|Birth: ||Nov. 8, 1857|
San Francisco County
|Death: ||Mar. 24, 1940|
San Diego County
San Diego Horticulturist who came to be called the "Mother of Balboa Park"
Katherine Olivia Sessions was born on Nob Hill in San Francisco November 8,
1857. After graduation from high school in Oakland, she spent two months
traveling with family friends in the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii). After a
brief time in business college, she entered the University of California at
Berkeley in 1877, where she studied science and graduated in 1881. Her essay for
graduation was entitled "The Natural Sciences as a Field for Women's Labor".
Miss Sessions' horticultural career began after teaching 8th grade briefly at
Russ School (now SD High) in San Diego where she accepted a position in 1884.
She accepted a teaching position in San Gabriel, but returned to San Diego after
a short time there. In 1885, she joined her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Solon
Blaisdell, as partner in a new venture -- the purchase of the San Diego Nursery.
As owner of a flower shop and a succession of nurseries in Coronado, City Park,
Mission Hills and Pacific Beach, she became a central figure in California and
national horticultural circles with her landscaping, plant introductions, and
She published articles in newspapers and in California Garden, the publication
of the San Diego Floral Association, which Miss Sessions helped to found in
1906. Appointed supervisor of agriculture and landscaper for the city schools in
1915, she taught horticulture and botany to the schoolchildren and supervised
their school gardens traveling from one school to another during the year.
Kate Sessions' correspondence with leaders in the field of horticulture kept her
current with new discoveries and spread her knowledge and reputation. Her work
in plant introduction won for her international recognition and, in 1939, she
was awarded the prestigious Frank N. Meyer medal of the American Genetic
Association. She was the first woman to receive the award.
It is in Balboa Park that the legacy of Kate Sessions is most obvious. She
leased land in what was then called "City Park" in 1892 for a nursery. For this
privilege, she was to plant one hundred trees a year in the park and furnish
three hundred more for planting throughout the city. In 1902 she was
instrumental in the formation of the park Improvement Committee with her friends
George Marston and Mary B. Coulston. Their work resulted in assuring the park's
place in the life of the community.
Kate Sessions died March 24, 1940. She has come to be called the "Mother of
Balboa Park" and a bronze statue of her was erected there in 1998.
Josiah Sessions (1826 - 1903)
Harriet S. Parker Sessions (1829 - 1895)
Katherine Olivia Sessions (1857 - 1940)
Frank Shattuch Sessions (1864 - 1931)*
Mount Hope Cemetery
San Diego County
Plot: Division 5
Created by: Linda
Record added: Aug 23, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 75383463