Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The California Nursery Company History

The California Nursery Company is one of the best kept historical horticultural secrets of Fremont and of California.

Folks in Fremont probably all know that we have a early California mission, Mission San Jose.   And we have some historic buildings - Ardenwood Farm, the Chadbourne Carriage House, and Shinn Park.  Then there is the Niles Canyon Railway and the Essanay Silent Film Museum.  However, if you are the average Fremontian you probably don't know much or anything about the California Nursery Company.

Yet, at one time, the California Nursery Company was the largest nursery West of the Rockies.

To get oriented to who is who and the timeline, start by reading:

Important/interesting dates to get you oriented:
  • 1865 The California Nursery Company in San Jose was owned by John Rock.
  • 1884 The nursery was moved to Niles.  The nursery was a square mile, north of the mouth of Alameda Creek, adjacent to the Hayward Fault.
  • 1903 The book The Smyrna fig at home and abroad is published by George C. Roeding (Fresno).  Fig caprification was a big deal for the California fig industry.  You can read about the trip to discover the mystery of Smyrna fig pollination.  Fascinating!  (However, there is a book from 1891 by Byron Martin Lelong Fig Caprification: Or the Setting of the Fruit that is not available online that might have more information.  Find this!)
  • 1904 John Rock died and William J. Landers took over
  • 1906 William J. Landers was injured in earthquake and died in 1907.
  • 1908 William H. Landers took over for his father.
  • 1912 W. V. Eberly, nursery manager, was appointed second president of the new California Nursery Association.
  • 1912 Broncho Billy and Charlie Chaplin films are made at Essanay Studios in Niles.
  • 1915 The palms at the  Panama Pacific International Exposition were obtained and moved from the California Nursery Company.
  • 1917 George C. Roeding bought the California Nursery Company.
  • 1930's to 1960's the nursery had an annual bulb show.  Dutch girls rubbed elbows with Mariachi bands to celebrate the spring flowers.
  • 1972 The nursery became a city park.


  1. Hi nice Post written by you guys. It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site. Thank a ton for such a nice post.
    online nursery

    1. Thank you! We now have a facebook page for the park: