History of Horton Iris Garden
It was a hobby that grew quickly and got out of hand. In 1990, Mary Ann started gathering many unnamed historic iris rhizomes in the surrounding countryside to landscape down the long driveway and around the 100 year old farm house. Once she discovered sources for newer hybridized irises, she couldn't clear the weeds fast enough. In 1999, she opened her gardens to the public and continued teaching mathematics full time at Sierra College and American River College. She now has over 1300 varieties of irises. Today, a 5-acre park-like setting is dotted with rows of labeled iris plantings of fragrant, re-blooming (bloom more than once during the year), historic, or new iris varieties. Also, she has planted over 60 varieties of daylilies, several varieties of lavender. There are picnic areas for private groups and an art display wall for artists, plus Doug Horton's jewelry and garden art.
History of Webb-Horton Farm
In 1857, the first generation, Elisha Webb, settled on this property as a gold miner and cattle rancher. In the 1870s, Elisha homesteaded 240 acres with the deeds signed by Ulysses S. Grant. Elisha and wife, Nancy Derrick-Webb, both died young leaving 3 minor sons (see Frank) They were placed under the guardianship of James O. Loomis and earned their keep working in a hotel and the Franklin (stage coach) House. Frank Webb purchased shares of property from two brothers and later married Etta Pearl Howard. They had one daughter, Hazel Webb Horton. Since Frank died young, Grandma Pearl and Hazel kept the property in the family. Grandma Pearl had a prenuptial agreement in 1915 with her second husband, John Boyington, to keep the land for Hazel, and pay for her college. John built the present house as a wedding gift for Pearl. Grandma and Grandpa built the water system that pipes the water from 2 miles away and planted the extensive orchards, vineyards, along with the cattle ranching on the 240 acres. When a disease destroyed most of the fruit trees in the late 1960s, the family decided not to replant. Different parts of 240 acres were sold over the years.
Ed, son of Ed & Hazel Horton, reclaimed and remodeled the house in early 1980s. In 1990, Ed married Mary Ann Horton (no relation) and she has reclaimed some of the land from blackberries and weeds. Ed said, Grandma Pearl spent her life moving the rocks away from house, and Mary Ann has carried them back plus many more.
In 2003, Doug and Jennifer Horton moved to the farm to help with the iris garden and reopen other areas of the farm. They brought with them their daughter, Majken, the sixth generation to live and work on the farm. Doug and Jennifer were salmon biologists in Alaska for ten years, and then sailed for seven years on their 27 foot sailboat from Alaska to the South Pacific and Australia. Now they have built a "contemporary farm house" and put down the "anchor", but still sail every summer in Alaska on their boat.
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