Our Own Washington Orange Tree
When I first arrived at Glen Ivy Hot Springs in 2008 I knew of its 150 year history and long illustrious life in the spa world. I knew of California’s influence on the orange industry from the San Joaquin Valley to the borders of Mexico. I knew of how the missions dotted the countryside and how the padres introduced fruit and oranges and other citrus to this region in the early 1800′s.
What I did not know was that the orange industry got some help to its start in Riverside, California (just a stones throw away from Glen Ivy) just five years after the Hot Springs opened its doors in 1860. Riverside was where the Azores Native, Valencia Native, Brazil’s Native and the Sweet Washington Navel (which some consider the finest of all oranges) were all planted. It was the Washington variety that started the orange industry boom across America. With the Valencia fruit producing in the summer and Washington Navels growing full speed in the winter, California had America supplied with oranges year round. When Brazil’s Navel crop died from disease, all the future fruit from these Washington tree are said to have originated in Riverside’s mother orchard.
The Washington fruit flourished with great numbers until the mid-forties when Los Angeles started to grow after the war and housing chopped down most of the Washington orchards. There is one of the mother trees that still exists in Riverside and is considered a California Historical Landmark. And guess what? One of the mother trees from the Washington variety has its very healthy roots growing right here at Glen Ivy Hot Springs–something which I find very thrilling. Just think, just a stones throw away from my kitchen is one of the Washington orange trees that were part of the team that helped to start America’s orange industry.
It’s our dream here at Glen Ivy Hot Springs to propagate some babies from this Washington Navel mother from her cuttings that will develop into a producing orchard under the shade of their mother’s watchful eye. You just have to come by and see, and maybe taste, a part of history. Isn’t that great!?
Your Chef, Bill Wavrin