In another world Luther Burbank would be forgotten today; only in the most comprehensive county history books might you find mention about him as a wholesale purveyor of novelty seeds and saplings and cactus paddles.

In that same world the residents of the Bay Area would recognize Santa Rosa by name but think of it as a smallish county seat like Martinez, or a place you must pass through to go somewhere else.

Here's the executive summary of how it turned out instead: In the early 1900s, Burbank became one of the most famous people in America and tourists flocked to Santa Rosa for a look at his celebrated gardens.

There's lots more to the story, of course. It didn't happen overnight and followed years of hard work by Burbank to produce a steady stream of new hybrids. While Burbank's name was always well known to readers of gardening newsletters and farm journals, by the mid-1890s he was increasingly appearing in mainstream newspaper and magazines being described as a "wizard" of plants. And once he started being wizard-ized in those Sunday features, Burbank and Santa Rosa became famous together.

The rest of this article can be read at the website. Because of recurring problems with the Blogger platform, I am no longer wasting my time formatting and posting complete articles here. I will continue to create stubs for the sake of continuity, but will be publishing full articles only at

- Jeff Elliott


Newer Post Older Post Home