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HIDDEN CORNERS

Mr. Potato's plot of ground

March 25, 2007|Avital Binshtock

WHAT

The Luther Burbank Home & Gardens

WHERE

Santa Rosa and Sonoma avenues in Santa Rosa, Calif.

GETTING THERE

From San Francisco, take U.S. 101 north and exit toward downtown Santa Rosa; turn right on 3rd Street, then right on Santa Rosa Avenue.

WHY TAKE A DETOUR

If you've ever eaten a French fry, you've probably tasted Luther Burbank's work -- the Burbank potato. The famous horticulturalist lived and worked here until he died in 1926 (although he was a Massachusetts native). In the 1880s, he chose this tucked-away plot for its prolific soil and abundant sunlight. A visit proves fascinating whether you're a budding botanist, a flourishing professional or even a casual observer who's never given grafting a thought.

With plant-breeding experimentation, Burbank developed more than 800 cultivars, including the nectarine, the plumcot and the Shasta daisy. At the mini-estate, signs along brick pathways explain the breadth of Burbank's Darwin-inspired work. View his still-working 1889 greenhouse, amble through his prized rose gardens, pay tribute at the peaceful Memorial Garden and, if you've come at the right time (see below), tour his Greek Revival-style residence.

The Carriage House Museum, a former garage of sorts, now houses exhibits demonstrating how Burbank's experiments continue to be relevant, as well as a gift shop selling books, seeds and plant-related art.

DETAILS

(707) 524-5445, www.lutherburbank.org. Free self-guided garden tours daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. November to March and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. April through October. Guided tours 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays from April through October. $5; $4, seniors 65 and older and youths 12 to 18; free for kids 11 and younger. Audio tours also available.

-- Avital Binshtock

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