Kate Sessions graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1881 with adegree in chemistry. In 1883 she moved to San Diego and began teaching. Pursuing her interest in horticulture, in 1885 she opened a nursery and flower shop. In 1892 she leased thirty acres of underdeveloped land from San Diego’s City Park. The terms of the lease required Session to plant 100 trees in the park each year and to plant an additional 300 trees throughout the city.
|Statue of Sessions in Balboa Park|
Session introduced new varieties of plants to the park and the city and to the horticultural trade in general. She beautified the city with colorful and drought-resistant plants from all over the world, such as poinsettia, bird of paradise, Italian cypress, twisted juniper, banyan, and bougainvillea, to name just a few. Her work helped craft the character of the city and plant the seeds (so to speak) of what would become the city’s centerpiece, Balboa Park.
Sessions earned a national reputation as a leading horticulturalist and landscaper. In 1939 she became the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources in recognition of “her outstanding contributions to the horticulture of her native state.”
|Alcazar Garden, Balboa Park|