- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
We spotted this jumping spider on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum (Greek for "upon the leaf"). It was catching a little morning sun and poised for business.
We bought this cactus at the Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol last year. The genus, Epiphyllum, is native to Central America, and we imagine that Burbank probably treasured it for its brilliant fragrant flowers, edible fruit and broad, flat stems. It attracts honey bees, syrphid flies, butterflies and other pollinators.
If you get a chance, you should not only visit the renowned Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa, but his little experimental farm in Sebastopol.
Burbank, born March 7, 1849 on a farm outside of Lancaster, Mass., was one of a kind. "During his career he introduced over 800 varieties of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and grains," according to Western Sonoma Historical Society website. "He developed many of California's plums and prunes, the ancestor of the Idaho Potato, the Shasta Daisy, and novelties such as Plumcots, Thornless Blackberry, and Spineless Cactus. See Luther Burbank Biography."
His home in Santa Rosa was and is primarily a showplace, but his little farm in Sebastopol was his workshop. When he died in 1926, his widow donated some of the land to the City of Sebastopol. Restoration of the cottage began in 1983.
Today, it's a lovely little place, rather secluded without visitors but beckoning to all. You can take self-guided tours or book a guided tour with a docent.
As for the orchid cactus now growing in our yard, we think Luther Burbank would have been pleased.
And pleased with our little visitor, the jumping spider, too.