The Original Gardens were designed by the famous gardening Kate Sessions, also a famous San Diego character

July 24, 2022

San Diego is known for its beautiful gardens, parks and landscapes, and a major contributor to this beauty is the work of the famous gardening genius of the city, Kate Sessions. A renowned gardening expert, Sessions was also a beloved personality in San Diego.

In the late 19th century when the population of San Diego began to grow rapidly, Kate Sessions saw an opportunity to expand the city’s landscape by creating beautiful gardens. She worked closely with landscape architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design several public parks and gardens throughout the city. Her most renowned contributions are Balboa Park and her original garden in Mission Hills.

The stunning beauty of Balboa Park is especially attributed to Sessions’ work; she introduced many rare and unusual trees and plants from other parts of the world that had never been seen before in California. These diverse natural beauty spots are now iconic features of San Diego’s landscape. The original garden Sessions designed showcases different species of plants carefully arranged according to their heights, colors, and textures.

Sessions was not only a gardening expert; she also worked tirelessly as an environmentalist to help protect wildlands in California. Even after her death in 1940, her legacy lives on in the many public gardens she established throughout San Diego. These gardens and parks serve as testament to her remarkable contribution to the city’s landscapes, as well as her love for nature.

When admiring one of San Diego’s public parks or gardens, we can thank Kate Sessions for designing these beauties. As an even larger legacy, we must honor her commitment to protecting wildlands by working together now to conserve our fragile environment for future generations.

It’s hard to believe that San Diego has been home to many famous people throughout its history. One of the most iconic figures in San Diego’s history is Kate Sessions, often referred to as the “Father of Balboa Park.” More than a century ago, Ms. Sessions became San Diego’s first professional gardener and began her career by designing a number of the original gardens in Balboa Park.

Before Sessions started on the scene, and for many years afterwards, Balboa Park was nothing more than open space that had been reserved for park use in 1868. But, then Kate Sessions took over and all of that changed. She helped transform the park into the lush, green paradise it is today, complete with exotic botanicals from around the world.

Sessions was responsible for over 200 species of plants being introduced to San Diego during her 35-year run as a professional gardener. She is credited with introducing avocados, eucalyptus trees, pineapples and oleanders. Sessions also developed what is still known today as the Kate Sessions Memorial Rose Garden in Balboa Park which can accommodate up to 40 different varieties of roses at any given time.

Kate Sessions’ dedication to improving the parks of San Diego didn’t go unnoticed by local officials or residents. She was one of the first female business owners in San Diego, and her work caught the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt who visited the park in 1903.

Sessions worked tirelessly in her gardening efforts until she passed away on December 14th, 1940. Today, her contributions to Balboa Park provide visitors with an experience that has been enjoyed for generations! Her legacy lives on through countless private gardens throughout California and beyond, but making Balboa Park bloom with new life is truly a testament to this San Diego character’s years of hard work and dedication.