The Great Lady of Horticulture – Charlotte Hawk
By Molly Dwyer
Charlotte Hawk grew up in 1874 on the farm of the former Pimo leader on the farmland of the Compche region – born in 1874 in the Compche forest – the name of the region.
Compche is actually a word for “valley between the hills.” On the way to the beach, Pomo travels every summer, and the Compche-Ukiya road is the old train road.
Certainly, Charlotte must have seen her as a child and may have been part of why she loved the natural world. She likes to say she was born with two green thumbs. Both parents loved to grow plants and on her birthday her father planted seven red trees. Charlotte called her “Birthday Grove,” and the trees still stand today.
Her interest in farming was five years old. Charlotte was fascinated by herbal life in California and spent most of his life teaching and writing about the state’s native plants.
In 1896, at the age of 22, Charlotte enrolled at the University of Berkeley, California. She studied English; Herbs were small. She received her degree in 1900 and returned to Berkeley for her master’s degree after two years of study. Her research was in the Migdino County Pygmy Forest, which eventually helped save her.
Located just a few miles below the surface, the Pygmy Forest extends 30 miles south of Fort Bragg. Once known as Mendosino Barens, the land produces deciduous cypress, bishop pine and beach pine – some up to nine or ten inches high. In this small world, hacker berries, ferns, rhododendrons, flowers, and various evergreen shrubs come into play.
Her interest in Charlotte Forest led her to work as a gardener at the California Garden Club. A.D. In 1950, the club purchased some forest land and began to encourage the state of California Park System. Charlotte wrote extensively about Pygmy, and the club went to great lengths to raise funds.
It took about 18 years, but in September 1969 the farm near Van Dam State Park was designated as Charlotte M. Hawke’s Pygmy Forest.
After buying a home in South Pasadena, Charlotte moved to Southern California in 1906. She spent 25 years teaching agriculture and gardening in elementary schools in Los Angeles, and her writing was a world-renowned columnist for Pasadena. Her many accomplishments include her acquisition of Addis Ababa in the Southern California Mountains and her enduring love for Begonia – her outstanding contribution to the award, including the Kenworthy Gray Plaque. Friends include the famous naturalist John Moore.
Charlotte Hawk is one of Mendosino’s heroes. At the age of 93, she was named Miss Horticulture 1958. She was a “American gardener” runner.
To learn more about Charlotte or other celebrities, visit the Kelly House Museum and discover the rich roots of this unique city.