The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants

by Jane S. Smith


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The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants by Jane S. Smith

The wide-ranging and delightful history of celebrated plant breeder Luther Burbank and the business of farm and garden in early twentieth- century America

At no other time in history has there been more curiosity or concern about the food we eat-and genetically modified foods, in particular, have become both pervasive and suspect. A century ago, however, Luther Burbank's blight-resistant potatoes, white blackberries, and plumcots-a plum-apricot hybrid-were celebrated as triumphs in the best tradition of American ingenuity and perseverance. In his experimental grounds in Santa Rosa, California, Burbank bred and cross-bred edible and ornamental plants-for both home gardens and commercial farms-until they were bigger, hardier, more beautiful, and more productive than ever before. A fascinating portrait of an American original, The Garden of Invention is also a colorful and engrossing tale of the intersection of gardening, science and business in the years between the Civil War and the Great Depression.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143116899
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/23/2010
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 1,300,719
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jane S. Smith received her Ph.D. in English from Yale University and has taught at Northwestern University on topics ranging from twentieth-century fiction to the history of public health. Her history of the first polio vaccine, Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine, received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science and Technology. She has served as a commentator, consultant, and writer for numerous documentary film projects. She works in a very small room with a very large window.

Table of Contents


Part I Inventing the Garden

1 Nature in an Age of Invention 13

2 The Lucky Spud 35

3 The Second Gold Rush 51

4 Faster, Better, Sweeter 75

5 A Personal Interlude 99

6 Marketing the New Creation 107

Part II Understanding the Garden

7 The Philosopher in the Orchard, the Scientist in the Pea Patch 133

8 California Boosters and the Ivory Tower 159

9 The Carnegie Institution Seal of Approval 175

10 The Training of the Human Plant 189

11 Learning from Luther Burbank 197

12 The Corn Palace and the Empire of the Prickly Pear 319

Part III Possessing the Garden

13 The Meeting of the Masters 239

14 The Garden of Beautiful Thoughts 253

15 Transplanting the Legacy 273

16 The Creator's Art 287

17 The Garden as Intellectual Property 297

Epilogue: Searching for Luther Burbank 317

Acknowledgments 327

Notes 330

Selected Bibliography 337

Index 344

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