TPF Chronology

March 30, 1960 The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants, Inc. established to carry on the work and preserve the legacy of nurseryman, horticulturist and conservationist Theodore Payne. The Foundation’s first Board of Directors includes 11 members with Burnell Yarick serving as President.

1961 Donation of 100 botanical watercolor paintings by Jane Pinheiro, arranged by Tasker and Beuhla Edmiston and Bonnie Templeton, in association with The Nature Conservancy.

1962 Botanist and Hollywood native Ed Peterson begins the first seed collecting program at TPF.

January 19, 1963 Dedication ceremony of Whittier Narrows site for continuing Theodore Payne’s work and a Foundation nursery, with Mr. Payne speaking to a gathering of distinguished guests. The site was owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who – shortly after the dedication – withdrew the rights to use the land because the Foundation would be selling plants.

May 6, 1963 Theodore Payne dies at age 91.

1966 Nurseryman Eddie Merrill, a colleague and friend of Theodore Payne, donates 20-acre site in Sun Valley to the Foundation.

1969 Adjacent two-acre property acquired for Foundation offices.

1971 California Garden Clubs declares Sun Valley headquarters and nursery to be a bird sanctuary with more than 60 different species identified on the property.

1972 Trail built on Wild Flower Hill. Ten western sycamore trees planted in the new picnic area.

1976 Propagation class taught by Burnell Yarick deemed a success and (per the Board minutes) “May be the start of increased educational activity at TPF.”

1978 TPF donates 200 redwood saplings to Descanso Gardens for the planting of a redwood grove. The Poppy Print newsletter (then edited by Ysabel Fetterman) published on regular quarterly schedule.

1980 Fire in La Tuna Canyon reaches parts of upper Foundation property: shrubs and trees burned or scorched (burn marks are still visible on the old oak at the base of Wild Flower Hill); plant stock lost or seriously singed. Subsequent rainy season saw significant flooding and debris flow along the road, as well as a resurgence of non-native plants, such as mustard and wild oats.

1983 First Wild Flower Hotline, a recorded phone message offering free weekly updates on where to find the best spring wild flowers. (Today’s hotline is available only on-line.)

1986 Poppy Day – now a spring tradition – first observed at TPF.

1989 Four new wildflower seed mixes created – Perennial, Mountain, Hummingbird and Butterfly – to augment our selection of vintage mixtures developed by Mr. Payne.

1991 TPF publishes Gardener’s Guide to California Wildflowers by Kevin Connelly. Shade structure erected in East Sales Yard, expanding space for retail nursery offerings.

1993 One hundred years ago, Theodore Payne arrived in Southern California.

1996 We’ve got e-mail.

1999 Website at www.theodorepayne.org matures to include plant library with photos. Inaugural Fall Festival – then and now, our biggest plant sale of the year.

2000 Plant of the Month program begins with special discount to members. First offering: Quercus lobata, Valley Oak

2002  Automatic irrigation installed in growing areas. (To this day, the sales yard is still watered by hand.)

2004 First Annual Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour features 21 gardens in the Los Angeles area. Theodore Payne In His Own Words: A Voice for California Native Plants, co-published with Many Moons Press.

2004 Donation of native bulb collection from the estate of Fred Smith, a volunteer who created our bulb program in the 1990s. Dedication of the Fred Smith Bulb House for preservation, study and propagation of California geophytes.

2005 Education Program grows with expansion of classes, outreach to schools and addition of full-time staff.

2006 Opening of Theodore Payne Gallery to house quarterly exhibitions of work focused on California flora and natural history. First posting of the TPF e-newsletter.

2007 Nursery growing area expands with construction of “4-inch Upper” and “1-gallon Upper” shade houses. Larger highly detailed placards created for the Sales Yard. Weekly nursery inventory posted on the website each Thursday.

2008 TPF receives a space for plant sales and outreach at the Sunday Hollywood Farmers’ Market.

2009 California Native Plant Library goes live on the website and includes more than 1000 illustrated entries with detailed horticultural information, plant guides and more.

2010 Theodore Payne Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary.

2010 Nursery growing area expands with construction of two new terraces for 1-gallon plants.

2011 TPF receives $930,000 grant from the State of California for the construction of new nature education facilities.

2012  Inception of the TPF Local Source Initiative.

2013 More than 250 active volunteers contribute nearly 4700 hours of service to the Foundation. TPF staff and volunteers participate in more than 100 local outreach events. Satellite Theodore Payne Nursery set up at the Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia.

2013 Bench-warming system installed to improve plant propagation.

2014 Launch of new TPF website.

2015 Introduction of TPF Garden Share Network, a horticulture program involving home gardeners in the evaluation of native species and cultivars.