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November 1, 2016 > Discover California goldÉ in Fremont!

Discover California goldÉ in Fremont!

By Margaret Thornberry

In the late 1800s the California Nursery, headquartered in Fremont, California, was the largest nursery on the Western coasts of North and South America. It specialized in the development and distribution of new varieties of fruiting trees, flowers, and other plants at a time when the work Gregor Mendel did on genetic inheritance in plants was just beginning to be widely studied, 30 years after his death. At the time, a nursery was not a retail outlet for garden plants but a place of scientific experiment in plant propagation. Commonplace techniques, such as grafting and cross-pollination were just being developed. This firmÕs work in developing varieties of stone fruit, such as peaches, apricots, and plums created a standard that made California agriculture the envy of the world, a reputation the state still enjoys. This agricultural bounty is the true gold of California.

Dr. Joyce Blueford, Founder and Board President of Math Science Nucleus, is working in partnership with the City of Fremont to create a fitting showplace for this history as well as developing educational programs around the work of horticulturists who performed their magic here in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Twenty-one acres of land in public hands along Mission Boulevard in the Niles District of Fremont still remain of these former vast agricultural holdings. Not only are there several buildings of historic significance, but this lovely area also boasts living monuments to the skill of people like John Rock, Luther Burbank, and three generations of the Roeding family. In the late 1880s, the test orchards boasted 55 varieties of figs, 130 of apples, 85 of pears, 41 of apricots, 56 of cherries, 20 of nectarines, 75 of peaches, 115 of plums, 16 of prunes, 22 of almonds, 17 of chestnuts, 24 of walnuts, and many other fruits, in addition to ornamental plants. Trees and seeds were shipped from the nursery to almost every corner of the world, a testament to the skill of shippers at a time when no aircraft were capable of carrying cargo.

Under the ownership of William J. Landers and his son, William H. Landers (1907 Ð 1917), the California Nursery provided full-grown palm trees that graced the Pan Pacific Exposition of 1915. Many of these same palm trees returned to the nursery after the Exposition, and can be seen in a stroll through the gardens today. The climate and soil of Fremont are perfect for palms, and at last count, there were 13 varieties of palm in the nursery grounds.

The California Nursery Office, situated to the right of Nursery Drive behind a lovely rose garden, displays farm tools, provides highlights of the history of the land since the time of the Ohlone, and houses the nursery archives. Starting November 6th, and every Sunday from then on (except Christmas and New YearÕs Day), the park will be open to visitors. Maps of the nursery grounds and information on notable plants are available at the office for self-guided tours, or if you prefer, a guided walking tour of the park will leave the nursery office at 2 p.m. These tours are ideal for families with children in the 3rd through 5th grade, but suitable for anyone. A donation of $3 per person is suggested for visits to the park. Special arrangements can be made through Math Science Nucleus for class field trips or groups.

California Nursery Office Museum
Sundays, starting Nov 6
1 p.m. Ð 4 p.m. (closed Christmas & New Year Day)
2 p.m.: Guided walking tours
California Nursery Historic Park
36501 Niles Blvd, Fremont
(510) 790-6284
Suggested donation: $3 per person

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