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Waiting to hear the result...

Bill announces the award

"What, me!?"

Barbara Worl was born in Indiana on February 27, 1927 and moved to California to attend Stanford University in the early 1940s. She graduated from Stanford with a major in English history and a minor in English literature. Upon graduation Barbara began working at Bell's Bookstore in Palo Alto and remained an employee for over fifty-five years. Barbara participated in the first San Francisco Flower and Garden Show for Bell's Bookstore, exhibiting her exquisite arrangements and continued that endeavor for nine years.

On February 8th, 1971 she attended the WHS general meeting, at which time she signed our Guest Book. This ranks her among the early day attendees and made her an pioneer gardening enthusiast among the members of WHS. These days we all know it became one of her passions.

It is essential to have a vast knowledge of the plant world and to keep meticulous notes in order to identify the flowers and plants one comes across. Barbara acquired a lot of this knowledge through being a book buyer for Bell's Books. No one would have to guess her specialty there and, of course, the gardening book section blossomed. People from all over the world sought her books after learning of her reputation for gathering one-of-a-kind, out-of-print, special editions and collector materials.


Many of us have visited her gardens over the years and have been transported with the joy of her abundant and beautiful landscaping. Her present garden in Menlo Park has been featured in Peter Beale's book Visions of RosesHer garden is filled with rose arbors, fragrant perennial borders, fruit trees, pots filled with a myriad of blossoms and greenery everywhere. Barbara has rescued, propagated and shared these joys at every opportunity.

Photography became another love... she began traveling for Bell's Bookstore seeking materials for the shop, taking photos of the many magnificent gardens wherever she traveled. She went to France and became acquainted with renowned members of that horticultural area. She traveled throughout England, Germany, New Zealand and Australia and did the same there and in many other lovely places and spaces. She entered private gardens where rarely had an ordinary traveler trod. Gates were left unlocked so that she could enter at an early or late hour to take photos. A good photographer knows that early morning and the sunset hours are especially appealing, the light can be so dramatic at those times and Barbara came away with some lovely,
dramatic shots.

She became an international figure in the horticultural world, making fast friends and corresponding with them through the years. In order to share her photos she came up with the idea of producing her photos on note cards and calendars so she set up a self-publishing business. She installed her printing press right at home and commenced turning out her cards and calendars and producing a small catalogue, all of which soon became sought after treasures. The name of Sweetbriar Press came to her after falling in love with roses, particularly historic or heritage roses. Barbara Worl has the distinction of having a lovely rose, a shapely satiny pink, named after her.

Faith Bell says that what makes Barbara's achievements most astonishing is that she accomplished so much - publishing, writing, lecturing, promoting old roses, her book buying and selling, her photography and still found time to create and maintain two exceptional gardens for twenty years. And all through those blissful years, Barbara attended Western Horticultural Society meetings usually with several species of unusual plants she had growing in her gardens to "show and tell" during our plant discussion sessions.

She served on the WHS Board, chaired various committees and activities and today continues to share her knowledge and enthusiasm. It is for all these efforts we applaud her and wish to express our profound gratitude for the steadfast, devoted efforts all through these many years as a member of Western Horticultural Society.

Read Demetra Bowles' profile on Barbara Worl featured in the July 2007 issue of Pacific Horticulture.

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