The Jim Barlup Legacy Garden
The Barlup Legacy Garden at Esquimalt Gorge Park began in 2003, with the purchase of five year-old cuttings at an ARS Convention in Olympia, WA. These were purchased only because of their interesting names. WINDSONG, LIGHT YEARS, PALOUSE, LOON’S CALL AND WINDRIVER. It was to be a long journey that would lead to the Victoria Rhododendron Society establishing the Legacy Garden in Esquimalt Gorge Park. Little did we know that these tiny plants were created by one man.
In 2011, the ARS Convention was held in Seattle WA. By that time we were well-aware of the hybridizer of these plants, as in 2004, he was awarded the ARS Gold Medal for his outstanding contribution to the world of rhododendron hybridizing. Four members of our chapter visited this man’s garden after the convention. After introducing ourselves and sharing the story of how our chapter was collecting his plants, an immediate friendship occurred. He realized that we were serious collectors of his hybrids as they were available only in the United States.
In 2011, after returning from an overseas vacation, this man suffered a stroke. Part of his recovery was to have oral and written communication with friends. Thus began a friendship of communication, leading to visits to his garden by many members of our chapter. During these years, we received cuttings, small plants, and seed, leading to the conclusion that the Victoria Rhododendron Society was the place to purchase these special plants. As this friendship continued, we nominated and received the news that he was awarded the highest of honors by the ARS. In 2018, Jim Barlup was awarded the Pioneer Achievement Award. He was the 13th person to achieve this award in 70+ years of the ARS being a world- wide organization.
In 2019, the Barlup’s moved to a retirement community. As a lasting gift of our friendship, Jim left all his remaining materials to the Victoria Rhododendron Society. One of our members approached the Township of Esquimalt, asking if they would be interested in establishing a garden within the grounds of Esquimalt Gorge Park. The answer was a resounding YES! This was the beginning of what is now known as the Jim Barlup Legacy Garden.