About Mission Hills Nursery

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Favorite Narratives of Mission HIlls Nursery's Journey

Toni’s Customer Encounter:
One of my first customers wanted to order a tree, when I asked him how large of a tree he wanted he told me “I don’t buy green bananas” I questioned him and he explained “I don’t have time to wait for bananas to turn yellow and I don’t have time for a tree to grow so I want a big one”

Palafox Family:
When we first bought the nursery in 1989 our kids were 10 and 8 years old. To them this was a big playground, they would run up and down the ramps, climb onto the bags of soil and hide amongst the trees. As they grew up we had them working odd jobs around the nursery to learn what mom and dad did every day to provide for our family. Our daughter Kristi worked for a time during her school days then moved on in a different career path. Our son Tiger wasn’t interested in the nursery which was fine, we wanted them to each find their own passion. Tiger went away for college and had to find a part time job. Imagine our smile when he called to say he got a job at a garden center, and received high reviews from him boss. When Tiger came back from college he returned to working with us and today is in charge of the maintenance division, overseeing multiple crews which service residential and commercial properties.

We now have the next generation running and jumping, hiding and “helping” out. We wonder which if any will continue in the business as they grow up. With the oldest being 10 and the youngest 6 we have a few years before we will actually know. Until then it is wonderful to share our bit of paradise in the city with our family.

32 Years

Our Story

Mother of Balboa Park (City Park)
In 1892 Sessions struck a deal with the City of San Diego to lease 30 acres (120,000 m2) of land in Balboa Park (then called City Park) as her growing fields. In return, she agreed to plant 100 trees a year in the mostly barren park, as well as 300 trees a year in other parts of San Diego.  This arrangement left the park with an array of cypress, pine, oak, pepper trees and eucalyptus grown in her gardens from seeds imported from around the world; virtually all of the older trees still seen in the park were planted by her.

The Mission Hills Nursery, which she founded in 1910 and sold to her employees the Antonicelli brothers in 1926, is still in operation to this day. Now owned and operated by the Palafox Family since 1989.

Kate O. Sessions

Kate O. Sessions 11/8/1857 – 3/24/1940

The Palafox Family

mission hills nursery - owners

Fausto Palafox and Family purchase San Diego’s oldest nursery and garden center, Mission Hills Nursery, April 1989.

organic gardening - mission hills nursery

Toni and Fausto Palafox, realize their dream.

eco friendly gardening - mission hills nursery

Tiger and Isaac the new generation

Mission Hills Nursery San Diego’s oldest garden center was founded in the early 1900’s by the legendary Kate O. Sessions. This piece of history was purchased by Fausto Palafox and family. Fausto had been an employee of Nurseryland Garden Centers always having a dream of being a business owner and forging his own path in the garden center business. Fausto’s employment history extends 25 years with Nurseryland Garden Centers as a stock boy and rising through various management positions ultimately as Director of Operations, overseeing 37 stores in California and Arizona.

Guiding Mission Hills Nursery from a neighborhood nursery to a top player in the garden beauty business in all of San Diego County, adding a landscape maintenance service and landscape design and installation service have allowed the Palafox Family to thrive in this very competitive business. Mission Hills Nursery is poised to thrive in the next century with owners very involved in the day to day operations. Son Fausto “Tiger” Palafox heads the Maintenance and Landscape Operations. And a new generation is coming up fast.