Luther Burbank’s green thumb

As I mentioned in last week’s post, my husband knew my missing a race would require distraction and cheering up. After the race and breakfast, we headed to Luther Burbank’s home and gardens. They’re both usually open to the public, but when we arrived, the home was closed, leaving only the gardens to see. That was perfect for us, and we spent a blissful hour wandering among Burbank’s remarkable gardens.

Everywhere we turned, we saw something beautiful or interesting or colorful (or all three). Dahlias, princess/Peruvian lilies, sunflowers, marigolds and much more kept us happily strolling along the flower beds.

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A riot of colors, textures and varieties of flowers

A Paradox walnut tree hovers over the edge of the house. The tree is 102 years old.

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The Paradox walnut is a cross between a California black walnut and a Persian walnut.

Speaking of towering, a cactus (or maybe cacti) towers over visitors. I was happy to get a picture of it with my husband standing there to show the scale of the cactus.

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I stumbled upon a plant that reminded me of Jerusalem sage but with orange flowers instead of yellow. This flower is called Lion’s Tail, and now I want to find one to plant near my Jerusalem sage.

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I was delighted to discover tiles in the walkway and tucked along a brick wall. It made for a brief treasure hunt.

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Tiles adorn the walkway …


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… and keep the roses company.

I was surprised to learn how many varieties of plants and trees Burbank created through his cultivating and grafting techniques. Chances are, even if you’ve never heard of Luther Burbank, you know a flower or fruit tree he worked hard to create.

Perhaps the Shasta daisy is familiar to you? Burbank created it. He spent 17 years of tinkering to get a daisy he felt was perfect.

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Perhaps not picture perfect, but you don’t hear these guests complaining.

Seventeen years of trial and error. Can you imagine that kind of methodical patience? Here’s the equation that finally worked for Burbank:

Wild oxeye daisy + Portuguese field daisy + English field daisy + Japanese Nippon daisy = Shasta daisy

I never knew the “simple” daisy had such an international pedigree.

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A happy butterfly, a happy dahlia

My husband and I sat on a shaded bench and watched the water flow from the cauldron into a pond. We dreamed dreams for our own backyard, perhaps someday a garden as riotous (and calming, too) as Burbank’s. Just not on as grand a scale.

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Trees make this part of the garden a lovely sanctuary from the sun.


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Hope among the sunflowers (photo by C. Squires)

I’m tired and too warm and wrinkled in this picture, but also happy. Oh, so happy.

As I left the garden, a new peace and a new joy settled into my soul. Isn’t it amazing that a surprise trip to a garden can provide all of that?

2 thoughts on “Luther Burbank’s green thumb

  1. Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. – Luther Burbank

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