The greatest satisfaction in my disordered life has come from my contact with Nature.

—Ruth Baird Larabee, age 56, in Puebla, Mexico, c1955

Sowing Seeds of Wonder, published in 2016, is the true story of Ruth and Charles Larabee, who originated San Diego Botanic Garden, in Encinitas, California. Their lives were filled with wonder and adventure, love and loss, courage, heartbreak, and tragedy, all grounded in their connections to the outdoors.  Read more, and order here …

Unlike many movers and shakers in San Diego’s history, the Larabees have the distinction of being largely unknown. Even in San Diego’s North County where the celebrated 37-acre botanic garden they originated in the 1940s and 50s is located, few people know who they were.

Sally Sandler has rescued them from relative obscurity and given them their rightful place in history. After more than five years of research, she has brought to light the journey that carried them in 1943 from urban life in Kansas City to a modest ranch on a hillside in Encinitas, California. She explores their combined and individual creative gifts, their commitment to younger generations and the impact of their generosity. And she reveals the complex and difficult circumstances that followed their lives at “El Rancho San Ysidro de las Flores.”

Including a Foreword by Julian Duval, President/CEO of San Diego Botanic Garden, and an Afterword by Dave Ehrlinger, Director of Horticulture, 2002 to 2013.

Available in paperback and on Kindle at

Turning real people into legends is one thing, but turning legends into real people is so much better.

—Steve Brigham, former Foundation Board Member at San Diego Botanic Garden, founder of Buena Creek Gardens, and author, Ornamental Trees of San Diego and Ornamental Trees for Mediterranean Climates.