Last year the EDA received an additional donation of materials from the family of Willa Cloys Carmack. We are excited to announce that this material will begin to be processed in January 2020 and will be available to researchers by the end of the spring semester! These materials, which include correspondence, photographs, plant lists, reference files, and travel paraphernalia, will greatly enhance the collection and provide greater insight into the career of Willa Cloys Carmack.
Willa Clair Cloys Carmack (1889-1968) was one of the first women to graduate with a degree in Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley, which at that time was part of the Department of Agriculture under the direction of Professor John Gregg. After graduating with her degree in 1916, she is listed in the Berkeley City Directory, in 1917, as a Landscape Architect.
Willa Cloys was an only child, born November 1, 1889, in the Midwest. Her father, Edward H. Cloys was a building contractor and the family moved to California around the late nineteen-teens. By 1925, Willa married Robert M. Carmack, and based on the 1930 census they had two children, John and Sarah. [i] Throughout her career, which spanned more than thirty years, she secured several large estate commissions in and around Hillsborough, schools in San Leandro, the San Jose Women's Club, city parks in Petaluma, and a subdivision called Felton Gables in Menlo Park, among others. During the Depression, Cloys taught landscape design at the California School of Gardening, a school started by and for women in Hayward in 1926 and lectured at California garden clubs. She was also a founding member of the California Horticultural Society.
Some of her notable projects include Villa Delizia garden, the garden for the Lachman Estate, and the San Jose Women’s Club. Her collection is of great importance, as she was an early proponent of the use of native plants in California gardens and an active part of a network of women working to influence how we garden in California today.
[i] Biography of Willa Cloys Carmack by April Halberstadt, May 2007