Posts Tagged: Luther Burbank
We spotted this jumping spider on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum (Greek for "upon the leaf"). It was catching a little morning sun and poised for business.
We bought this cactus at the Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol last year. The genus, Epiphyllum, is native to Central America, and we imagine that Burbank probably treasured it for its brilliant fragrant flowers, edible fruit and broad, flat stems. It attracts honey bees, syrphid flies, butterflies and other pollinators.
If you get a chance, you should not only visit the renowned Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa, but his little experimental farm in Sebastopol.
Burbank, born March 7, 1849 on a farm outside of Lancaster, Mass., was one of a kind. "During his career he introduced over 800 varieties of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and grains," according to Western Sonoma Historical Society website. "He developed many of California's plums and prunes, the ancestor of the Idaho Potato, the Shasta Daisy, and novelties such as Plumcots, Thornless Blackberry, and Spineless Cactus. See Luther Burbank Biography."
His home in Santa Rosa was and is primarily a showplace, but his little farm in Sebastopol was his workshop. When he died in 1926, his widow donated some of the land to the City of Sebastopol. Restoration of the cottage began in 1983.
Today, it's a lovely little place, rather secluded without visitors but beckoning to all. You can take self-guided tours or book a guided tour with a docent.
As for the orchid cactus now growing in our yard, we think Luther Burbank would have been pleased.
And pleased with our little visitor, the jumping spider, too.
A jumping spider on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's "Orange October" for the San Francisco Giants, who just defeated the Detroit Tigers in the opening game of the World Series.
But over at the Luther Burbank's Gold Ridge Experiment Farm at 7781 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, it's Blue October.
It's delightful to see the honey bees foraging in the sky-blue borage (Borago officinalis), aka starflower and bee bread.
Burbank (1849-1926), a noted plant breeder, must have enjoyed the bees there, too. You can almost feel his presence as you walk along the paths, rimmed with more than 250 plant specimens.
His widow, Elizabeth Waters Burbank (1888-1977) donated 15 acres of their 18-acre farm to a senior housing development corporation and then gifted the remainder to the city of Sebastopol for historical preservation. Administered by the Western Sonoma County Historical Society, the farm is open to the public. There's no admission, but donations are accepted. You can also buy a few plants there.
As for borage, it's used as a salad herb and as a dessert garnish. It's also been used for medicinal purposes and for seed oil. Photographers love to capture the colors--the white, prickly hairs ghosting the spectacular blue blossoms.
When you visit the Gold Ridge Experiment Farm, though, you know the borage is for the bees. The nectar-rich blossoms are theirs and theirs alone.
Honey bee heading for borage. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging among the borage. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Where's the bee? A borage blossom nearly hides the bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)