Louis Pellier: The Man Who Introduced the Prune to the Santa Clara Valley from His Native France

The park is also a California Historical Landmark site, No 434, SITE OF CITY GARDENS – NURSERY OF LOUIS PELLIER. Louis Pellier came to California in 1849 from Saint-Hippolyte, France and became the founder of California’s prune industry. In October 1850, he established a nursery called City Gardens. Aided by his brothers Pierre and Jean, who came over from France later, introduced the French prune-la petite prune d’Agen-into California during the winter of 1856-57. This effort turned the valley floor into the “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” where 100,000 acres were planted in fruit trees and provided a spring time sight of white blossoms.


"Getting the seeds ready for shipment was simple, requiring only sufficient care to see that each variety was put into its own container and properly labeled. With the scions and cuttings it was another story. They demanded skill and experience. In the first place, they had to be taken at a certain season and started on their way as soon as possible in order to reach their destination, before they passed their stage of usefulness. Every item had to be handled individually in order to select the stock best fitted to stand the trip. Grape cuttings were bundled and wrapped in special wrappers. Fruit scions, especially those of the prune, were stuck into potatoes and packed in sawdust or moss, thus insuring the exact amount of moisture to keep them alive. Indeed, the whole procedure was one of preserving life. Even after the last selection and wrapping had been made, the precious collection, weighing about five hundred pounds, had to be packed into two great trunks in a manner guaranteed to prevent bruising and breakage at the hands of some overmuscled "baggage smasher."

- A Century of Pioneers: The California Pelliers


Original City Gardens Nursery Outline

Outline of the original City Gardens Nursery that was started by Louis and Pierre Pellier.

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"Until World War II the Santa Clara was a vast orchard that extended from Palo Alto to Gilroy, with vineyards on the foothills of the mountain on either side. This scene was based on the early work of Louis Pellier and his brothers, Pierre and Jean.
Born in France, Louis left his native village in 1848 and was in South America when news of California gold reached him. He promptly made his way to California, apparently made enough money to leave the Trinity diggings, and arrived in San Jose in 1850. With a countryman's eye for good agricultural land, and knowing the miners' need for fresh food, he bought a lot at the corner of San Pedro Street and Chaboya Alley and established a nursery, calling it Pellier's Citi Gardens." - Pueblo Dedication Pamphlet (1977)


Original Pellier Park Photos

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