Dr. Samuel Ayres Jr. : Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Samuel Ayres had an idea that caught fire and the result was the development in Southern California of an Arboretum in Arcadia. He envisioned it to be a complex of great botanical and historical fascination and importance.

As a young boy in the Midwest, he held an interest in plants and flowers and had a flower stand in his front yard. His customers were those who had let him cut flowers from their yards.

Dr. Ayres became a successful dermatologist by profession and a confirmed horticulturist by avocation.

In 1939, he and his wife, Helen, took a trip to Hawaii, where he was impressed with the numerous flowering trees and shrubs. He saw a need to make Southern California plant life more colorful. He expressed the most likely way to bring about such a transformation in our landscape would be to establish an arboretum, where new plants could be introduced, planted and studied, so they could be seen and admired by the public. Then, with the creation of a demand for such plants, the arboretum could make them available to interested nurseries. The nurseries, in turn, would make them available to those interested and hopefully, a demanding public. A group of like-minded individuals researched many possibilities for an arboretum. Dr. Ayres was invited to Rancho Santa Anita for a picnic. Once there, he knew this was the perfect place for the Arboretum.

His leadership and many willing qualified people made his vision become a reality in 1941.

In 1983 the Hall of Environmental Education was dedicated as Ayres Hall in honor of his contributions as founding father of the Arboretum.

He would be pleased to see the success of the Arboretum and how it has promoted his goals.

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