This is a biography  of Lionel Waller in outline form.
Born April 5, 1882,  in London, England, son of John and Katherine, Grandson of Lionel Askim Bedingfield Waller. Had one sister, Viola.
Educated in English public schools.
Emigrated, November 1908  to Canada, then to US.
Moved in 1909,  to Arroyo Grande, California to grow Sweet Peas, initially worked for Reverend Louis Routzhan.
Founded in 1912, LD Waller Seed Company, which became Waller Franklin Seed Company which became Waller Flowerseed Company.
Married May 10 1916, Elsie May Tillson of San Francisco, who had one brother,  True, my nephew Austin True Waller carries on his name, and one sister Ethyl.
Son born July 28 1918, Lionel John Waller, who married June Miller Swaim.
Built, in 1924 his home in Santa Maria, CA

The Lionel D. Waller home on Morrison and McClelland Sts in Santa Maria

This 1924 English Colonial home still has an outside storage area for block ice. Over the door carved in the wood is the name "Milden Hall."  Mildenhall is the birth city in England of L.D. Waller. It was Waller, co-owner of the Waller Franklin Seed Company, who named Santa Maria the "Valley of Flowers," a name that lasted for more than 20 years. The Waller and Franklin homes were never without cut flowers and manicured gardens. Mrs. Waller and Mrs. Franklin, who lived across the street, always looked forward to afternoon tea together. 


Lionel Waller died on February 15, 1940 from a stroke, he had been largely paralyzed for two years prior. After his death, the park he had designed was named for him, the name it carries today, Waller Park, in Santa Maria

The following is a biographical article from the Guadalupe Newspaper.

Guadalupe, California, Thursday August 28, 1930
He supplies Mr. Woolworth With Tons of  Flower Seeds.
L.D. Waller, co-owner of the Waller-Franklin seed farms which have been operating in Guadalupe for 18 years, came to these shores a cockney immigrant boy 25 years ago. He and Dr. J.H. Franklin have built up an industry here of which local people are justly proud

L.D. Waller Has Been in The Flower Seed Business Since Nine Years of Age



By Thomas Collison



In 1905, a 23-year-old English youth found himself on the dock at New York with a few shillings in his pockets and with a steadfast desire to meet up with these Yanks and get into the flower seed business. Failing to find what he wanted in the eastern metropolis he journeyed to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada and served in a flower seed growing enterprise there for a while. He returned to the States, (if Boston is still so-located) and put in two years of hard work among veteran seed growers at that seat of old English culture.

    By this time Horace Greeley’s advice to the young man started its effective work. Young L.D Waller, then 25  years of age, decided that he would go west. Carefully he outlined his route. He would save $2.00 by entraining from Boston to New York thence by water to Galveston, Texas, and continuing from the cotton harbor to California by rail. Waller cursed his economy the night he arrived in the Santa Maria Valley. He had fallen asleep when the old coal burner wheezed into Guadalupe and the result was that he was carried north to San Luis Obispo. His retrun fare from San Luis Obisop on the Pacific Coast railway cost him nearly all of the $2.00 he had saved by taking the long circuitous route from New York to California.

    Waller soon became foreman of  Routzhan Seed Company’s field and warehouse activities in Arroyo Grande. A capacity in which he served for a period of four years.

    In the meantime he had struck up a fast friendship with Guadalupe’s “new doctor”. Dr. J.H. Franklin, as circumstances willed, was met at the Guadalupe railroad station by Waller, upon the invitation of Dr. Pious who was leaving Guadalupe.

    Although Dr. Franklin had never earned his living through nurturing flowers, he was tremendously interested in them as a hobby. As for Waller, he had been in the flower seed farm “in the air castle” since he was nine years old. His father was engaged in the trade in a small way in Totenham, England. L.D. The son busied himself there after academy hours, delivering the seeds his father raised and selected.

    When the friendship of the two partners-to-be was young, life was not hurried or crowded then as now. Men spent more time conversing and cultivating friendships. And as the Waller-Franklin friendship  grew, so did the talk of “our flower seed farm”. In the “air castle” category at first, the talk soon took on a serious character the two men started looking around for land.

    With Frank McCoy then affiliated with the Union Sugar company in Betteravia, in on the deal the triumvirate sought available land to begin the venture. It soon appeared that McCoy’s position with the sugar company might be compromised should he continue in the proposition, so he dropped out. Waller and Franklin forged on together with Paul Giacomini, local financier, a silent partner and began their first operations in November, 1912.

    From the very first the owners and promoters of the seed raising enterprise decided that they would found their business on the principle of integrity. They would at all times adhere to the highest ideals of the profession selling only pure seeds in which the vitality was not a thing to be questioned.

    Their first operations were on the Peter Tognazzini ranch and the first crop was sweet peas. The business progressed until 1919 when Dr. Franklin was obliged to halt his practice of medicine and devote all his time to the flower seed business.

    The World War furnished a great stimulus to all domestic flower seed growing companies and the local firm was no exception to this tendency.

    In the 18 years during which the Waller-Franklin Seed Company has been engaged in business over 100 new varieties of flowers have been developed on the local farm. The Guadalupe entrepreneurs have done more than any other two men in the United States to bring the nasturtium seed growing business to these shores. Before 1812, Holland claimed this business almost in total.

    Today between 1500 and 2000 varieties of flowers are grown on the farm. The business has carried their operations to 18 foreign countries. In fact all of the “civilized” countries with the exception of India and South America where conditions are not conducive to the granting of credit in this particular line of merchandise.

    When the editor of a newspaper wishes to show what he has done in the past with his paper, he turns readily to the files of past copies. When officials at the Waller-Franklin Seed Company wish to show what they have done during the past year, they walk out to a large test plot where flowers bloom and nod in the chill air. There they are, all variety, shapes, colors and sizes. They are a living catalogue of the flowers sold during the past year. The grower knows what the seeds he sold are doing now in a thousand different flower gardens for he can see what their “brother seeds” are doing in his own plot.

    Two hundred tons of nasturtium and 100 tons of mixed sweet peas are raised at the farm each year.

    Walk into any of Mr. Woolworth’s red front stores and you will be patronizing, indirectly, the Waller Franklin Seed Company. From a most humble beginning of occupying a building measuring 18 by 25 feet, L.D. Waller and Dr. J.H. Franklin have built up the largest flower seed growing business in the world.

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