Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/335

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By Professor HUGO DE VRIES,


FOR many years I had wished to make a study of fruit culture in California and especially of the production of new varieties. One reason which, more than others, made me decide to accept an invitation to visit California was the prospect of making the personal acquaintance of Luther Burbank.

Burbank is the man who creates all the novelties in horticulture, a work which every one can not do. It requires a great genius and an almost incredible capacity for work, together with a complete devotion to the purpose in view, to accomplish such results. Burbank possesses all these qualifications, and his previous achievements have excelled all expectations to such an extent that it is rightly presumed that no possible improvements are beyond his reach. In fact, the most impossible things are attributed to him, and the credulous American people expect from him novelties which any person who knows would immediately declare to be nonsense. I once had a conversation, in a Pullman car, with a lady and a gentleman who told me all kinds of interesting stories about plants and fruits, about climate and places and many other things. They knew, of course, Burbank. Every American does, who pretends to know anything about fruits. They told me all about the large and juicy plums, the new pears, the beautiful flowers, and a number of other creations of his. But by far the best and most delicious fruit, entirely new in form, color and flavor, was, they said, a hybrid between a raspberry and a mulberry! Over this mystic novelty her enthusiasm was inexhaustible!

As soon as I had decided about my plans I wrote to Burbank and told him my desire. I had previously been in correspondence with

  1. Authorized translation from the Dutch, by Dr. Pehr Olsson-Seffer, Stanford University. This article was written by Dr. H. de Vries, the eminent botanist and originator of the mutation-theory, while in California last summer. It was originally published in the magazine 'de Gids' in Holland, and forms a part of the third chapter of a book 'Naar Californië' by de Vries, which recently appeared in Amsterdam. It is of considerable interest to note the impressions de Vries, the scientific botanical experimenter, received during his first visit to Luther Burbank, the foremost practical plant-breeder in the world, whose remarkable achievements have created world-wide admiration, and to whom the Carnegie Institution recently granted an annual appropriation to insure the undisturbed continuation of his work for the next ten years.