The Foundation

Professor John W. Gregg established the Division of Landscape Gardening and Floriculture in 1913 within Berkeley’s College of Agriculture. The College of Agriculture was home to the new program partly due to the land-grant college tradition that landscape gardening and floriculture be included in agriculture programs.  Gregg received degrees in art and landscape architecture from both the Massachusetts Agricultural College and Boston University in 1904. In addition to founding the program, he served as chair of the landscape architecture Department from 1913-1947, frequently consulting on the landscape development of the Berkeley campus.

The establishment of the Division under Gregg’s direction apparently “ruffled the feathers” of John Galen Howard, who had wanted to establish a landscape architecture program within the Department of Architecture. Despite Gregg’s interest in pushing the curriculum toward design and calling it “landscape architecture,” Howard refused to engage with the program. As a result, the program’s initial curriculum was strongly oriented toward horticulture and limited in design coursework, although the early program offered courses in “civic design,” thus implementing a tradition of city planning at Berkeley.

Facilities for the new program consisted of rooms in Agriculture Hall (now Wellman Hall) and two small greenhouses in the area east of Giannini Hall which provided space for drafting, instruction in plant propagation and culture, and the study of plant materials.

The first person Gregg hired was Katherine D. Jones whose wide knowledge of exotic flora and regional plants and climate would be important to the program. Initially, Jones team-taught the courses on plant materials but soon began teaching the classes herself. Her peers held her teaching in such high regard that at Harvard, students who had passed Jones’ classes at Berkeley satisfactorily would require no further examination for entrance to the Plant Material classes there.

Harry W. Shepherd, a student at Cal prior to the formal establishment of the program, was the first graduate receiving his BS in Landscape Engineering and Planning in 1914. He began his university teaching career at the University of California, Davis, working as an instructor in the Division of Landscape Design (1922-1925), then came to Berkeley, where he taught until his retirement in 1955.[1]

[1] Much of the content for this exhibit comes fromLandscape at Berkeley: The First 100 Years, ed. Waverly B. Lowell, Carrie L. McDade, and Elizabeth D. Byrne (Berkeley, CA: College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley, 2013).

The Foundation