In this third edition dedicated to our green, American, pioneer heroines, Kate Sessions poses next to an aloe vera plant in the California desert. Where she grew a garden.
Kate Sessions was born in San Diego, California, in 1857. In 1837, Giacomo Leopardi died in Naples. In a canto he had written about a distant, possible paradise. A place across the Atlantic “among the vast Californian forests.”
We can see that Leopardi never went to California. He’d have written about a desert rather than a forest. Even though a few years later, in San Diego, Kate Sessions would (unconsciously) bring Leopardi’s romantic (and European) dream to life.
A GARDEN RATHER THAN A DESERT
A “California forest”, then? No. A garden: Balboa Park. Which Kate tended like a loving mother, as the oldest trees in this public park remind us. She was the one who had planted them, from the first to the last. And today they serve as a celebratory monument.
But does she need that, our Kate? She never married, but worked tirelessly for the greenery of her city, and within its surrounding desert environs. They say she was trying to “mirror heaven.” With new and local plants alike.
Does this story ring a bell? From Borgo Pinti to San Diego there are plenty of plants. But those who decide to turn them into a space open to everyone share the same mission. Technology has changed (automatic systems in the Orti) and the spirit has too (romantic, in Kate’s case).
But one thing hasn’t changed. There’s a photo of our heroine posing next to a giant aloe vera. Kate opted to squeeze herself right to the edge of the frame. The plant is her co-star. How do you think our Giacomo would choose to be portrayed?