Flora Rosa Sandoz, named by her older sister Marie (Mari), was born May 12, 1906, to parents Jules and Mary Sandoz. She was born on the Old River Place south of Hay Springs, NE, but would spend much of her life on the Sandhill Ranch south of Gordon.
In the fall of 1929, she enrolled in the Botany program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In three years she finished her degree and returned to her home. Unfortunately, due to the Great Depression there were few jobs available. In 1934, she married a musician by the name of Boris Kicken. They worked very hard on the family’s Sandhills homestead, taking care of the cattle as well as the orchards. Their marriage, however, did not end well. Flora continued to tend to her cattle and fruit trees, and those trees left by her father.
Flora voraciously read all horticultural publications. She experimented on varieties of fruit trees, especially apple trees, and kept accurate records of her harvests and of annual rainfall. Flora was also noted for taking pictures of wildflowers, which she showed to local clubs.
The Sandoz Center features an interactive, touch-screen kiosk devoted to Flora Sandoz. It features commentary by Flora on the wildflowers that she collected around her home as well as her photographs of her plants. The exhibit highlights Flora’s vast botanical knowledge and provides valuable insight into her personality.
This exhibit can be found in the Carmen and John Gottschalk - Mari Sandoz Gallery, located on the Main floor of the Sandoz Center. For more information about Flora Sandoz and the botanical history of the region, please visit the Chadron State College Herbarium.