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Celebrate Halloween with the ghost of Theodosia Burr Shepherd’s daughter

October 26, 2017

“In the field of your imagination are all possible flowers.”
Theodosia Burr Shepherd, the Flower Wizard of California.


Theodosia Burr Shepherd was known as “The Flower Wizard of California” and as the mother of the bulb and seed business of California. Theodosia encouraged women to grow seeds and bulbs.  In fact it was said in Ventura County the “making” of new flower varieties was as common as new cake recipes in other places.

 “In the love of flowers…[it is] as if the soul of the plant comes in touch with our soul. If the plant possesses the power to around such strong vibrations within us, is it possible the vibrations from us are received by the flower? We and the plant are the manifestations of the same force.” Theodosia Burr Shepherd

Learn about the remarkable life of Theodosia Burr Shepherd when her daughter, Myrtle Shepherd Francis returns from the dead on Halloween, Oct. 31, 2017 to regale us with stories about old Ventura, her mother, and the development of Ventura’s flower seed business. Join us at the site of the famous gardens in Ventura on the corner of Poli and Chestnut Streets during one of two 30 minute living history performances: 1:30 and 4:30pm in a script written by local historian Suzanne P. Lawrence. 

Revered by many as “the female Luther Burbank,” Theodosia Burr Shepherd hybridized flowers in Ventura while Burbank created new vegetables and fruits in Santa Rosa. An article in the Pittsburgh Gazette proclaimed: “The Woman Wizard, Mrs. Theodosia Burr Shepherd, is to the world of flowers all that Luther Burbank is to the vegetable kingdom.”

Theodosia sent her seeds and bulbs all over America and abroad, to England and Europe, even as far as Australia and Algiers. Her extraordinary gardens in Ventura were full of her exotic creations and drew many notable visitors: among them the famous seed man W. Atlee Burpee, suffragettes Julia Ward Howe, and Susan B. Anthony. It was said that her gardens “put Ventura on the map.”

Theodosia birthed many new flowers including new varieties of chrysanthemums, nasturtiums, poppies, geraniums, cosmos, calla lilies, cannas, dahlias, pansies, petunias, zinnias, fuchsias, azaleas, heliotrope, the heavenly blue morning glory, and the golden oriole rose, to name a few. And my great grandmother Anna Paquette was the midwife.

Although C.O.L.O.R. volunteers work to maintain the gardens as a place to grow food for the community and the homeless and hungry, funding is still needed for water, fencing, irrigation and ongoing costs. Both organizational and individual sponsorships are available through name recognition plaques, visible in the bustling heart of downtown Ventura. Along with C.O.L.O.R., other event supporters include the Ventura Botanical Gardens, The Begonia Society, COLOR Ventura Botanical Gardens, Green Thumb Nursery, Ventura Historical Society, Ventura City Parks & Recreation Department, and the Ventura Garden Club.

A hike through the Ventura Botanical Garden to the Ventura Cross will follow the performance. The Botanical Garden is located above City Hall and a short walk from the site of the former Shepherd’s Gardens.

The event is free and open to the public. Please wear closed toe walking shoes. A hat is recommended. If you don’t want to sit on the ground during the presentation, please bring a chair.

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