Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Patricia Stemler Wiley Rose collection
Collection number: MS 139
Wiley, Patricia S.
3 boxes, 2 flats
University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library.
Special Collections and Archives
Santa Cruz, California 95064
Abstract: This collection contains materials from Roses of Yesterday and Today, formerly known as Lester Rose Gardens, in Watsonville,
Calif. Includes scrapbooks & albums, business papers, artwork, miscellaneous publications, and photographs and catalog run.
Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection open for research.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and
their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Patricia Stemler Wiley Rose collection. MS 139. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of
California, Santa Cruz.
Gift of Patricia Stemler Wiley.
The history of the world famous rose growing, breeding and shipping enterprise, Roses of Yesterday and Today, of Browns Valley
Road, Watsonville, is represented in their catalogs. The format and content of the catalog has remained fairly consistent
since the earliest versions were produced by Will Tillotson in the 1940's. Each issue began with a friendly essay written
either by Mr. Tillotson ("CW" or Catalog Writer), Dorothy Stemler (known in the early catalogs as "Honorable Secretary"),
or Patricia Stemler Wiley (Dorothy's daughter and the donor of the collection). The body of the catalog is an annotated list
of the roses available in that year, each precisely and gracefully described. The catalogs are handsomely designed and attractively
illustrated, the older years reflecting Dorothy's love of art and her skill as a photographer, the more recent issues continuing
this tradition of graphic excellence with the work of Pat and her husband Jack. The charm of the catalogs lies in the care
invested them; their design and production resemble that of a well-tended garden; they are literally "anthologies" (originally
flower collections) of images, annotations, verses, and essays whichwhen read in sequence provide us with an engaging history
of the firm. When Francis Lester, pioneer rosarian and author of
My Friend the Rose, planted rose gardens among the redwoods in Browns Valley in 1937, he also began "a tradition of attractive, chatty catalogues
calculated to infect their readers with Lester's love of the subject. These informative, readable booklets have been the old
roses' most effective propagandist -- under Lester's successor, Will Tillotson, this catalogue ... inspired ...the founders
of the Heritage Roses Group. (Thomas Christopher, In Search of Lost Roses, (New York, 1989) p.156).
Francis Lester died in 1945. The 1952 catalog conveys the playful relationship among the hardworking rose growers of Browns
Valley: "Let it be admitted forthwith, all quips, quirks, effusions, omissions and errors within are the sole responsibility
of Will Tillotson. Mrs. Lester looks with considerable doubt and some alarm on the literary antics of the catalog-writer."
A decade later, the garden Lester established, known as the Marjorie Lester Gardens was swept away in the flood of December
1955. The poignant "ANNOUNCEMENT" of this disaster, written by Marjorie and Byron Quayle, her 2nd husband and partner, is
one of the few business papers to survive the flood.
The 1959 catalog has the following introduction: "'You'll be doing this some day' often commented the Catalog-Writer to Honorable
Secretary, as he sorted his 'sack of adjectives' preparing another edition of
Roses of Yesterday and Today. In leaving the old and rare roses in my care, he wrote in his Last Will and Testament ...'I would like to be remembered
occasionally by mention in her catalogs -- and give her anything which I may transfer in style or content of those I have
written for many years." "Remembered? [the italics are Honorable Secretary's (Dorothy Stemler's) own] "....Roses of Yesterday
and Today is Will Tillotson." Will Tillotson (CW) had died in England in 1957, while, of course, on a rose buying trip.
As we peruse Honorable Secretary's catalogs and those of her daughter, it is easy to conclude that for twenty years, Roses
of Yesterday and Today was Dorothy Stemler, and then, until 1997, Roses of Yesterday and Today was Patricia Stemler Wiley.
The UCSC Library is honored to provide a home for their catalogs, evocative relics of local industry and creativity.
Scope and Content of Collection
This collection contains materials from Roses of Yesterday and Today, formerly known as Lester Rose Gardens, in Watsonville,
Calif. Included are albums, scrapbooks, miscellaneous publications, photographs and catalog collection.
The research books have been cataloged separately and are available through UCSC's online catalog.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Wiley, Patricia Stemler--Archives
Lester Rose Gardens
Roses of Yesterday and Today
Rose culture--California--Watsonville Region
Rose breeders--California--Watsonville Region
Lester, Francis Edward, 1868-
- The "Little Rose Library" (approx. 121 titles) has been cataloged separately and is available through UCSC's online catalog.
- VT 5040 - Roses of yesterday and today [videorecording] : 1996