voiceofsandiego.org: People... Keeping an Urban Forest, and Resurrecting Trampled Flowerbeds Besides
Sunday, May 31, 2009 | In 1892, a dauntless woman named Kate Sessions convinced the city of San Diego to lease her 30 acres in old City Park for her thriving nursery business. In exchange, she'd plant 100 trees a year there and grow 300 more for the rest of the city. Those were the roots of Balboa Park; Sessions is considered the mother of the regional icon.
In 2009, horticulturist Crystal Ritchie drives a white city truck through the park, monitoring the thousands of trees, plants and shrubs in her purview. Immersed in the park's plant life, Ritchie seems to sense -- even more than she sees -- the places in a given radius where the current flora could be replaced with more drought-resistant plants. A dying tree presents an opportunity: what should we plant next?
It's a question shared in dry days across the San Diego region.
"We're all owning up to our climate -- we've been in what I think they call 'zonal denial,'" she says.