Luther Burbank (1849-1926)
Luther Burbank was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, on March 7, 1849. In
California his birthday is celebrated as Arbor Day and trees are planted in his
The famed horticulturist made his home in Santa Rosa for more than fifty years.
On this garden site and in nearby Sebastopol, Burbank conducted the
plant-breeding experiments that brought him world renown. His objective was to
improve the quality of plants and thereby increase the world's food supply. In
his working career Burbank introduced more than 800 new varieties of plants
including over 200 varieties of fruits, many vegetables, nuts and grains, and
hundreds of ornamental flowers.
Burbank died in 1926 at the age of 77. In accordance with his wishes, his grave
is unmarked. He was buried under a Cedar of Lebanon tree which he planted in
front of his Santa Rosa cottage in 1893. The Cedar stood as a beloved landmark
until its removal due to root disease in 1989.
During Burbank's career, his four-acre garden in Santa Rosa was an outdoor
laboratory where he carried out his horticultural experiments. In the decades
following his death, Mrs. Burbank sold some of the land and reduced the property
to the 1.6 acres which remain today.
At his widow's request the central garden was redesigned and dedicated in 1960
as a memorial park. This tranquil area, with its stone fountain surrounded by
screened wood fencing, fulfilled Mrs. Burbank's wish for a design using plants,
wood. stone, and water. That theme remains unchanged today.
A revitalization project of the gardens, completed in 1992, addressed the need
for featuring more Burbank-related plant material and for making significant
A permanent pictorial exhibit describing Luther Burbank's life and work is
located in the central garden.