The Senate Sends All Californians Best Wishes for Arbor Week
In the absence of a vote on the Legislature’s budget plan, California’s Senate approved two resolutions March 10 relating to food and flora.
The more sweeping of the two resolutions, neither of which carries the force of law, declared the week of March 7 to March 14 as “California Arbor Week.”
Since March 10 was the last workday for the Legislature until Monday March 14, the resolution was approved just under the wire.
Among the findings of the 14 paragraph resolution is that trees are good for a variety of important reasons, among them their use as an economic and recreational resource and their shade helping to conserve energy.
They also sequester carbon, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Trees also prevent surface runoff and offer a home to California’s varied fauna, including those which are threatened or endangered.
“Trees are a vital resource in beautifying our urban environment and serve as an important psychological link with nature for California’s urban residents and underserved communities,” reads Assembly concurrent Resolution 10 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a Sacramento Democrat.
Sacramento has nicknamed itself the “City of Trees” because, the city says, only Paris has more trees per capita than Sacramento.
The resolution also notes that Arbor Week, as one would suspect it might, begins on Arbor Day, March 7 – the birthday of botanist and horticulturist, Luther Burbank.
Accounts vary but, at best, Burbank obtained a high school education. He was born in Lancaster Massachusetts, the thirteenth of 15 children. After his father’s death, Burbank, 21, bought a 17-acre farm near Lunenburg, northwest of Lancaster.
There he created a new strain of potato, now known as the Russet Burbank Potato, selling the rights for $150 and using the money to come to California, buying a home — with greenhouse — in Santa Rosa. Three of his brothers had already settled in the area.
Burbank later established Gold Ridge Farm on 15 acres in Sebastopol.
His disease-resistant russet is the Number One potato used in food processing. A large amount of McDonald’s French fries are made from Burbank’s russet.
Over his 55 years of grafting, cross-breeding and hybridizing plants, fruits and vegetables, Burbank created more than 800 identified new varieties of fruit, vegetable and plant.
At one time, he had more than 3,000 experiments in progress involving millions of plants.
He created 113 different kinds of plums and prunes 16 types of blackberries, 13 kinds of raspberries, 10 types of apples and two types of figs.
Among plums alone he is responsible for the Wickson, October, Eldorado, Beauty, Climax, America, Santa Rosa, Gold and Formosa varieties.
He created Burbank and Abundance cherries. And Sugar, Standard, Giant Splendor and Stoneless prunes.
He also created the Shasta daisy, the Fire poppy, the July Elberta peach, the Flaming Gold nectarine, the Freestone peach and the thornless and white blackberry. A new fruit, the plumcot, is a mix of plum and apricot.
As are Peachblow, Burbank and Santa Rosa roses.
He also developed 60 varieties of spineless cactus, some for the prickly pear they bear, others for use as cattle feed.
His Paradox walnut is a lumber tree that takes 15 years to mature instead of the usual 50 to 60 years. Burbank did it by hybridizing the English walnut with the California black walnut.
No wonder he was affectionately called “the plant wizard.”
A free thinker, he believed that everything in the universe is in communication through vibrations and magnetic or electrical forces.
He died in 1926 at age 77.
His last words: “I don’t feel good.”
Although any number of schools and civic amenities are named after Burbank, the Southern California city of the same name isn’t. It’s named after David Burbank, a dentist and native of New Hampshire.
The second resolution approved by the Senate declares March 11 to be “Fresno Food Expo Day.”
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