Theodore Payne was born in North Hamptonshire,
England and served an apprenticeship in horticulture. He
came to Los Angeles in 1893 and fell in love with the California
flora, dedicating his life to its preservation.
in the early years of this century, native vegetation was
being lost to agriculture and housing at an alarming rate.
He urged the use of California native plants and lectured
across the state on preserving the wild flowers and landscapes
native to California.
In his own nursery and seed
business, which he started in 1903, native wildflowers and
landscapes were his specialty. In 1915 he laid out and planted
262 species in a five-acre wild garden in Los Angeles' Exposition
Park. He later helped to establish the Blaksley Botanic
Garden in Santa Barbara, planted 178 native species in the
California Institute of Technology Botanic Garden in Pasadena,
helped create the native plant garden at Los Angeles' Descanso
Gardens, and advised the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
in Orange County.
By the time he retired in 1958,
Payne had made over 400 species of native plants available
to the public.
rapidity with which the wildflowers are decreasing is most
damning. If we do not begin to preserve them, the time will
come when they will become extinct and live only in history.
-Theodore Payne, 1916