Thursday, January 01, 2009

PIONEERS OF AMERICAN LANDSCAPE DESIGN:William Edward Vortriede (1861-1940). By Kurt Culbertson ©2009
William Vortriede was born in Germany, October 24, 1861, a son of Edward and Paulina (Berger) Vortriede. Mr. Vortriede received his education in the schools of Germany and at an early age decided to take up gardening as a trade.[1] In 1886, Vortriede, immigrated to the United States and went direct to Toledo, Ohio, where he worked for his uncle for four years.[2] Vortriede then came to San Diego where he worked for Coronado Beach for four years.[3] From San Diego, Vortriede moved to Stockton, where he was employed at the state hospital for thirteen years.[4] In 1895 he was married to Christina Jergensen.[5] The couple had two children Paulina and Edward.
In June 1904, Vortriede was put in charge of the school grounds of Stockton.[6] He later spent four years as landscape gardener for George West & Sons and then two years for Dr. Samuel Langdon orchard operation.[7] During this period of time Vortriede wrote of the revival of the geometric style of landscape gardening.[8] In 1911 he was made state gardener at the capitol grounds in Sacramento.[9] The site under Vortriede’s care was thirty acres in size.[10] In this position, Vortriede wrote on the importance of roadway trees.[11] In 1915, Vortriede offered to design the grounds of all state academic institutions. The first of these was the Los Angeles Normal School.[12] It is not know how long Vortriede remained as state gardener but he was apparently still in this position through 1930.[13] Vortriede died in Sacramento on May 28, 1940.[14]
Vortriede was a Republican. His hobby is the study and cultivation of plants and flowers." Vortriede’s spineflower, Systenotheca vortriedei, collected in the San Lucia Mountains, is named for him. [15]

[1] Reed, Walter G., History of Sacramento, California, Los Angeles: Historic Record Company, 1923, p. 732.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Sacramento Biographies, William Vortriede,
[4] Ibid.
[5] 1900 United States Census of Stockton California, e.d. 115, p. 8.
[7] 1910 United States Census of Merce, California, e.d. 100, p. 14A.
[8] “The Revival of Geometric Landscape Gardening,” Park and Cemetery and Landscape Gardening, Chicago, Vol. XII, No. 9, November 1902.
[9] Roster of State, County, and City Officials, Sacramento, 1913, p. 17.
[10] “Expert Advice,” Western Journal of Education, San Francisco, November 1914, Vol. XX, No. 11, p. 17.
[11] “Roadside Trees, The Monthly Bulletin, California Commission of Horticulture, Oct. 1912, Vol. 1, No. 11, p. 852-855
[12] “Vortreide to Plan Grounds” Sacramento Bee, April 12, 1915, p. 5.
[13] Storer, Tracy I., “Range Extensions by the Western Robin in California,” The Condor, November 1926, Vol. XXVIII, p. 264., see also 1930 United States Census of Sacramento, ed. 34-71, p. 12A.
[14] California Death Index 1940-1997.
[15] Eastwood, Alice, “Some Alpine Castillejos of the High Sierra of California,” The American Midland Naturalist, University of Notre Dame, 1943.