Explore the Orchard
The earliest orchards at the Rancho were planted during John Temple’s time. In addition to the citrus, olives, pomegranates in the backyard he grew, apples, pears, cherries on the slopes falling away from the adobe. Seeds for some of the stone fruit came from Temple’s home in Massachussets.
When the Bixby’s moved in and made the Rancho their home the fruit enriched their diet and promoted fond memories. Llewellyn Bixby purchased the adobe house and remaining acreage in 1929. The time period falls into what is considered the Golden Age of Gardening because the wealthy across America were establishing grand estates. Most, if not all of these estates featured orchards. Landscape Architect, Ralph D. Cornell designed two orchards in the plan the Bixby’s selected. Cornell had his own history with fruit trees, writing, Subtropical Fruits of California in a Pomona College periodical in 1914.
The primary orchard at the top of the drive features tropical and subtropical fruit. Cornell’s placement of the tender trees on the southern exposure cools the adobe; via the shade and humidity they provide. The afternoon breeze moving through the trees drops the temperature even further. When infrequent frost strikes Long Beach the tender trees are protected in return by the warmth of the house. During the harsh freeze Long Beach experienced in 1931, even the tropical guavas came through without serious damage.
The primary orchard was renovated in 2001 with the support of the Navy Trust. The only significant change was to include a pathway to accommodate visitors. The fruit is harvested for the following gourmet preserves sold in the Gift Shop: