was the son of famed banker, financier and nurseryman
Frederick Roeding (1824-1910)(2).
Roeding emigrated from Germany to South America in the
1840’s and then to California during the gold rush.
He tried his hand at
mining but soon returned to San Francisco where he was
exceedingly successful as a banker, and became vice
president of the German Savings and Loan Society.
In 1869, he and 7 other
German financiers bought 80,000 acres in Fresno County.
This property greatly
increased in value after the railroad passed through the
land and the town of Fresno was formed.
Frederick used part of his
11,000 acres to found the Fancher Creek Nursery in 1883. (2)
(1868-1928) grew up in San Francisco, but moved with his
parents to Fresno.
When he finished high
school in 1886, instead of continuing to college, his father
gave him permission to try his hand at managing the Fancher
Roeding showed great
ability and Fancher Creek turned a profit the first year
George was manager.
Roeding’s relationship with California Nursery began decades
before he purchased the business.
He had known the managers
of California Nursery, John Rock and W. V. Eberly (7)
and was very intrigued
with the plant experiments and particularly thought the 40
acre test orchard was highly valuable (8).
Roeding had his son,
Jr. work at the nursery
during the summers of 1914 and 1915, under the management of
W. V. Eberly (8).
In 1917 he bought the
California Nursery Company from William H. Landers, a San
Francisco financier whose father, William J. Landers, had
been one of the original investors in the Nursery in
Roeding turned out to be extremely gifted not only as a
nurseryman but as a plant scientist, businessman and writer.
He published various books
and articles on his plant discoveries (3)(4)(5).
He was considered a leader
among U.S. nurserymen; he served as president of the Pacific
Coast Nursery Association in 1910 and was instrumental in
forming the California Association of Nurseryman in 1911 and
was its first president(13)
was also an Ex Officio Regents of the University of
California from 1917-1919 in their Department of Agriculture
Roeding’s greatest success was in showing that the Symra fig
could succeed in California.
He was able to manually
pollinate the fig blossoms with pollen from wild figs and
have fruit develop.
He then was integral to
the process of importing the natural pollinator of the
Smyrna, a fig wasp from Turkey(9).. Production of figs in
California was highly lucrative and formed the basis of
Roeding Fig and Olive Co,
a important stock company.
Roeding also supported and
promoted Luther Burbank and was instrumental in introducing
many Burbank’s new plant varieties (1).
Roeding worked closely
with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and their various
experimental stations and from 1917 to 1919 was the
President of the State Board of Agriculture(6).
PLANT EXPERIMENTS AT
Roeding, the nursery continued experimenting with new plant
varieties in the Niles experimental orchard.
In 1921, Roeding wrote
test orchard, covering 40 acres, and containing
approximately 1000 varieties, is a branch of the business of
which we are very proud.
These trees are the source
of bud-wood for growing our exceptionally fine,
well-matured, perfect root system trees”
(10 ) One of the key trees produced at California Nursery
was the wild plum tree.
This wild plum tree was
imported from Europe and proved to be a very popular understock tree for grafting peaches, apricots and other
CNC was the only nursery
in the United States to produce this particular wild plum
which was in high demand throughout the United States and
the Nursery produced 6000 pounds of plum seed annually.
Roeding was able to
streamline the production of the plum seed by applying his
experience in Fresno with raisins.
He adapted the raisin
cleaning machine into a plum cleaner to speed up the
This machine is still in
Niles and is being restored as a functional machine for
George Roeding was very public
minded and when the US joined World War I, he attempted to
He was considered too old
for active duty, but he still did his part.
Soldier’s gas masks
required charcoal filters, and it turns out that the pits of
peach pits are one of the best sources for that purpose.
Roeding was brought to
Washington where the Chemical War Department offered $50,000
for his assistance in producing peach pits.
California Nursery Company to produced large quantities of
peach pits, and was pleased to return the $50,000 he had
been given for the purpose, all but $350 for expenses(8)
Roeding also was highly supportive of the gardens for
convicts program and provided thousands of roses to San
This program started after
the end of World War I and George Roeding supplied roses to
San Quentin yearly until his death.
Roeding felt strongly that
working with gardens could be a
hand to the unfortunate; … that will change the derelict
from a pessimist to an optimist; that will convert the
down-and-outer into a useful member of society; to create
courage in place of despair, to repair a lost manhood and
give it the character and stability that will command
instrumental in having some of the family land donated to
the city of Fresno for a public park, and the family founded
one of the largest parks in Fresno, Roeding Park.
It was always his hope
that some of the land of California Nursery at Niles would
be set aside for public gardens as well.
a statewide vision to the California Nursery Company and
under his management,
Nursery in Niles became the headquarters of an expansive
network of retail outlets and growing grounds throughout
California from Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose in the
north, to Fresno and Modesto in central California, to
Ventura and LaBrea in Southern California.
As part of this expansion
he was specialized in the production of trees in zones where
they would be best suited.
As he says in 1921, “Our
fruit trees are being grown in our branch nursery at Loomis,
Placer County, California, in a soil composed of
disintegrated granite which produces a very fine fibrous
root system.” (10)
Under Roeding the
widespread and zonally specialized nursery made California
Nursery the biggest nursery west of the Rockies with a
the opportunity of an expanding ornamental plants market as
people immigrated to California and new housing developments
and businesses developed.
The Nursery not only
produced a wide variety of ornamental plants but Roeding
hired landscape architects who were kept continually busy
designing gardens and landscaping for private homes,
businesses and public gardens.
Many famous people of the
bay area had their garden designed by and plants supplied by
California Nursery Company.
Creek Nursuries, New products of the trees; a treatise on
Luther Burbank's late introductions. 1908-1909: The Formosa,
Gaviota and Vesuvius plum, 1907-1908: The Paradox and Royal
black walnut, the Santa Rosa plum and the Rutland plumcot
Bailey, L. H. The Standard Cyclopedia of
Horticulture: A Discussion for the Amateur, and the
Professional and Commercial Grower, of the Kinds,
Characteristics and Methods of Cultivation of the Species of
Plants Grown in the Regions of the United States and Canada
for Ornament, for Fancy, for Fruit and for Vegetables; with
Keys to the Natural Families and Genera, Descriptions of the
Horticultural Capabilities of the States and Provinces and
Dependent Islands, and Sketches of Eminent Horticulturists,
Horticultural Capabilities of the States and Provinces and
Dependent Islands, and Sketches of Eminent Horticulturists
1903 Roeding George
C. The Smyrna Fig, At Home snd
Abroad: A Treatise On Practical Smyrna Fig Culture
George C. Roeding Practical Planter’s Guide:
The result of Thirty Years Experience in California
George C. Roeding’s Fruit Growers Guide
Proceedings of the Nurseryman’s association 1911
Bruce Roeding, personal communication, April 2013
1921 Wickson, E. J. California Nurserymen and the Plant
Industry 180-1910; The California Association of Nurserymen,
1921 Price List, Presidents Remarks
Roeding Sr. and San Quintin’s Garden Beautiful