A botanic garden and herbarium of native plants of California which gives promise of becoming internationally famous is being planted in the Santa Ana canyon, just a few miles from Yorba Linda on the Rancho Santa Ana. Mrs. Susanna Bixby-Bryant, owner of the rancho, is making this garden a memorial to her father, according to the April issue of the California Citrograph, which tells of the project.
“Rancho Santa Ana, long known in citrus growing and marketing circles for its superior type of fruit, is destined to much wider fame—international, in fact, through the establishment of a Botanic Garden of native plants of California. Mrs. Susanna Bixby-Bryant, as a memorial to her distinguished pioneer father, the late John W. Bixby, and to extend a knowledge of California's native plants and flowers, has under way a scientific planting of the thousands of botanical specimens on scenic stretches of hillside and interspersed meadows on her property. Linked up with, and perhaps of greater research value, is the herbarium which has been built with the strikingly beautiful Bryant Ranch home at an elevation of 650 feet above seal level.”
“It must necessarily take some years to bring the accomplishment, but a surprising amount of preliminary detail has already been effected, and from a cursory examination of plans for the plantings to be made and a discussion of the systematic methods of attacking the big undertaking, it would appear as though a five-year period would see the work well on its way to completion. However, it will doubtless be 20 years before the work will come to its full visible accomplishment.”
“The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, as it is officially designated, will comprise eventually 250 acres along the slopes and from an elevation of 650 feet above sea level where the home and herbarium are located, to one of 1,100 feet when it is finally extended to the top of the ridge, or to one of 935 feet as planned for immediate development. All of this has been carefully surveyed and a topographic map has been drawn showing trails, natural terraces and contours and the entire acreage has been marked off thereon in plots of 100 feet square. Water, of which there is ample under pressure, reaches the higher levels in sufficient amounts to make the contemplated plantings successful.”
“Ernest Braunton, the well-known horticulturist, was employed by Mrs. Bryant to make a planting plan of trees and shrubs for the 165 acre botanic garden area and to plot out where the various trees and shrubs and plants would thrive most advantageously, climatic soil and environmental conditions being considered. They are to be largely grouped in very general classes or types, such as conifers, cacti, sunflowers, rose types, manzanitas, wild lilacs, alders, willows, poplars, oaks, etc. Five great charts of the 165 acres were drawn, indicating to a nicety where each group is to be set. Some preliminary plantings have already been made according t the plan and the work will be extended just as rapidly as conditions warrant.”
“The foundation planting roughly described will comprise one of shrubs and trees from all over California set off with open spaces or meadows. Then there will be a second general group of perennials, lilies, ferns, and which will comprise all the smaller flowering plants.
“The herbarium has been in charge of J.T. Howell, who as resident botanist, has collected some 1,300 specimens during his term on the ranch. In the herbarium will be found ultimately dried mounted specimens of the basic 4,000 varieties of types of wild flowers native to California. This list of 4,000 is considered most conservative and is based on an estimate made by one of California's botanists known for his extreme conservatism. The number of specimens apparently is limitless according to the viewpoint of the botanist. Some who are more liberal have hundreds of additional classifications made by subdividing the varieties.”
“The plans being followed at the Rancho Santa Ana herbarium will be a very useful source of information for teachers and students. Not only will they be able to see the mounded specimens in the herbarium, but they will be able to walk out and see the same tree, shrub, or plant actually growing in its natural conditions in the garden.”
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