Horticultural Heritage

| March 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

You can tell that spring is happening this month by the sheer number of garden events around town. It is hard for a plant enthusiast to choose what goes on the calendar when there is so much going on. This phenomenon is due in large part to Kate Sessions and her setting the tone for our horticultural mission in San Diego.

Growing up here, I was infected early with admiration for her leadership and accomplishments. So, it is no mistake that I ended up volunteering for the last 20 years to add a collection of plants to the park. Since I have “lived and breathed” the installation and maintenance of the “Trees for Health Arboretum” for so long, I often forget that others only see a mass of greenery and some nice walking trails. Despite the trail guide that is usually available at the kiosk, most visitors have no entry point to understand why this collection of healing plants is included in the Kate Sessions walk along the west mesa sidewalk.

Certainly, the “Trees for Health Arboretum” is consistent with the Kate Sessions inspiration to show the diversity of international plants that can be grown in the San Diego area. And it lies close to the area of her early nursery, near the historic home of her friends and mentors, the Marston family.

From 11 a.m. to late afternoon on Saturday, April 25 as part of the Centennial celebration, we will provide free informational tours. Each tour will be 20-30 minutes long. Brochures and project volunteers will be available to explain our project.

Being part of the Balboa Park community, we “play well with others” and have planned the start of our event late enough to allow the early morning “Walk for Babies” to finish up their event. This means it will be 11 a.m. before we can gain access to Balboa Drive for our visitors to arrive.

A new interpretative sign series introduces people to a perspective on learning about the healing functions of plants.

A new interpretative sign series introduces people to a perspective on learning about the healing functions of plants.

If the road is still closed when you get there, park on Sixth Avenue and walk in following the sidewalk south on Balboa Drive almost to Quince Street. You will find information tables with organizations that offer education and workshops about healing plants, their traditions and uses. Join one of the tours.

We will showcase our new interpretative sign series that introduces people to a perspective on learning about the healing functions of plants by noting the flavor or taste. Our guides will explain the concept and show you examples of plants with the flavors. Later, you can return and review the signs at your leisure. This is the first of several series that will offer insight into our human connection and interrelationship with the plants and trees.

One of the future sign series will explain how the seasons affect the rhythm of plant growth. This will be in the north meadow, so take a peek at the development of our latest addition, a compass that you can walk in and where you will be able to notice the changing angle of the sun as it moves through the seasons. For now, it will be planted to native plants and butterfly weed (Asclepia tuberosa) to offer a home to Monarch butterflies.

The eventual transition will be to plant coastal live oaks in each sector of the compass so that future generations to come can enjoy a stroll in a shady grove. Coastal oaks take fifty to a hundred years to reach any appreciable size, so this is a very long range plan; don’t look for shade there any time soon.

You are invited to join us in continuing the legacy of Kate Sessions, and finding meaning for yourself in knowing something about the plants. Get us on your calendar before something else distracts you: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 25, depending upon demand for the tours.

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