Kate Sessions (1857-1940) opened her retail nursery in San Diego at a time when few women-owned businesses (it continues to be in operation today as Mission Hills Nursery owned by the Palafox family).

kate sessions
Kate Sessions

Known as the "mother of Balboa Park," she played a key role in the landscaping of the 1,400-acre park as a result of her leasing 30 acres of land from the city of San Diego.

She agreed to plant 100 trees in the park each year and to plant 300 trees throughout San Diego. As a result, she introduced the many trees such as the beautiful Jacaranda mimosifolia to San Diego. Ahead of her time, she also advocated planting natives and drought-tolerant plants such as the California poppy, Matilija poppy, bird of paradise, Italian cypress and bougainvillea. Among her many accolades, she was the first woman awarded the 1939 American Genetic Association’s Frank N. Meyer Medal for her service in flower and plant introduction.

Honoring Kate Sessions