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Marshall Olbrich, 1920–1991

Articles: Marshall Olbrich, 1920–1991

In 1941 Marshall Olbrich came to California from Wisconsin to do graduate work in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and, after nearly twenty academic and urban years in San Francisco, he and his partner Lester Hawkins did what virtually everybody in those days talked about. They moved to the country, built a house with their own hands, and started a garden.

Marshall Olbrich

Western Hills, the idiosyncratic and distinguished garden they created in Occidental, about sixty miles north of San Francisco, is a romantic paradise and a tremendous plant collection, a demonstration of the best sort of plantings for this area and a nursery, developed by Marshall, of good and rare plants. As the garden evolved, through drought and deluge and devastating frost, Marshall Olbrich became one of the foremost plantsmen of this country. He had a world-wide correspondence with other gardeners and plant enthusiasts and collected plants and seeds from everywhere. He grew plants from every Mediterranean climate and dispersed them with an eye for excellence and usefulness and, for a nurseryman, a lunatic gene...

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