Every Blooming Thing: On Arbor Day, we should honor Luther Burbank
Every year, Arbor Day is celebrated throughout the United States as well as in many other countries.
In California, Arbor Day is so important that we celebrate for a week, not for a just day. In other states, Arbor Day will be celebrated on April 26, which is the last Friday in April.
In California this year, "Arbor Week" is being celebrated from March 7 through March 13.
The word "arbor" is from Latin and simply translates to "tree," so we celebrate by planting trees.
The California celebration of Arbor Day always centers around March 7, which is the date in 1949 when Luther Burbank was born.
Luther Burbank was a pioneer in agriculture science as well as being a botanist and a horticulturist. According to Burbank himself, he began his lifelong work after reading Charles Darwin's book "Variations of Animals and Plants under Domestication."
One of the earliest plant varieties Burbank developed was the Burbank Russet Potato. This he created while living in his home state of Massachusetts. He sold the rights to this potato for $150.
If you have ever eaten a french fry, you have more than likely tasted the potato that Burbank developed.
In 1875, Burbank used the money from the sale of his potato to move to California, where he settled in the Santa Rosa area. He purchased four acres and built a greenhouse. This property is now a city park.
There he continued his life's work using techniques of grafting, hybridization, and crossbreeding. Later, he expanded and bought 18 acres near Sebastopol.
In California, he worked to develop over 800 different varieties of plants, some decorative and some consumable. He was especially interested in working with plums, berries and lilies.
Among my favorite plants developed by Burbank are the Shasta Daisy, the Elberta peach and the Santa Rosa plum.
Although Burbank experimented with and developed hundreds of plant varieties, his recordkeeping was less than stellar. To this day, botanists have been unable to recreate many of Burbank's plant creations.
One of Burbank's legacies was the passage of the Plant Patent Act in 1930 — four years after his death — at which time he received several patents posthumously.
Colette Bauer is a member of The Red Bluff Garden Club, which is affiliated with Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Clubs Inc.; Pacific Region Garden Clubs and National Garden Clubs Inc.