James Edward Barlup

1933 ~ 2020 (age 87)


Jim Barlup quietly passed away on October 25, 2020 just five months after being diagnosed with cancer. He was comfortable under Hospice Care at Judson Park, the retirement community in Des Moines WA where Jim and his wife, Judy, lived for the past 14 months. To know Jim was to love him. A modest, gentle and kind soul, Jim had the heart of an artist (romantic, imaginative, creative) and the mind of a scientist (organized, precise, systematic). He was known for his integrity, patience, humility and generosity.

Jim was born on September 13, 1933 in Carthage Mo. He spent his pre-teen years on the Barlup’s 1,250-acre wheat ranch. After the war the Barlups returned to their home state and purchased a 135-acre dairy farm just outside of Gettysburg, PA. It was there that Jim met Judy Cassel, the love of his life and his wife of 67 years. They eloped and moved into the tenant house on the farm until he was drafted into the US Army. After that, he earned a BFA degree at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. For the next 15 years he excelled as a commercial photographer, a color technician (he set up the color lab for Curtis Publishing Company) and as a black and white technician. His work was shown in International art exhibits. Jim joined the Beach Boys on stage during their first US concert where he shot the photos for their debut album.

Soon after they settled down in the Pacific Northwest, both Jim and Judy became passionate with the out-of-doors: camping, back-packing, mountain climbing, domestic and international traveling, and gardening. There wasn’t time to do it all, so Jim took a break from his job in order to climb more mountains and to landscape his garden. Little did he know that this would bring him international fame.

During many hours of photographing plants in the University of Washington Arboretum, Jim was drawn into the world of rhododendron. His search for orange and coral rhododendron for his garden was futile. When told that they virtually did not exist, Jim figured he’d have to create them himself through cross-pollination - and so he did! In the process, he created hundreds of rhododendrons of many beautiful colors.

In 1978 Jim and Judy moved to Bellevue where he transformed their ¾ acre garden into his hybridizing laboratory where he learned “surprise happens”. Over the next 44 years, Jim combined his expertise with photography and hybridizing rhododendron. His accomplishments include registering the names of more than 250 rhododendrons with the Royal Horticulture Society of Great Britain, becoming a popular seminar speaker, authoring articles in the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society, receiving two of the highest awards the ARS offers (Gold Medal and the Pioneer Achievement Award). Jim’s plants are on display in public gardens and commercial nurseries. To view Jim’s photographs of some of his registered rhododendrons, please visit the following website:

A special tribute to Jim is a newly established garden, the Jim Barlup Rhododendron Garden, in Esquimalt Gorge Park, Victoria, B.C. It contains many rhododendrons he gifted to the Victoria Rhododendron Society, which has been supportive of Jim’s work over the years.

We hope that Jim knows how much he is loved and admired.

We invite you to add comments and photos to his Tribute Wall, located above.

In lieu of flowers, if you wish to make a donation, please consider your local Hospice.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Edward Barlup, please visit our floral store.


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