That would be the Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol.
"Luther Burbank bought his 15-acre farm on Gold Ridge in 1885 in Sebastopol," says the Western Sonoma Historical Society on its website. "During his career he introduced over 800 varieties of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and grains. 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. His home in Santa Rosa was primarily a showplace, but he developed and grew thousands of new hybrids, cross breeds and selections at his Experiment Farm in Sebastopol."
Burbank (1849-1926), noted American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science and always the experimenter, was inducted into the Inventor's Hall of Fame in 1986.
So, what's the flurry of pink at the Gold Ridge Farm?
Naked ladies. The spectacular bulbous plant, Amaryllis belladonna.
The leafless plant (at least in summer, hence the name) looks like the Pepto Bismol of the plant world. It's native to the Cape Province, South Africa. The plant is named after the Greek beauty, Amaryllis. And "bella donna" means beautiful lady in Italian. "Botanically belladonna also means poisonous," according to CalCallas.com.
A recent tour of the Gold Ridge Experiment Farm found the amaryllis springing to life, as honey bees buzzed in and out. ("Amaryllis" is the name you call it when little children are around!)
The Gold Ridge Farm, located at 7781 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, is a quiet place, a place for nature walks, a place of extraordinary beauty, and a place to contemplate what life must have been like in the 1800s and early 1900s. His cottage, renovated after the 1906 'quake, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
It's easy to see what influenced and inspired Luther Burbank, not just here on the Gold Ridge Experiment Farm, but at his Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa.
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.
It's "Orange October" for the San Francisco Giants, who just defeated the Detroit Tigers in the opening game of the World Series.
But over at the Luther Burbank's Gold Ridge Experiment Farm at 7781 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, it's Blue October.
It's delightful to see the honey bees foraging in the sky-blue borage (Borago officinalis), aka starflower and bee bread.
Burbank (1849-1926), a noted plant breeder, must have enjoyed the bees there, too. You can almost feel his presence as you walk along the paths, rimmed with more than 250 plant specimens.
His widow, Elizabeth Waters Burbank (1888-1977) donated 15 acres of their 18-acre farm to a senior housing development corporation and then gifted the remainder to the city of Sebastopol for historical preservation. Administered by the Western Sonoma County Historical Society, the farm is open to the public. There's no admission, but donations are accepted. You can also buy a few plants there.
As for borage, it's used as a salad herb and as a dessert garnish. It's also been used for medicinal purposes and for seed oil. Photographers love to capture the colors--the white, prickly hairs ghosting the spectacular blue blossoms.
When you visit the Gold Ridge Experiment Farm, though, you know the borage is for the bees. The nectar-rich blossoms are theirs and theirs alone.