and Pat Kernighan.

The Sensory Garden is a section of the Lakeside Park Gardens, which is comprised of a number of demonstration gardens planted in the 1950s and maintained mostly by private groups. They are located on Bellevue Avenue across from the Bandstand and the Sailboat House and include, for example, a dahlia garden, a Japanese garden, and a community garden, where individuals can plant flowers and vegetables to harvest for their own use.

[Editor’s note: Please see related story: “Coming to my senses in Lakeside Park.”]

The Sensory Garden was particularly designed to be accessible to the blind and handicapped, with plants having interesting textures and scents. There is also an unusual water fountain by Paul Cowley which is placed to be heard easily from the path and to be reachable by the wheelchair bound. The pathway though the Sensory Garden is bordered by a waist-level wall, which guides the visitor and prevents wheelchair difficulties.

Tricia Christopher, an Oakland landscape architect, designed the refurbishing. Besides selecting new plants—which were chosen for their drought tolerance and Mediterranean origin—she chose the new wall cap and she assisted in directing the volunteer gardeners.

On the 22nd, festivities will begin at 3 with remarks by Bruce Cobbledick. Mr. Cobbledick was involved with all aspects of the work but particularly with the irrigation planning and funding. The new water system, called an evapo-transpiration system, goes on and off not by hourly schedule but by evaluating the atmospheric conditions. Because it saves water, EBMUD gave a rebate with its installation.

It has taken two years for the Sensory Garden to get to its celebratory opening, though planning, organizing volunteers, removal of weeds and overgrown plants, installation of the watering system, and finally, replanting. The project was initiated by Mr. Cobbledick and Ms. Veit who are board members of the Oakland East Bay Garden Center, Inc., and who became concerned about the condition of the garden. The Hillside Gardeners of Montclair have played a pivotal role, providing volunteers, money, and suggestions. Among the volunteers who have assisted in the project are Rosa Hippler, Chuck Deker, Dick Austin, Merle and Bob Boese, Carol Leverson, Judith Offer, Carole Klyce, Glenda Corey, Paula Stetler, Christine Noutsios, and Randall Lee.

At the opening, refreshments will be served and there will be live music. Members of the public will be invited to purchase contributing tiles by Dianne Farber, which will be installed near the bench area in the garden. For more information about the event, or to volunteer, the public can contact Susan Veit at