The Wizard of Botany

“It is well for people who think,
to change their minds occasionally
in order to keep them clean.”
Luther Burbank

The Wizard of Botany

Luther Burbank and his dog Bonita circa 1925

 

I bet when you hear the word French fry, you associate it with the French or the Belgium who actually invented this recipe. But there’s one man you would never in a million years have guessed was responsible for the modern French fry. That man was Luther Burbank, a famous American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science. He created a disease resistant potato named the Russet Burbank potato which is the main source of McDonald’s French fries and most all French fry fast food.

Burbank made it his life‘s work to create new varieties of plants, ranging from flowers, fruits and even cacti. He is credited with creating over 800 new varieties of plants and received 16 plant patents.

He was one of the first botanist to cross pollinate fruits and flowers spending decades perfecting this cross pollination. For example, he cross pollinated plums and apricots to get the plumcot as well as cross pollinated four different types of daisies and spent 17 years to create the Shasta Daisy.

Shasta Daisy

Shasta Daisy

Not only a talented botanist admired for his work but also admired for his generosity and kind spirit. He was very interested in education and gave money to local schools. One US Senator stated, “he is doing more to instruct, interest, and make popular the work in the garden than any man of his generation.”

At seventy-seven years old, Burbank said: “I love humanity, which has been a constant delight to me during all my life; I love flowers, trees, animals, and all the works of Nature as they pass before us in time and space. What a joy life is when you have made a close working partnership with Nature, helping her to produce for the benefit of mankind new forms, colors, and perfumes in flowers which were never known before; fruits in form, size, and flavor never before seen on this globe; and grains of enormously increased productiveness, whose fat kernels are filled with more and better nourishment, a veritable storehouse of perfect food—new food for all the world’s untold millions for all time to come.”

Today, most people when they hear the name Luther Burbank might associate the name with the town of Burbank, California. However, that city was named after David Burbank, a New Hampshire born dentist and entrepreneur who established a sheep ranch there in 1867.

Burbank became world famous in the early 1970s, by Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show daily monologue jokes poking fun of the town where the tonight show was filmed, “Beautiful Downtown Burbank.”

Every single day we encounter something that Luther Burbank created because he was truly the wizard of botany.

Shine On

A Magical Place to Live

“Life is like a landscape.
You live in the midst of it
but can describe it only
from the vantage point of distance.”
Charles Lindbergh

magical-place-to-live

Over three hundred years ago the Chowigna Indians lived along the fertile land in Redondo Beach. They lived off the rich soil and fishing the ocean. There was an abundance of fish such as halibut, lobster, and sea bass.

Then in 1854 the Chowigna were sent off to missions and the wealthy Manuel Dominguez sold Redondo Beach to Henry Allanson and William Johnson. These two men saw the possibilities that Redondo would hold. In 1892, Redondo Beach was incorporated and became a major tourist attraction for all walks of life.

Redondo was once described as “The Gem of The Continent” in the Los Angeles Daily Herald newspaper. Through the years famous attractions such as the Redondo Hotel have long disappeared. They say the Redondo Hotel induced more visitors than ever before to venture to the coast.

During prohibition the Hotel Redondo closed its doors and in 1925 was sold for scrap lumber. Big time gambling, complete with mobsters and shooting incidents, found its way to Redondo during the Depression. Chip games, bingo parlors, and a casino were run in full view of the law between 1936 and 1940. For a fare of 25 cents, a water-taxi would transport a visitor to the gambling ship Rex which operated three miles off shore.

chaplinThroughout its history famous people have flocked to Redondo Beach. During the silent film era, actor Charlie Chaplin was often seen visiting Redondo and even bought a beach cottage for his beloved mother. Charles Lindbergh attended a year of high school at Redondo Union as well as Demi Moore and the Smothers Brothers.  Residents included world famous athletes, authors, an atomic scientist, astronaut, and even a Nobel Prize winner. Redondo Beach is home to beach volleyball Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh.

Hollywood also fell in love with Redondo. Numerous films and television shows have been filmed in Redondo Beach and it continues to be a favorite Hollywood location. Who doesn’t remember the desired destination of the road-tripping family in the 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine”.

There have been a few songs written about Redondo Beach, such as Patti Smith’s song “Redondo Beach” and the song, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” by The Beach Boys even gives Redondo a call out.

redondo-gray-whales
Yes, Redondo Beach has quite a history. Before moving to Redondo Beach over a decade ago, I didn’t know its history or anything about Redondo. All I knew was that it is utterly beautiful, it has ideal weather and the clean air helped me decide this is where I wanted to live. For me, Redondo Beach will always be such a magical place to live.

Shine On

The Beach After Quarantine

 

“We have been endowed with just enough intelligence
to be able to see clearly just how utterly inadequate
that intelligence is when confronted with what exists.
If this humility could be imparted to everybody,
the world of human endeavors
would become more appealing.”
Albert Einstein

RB After Quarantine Lifted

Shine On

Paradise and Joyfulness

“I’d rather have roses on my table
then diamonds on my neck.”
Emma Goldman

 

Paradise and Joyfulness

Today on my walk, I came across some birds of paradise that were in full bloom. I couldn’t resist taking some photos of this exotic looking flower which happens to be the official flower of Los Angeles.

How did this South African flower become LAs official flower? Well, back in 1952, Mayor Fletcher Bowron decided to name the bird of paradise the official flower of LA, after heavy lobbying by seed company president and civic booster Manfred Meyberg. Soon after, the plant and seeds from this orange and blue flower became a hot item in nurseries throughout California.

The bird of paradise flower is so named because its magnificently colorful petals resemble a colorful bird in flight. The flower is a symbol of paradise as well as a symbol of joyfulness.

How apropos for Angeleno’s official City flower to be a symbol of paradise and joyfulness.

Shine On

2020 Earth Day

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers,
the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters,
and teach some of us more
then we can ever learn from books.”
John Lubbock

 

2020 Earth Day 2

 

Fifty years ago today, a man named Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin began Earth Day. He was inspired after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.

Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

Why do we need an Earth Day? Because it works! Earth Day broadens the base of support for environmental programs, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism around the world through a broad range of events and activities.

Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. More than a billion people participate in campaigns every year.

So, don your favorite face masks, go outside and celebrate in 2020 fashion, Earth Day.

Shine On