Memorial for Jim Wright


It saddens me deeply to tell you of the passing of a dear friend of mine and the Palm Society, Jim Wright. Jim was one of the original members of the PSSC and the IPS. He started collecting palms and planting out his garden in the Bay Park area of San Diego in the early 1960's. His garden has been on tour many times for the enjoyment of Palm Society members. He has written many articles for Society publications and was an excellent grower of rare palm species. He propagated many plants himself. He was a true friend of many. Known for his hospitality and friendly nature, Jim

welcomed total strangers to tour his garden. His garden, although not huge, was one of the most cherished palm gardens in our area. His now deceased wife, Lise, and Jim spent countless time over many decades developing the garden and making it a real showpiece of gardening excellence. The garden was photographed and featured in many national

magazines over the years. 


Jim, with his wife Suzan at the time, bought his home and property in 1963. It had no landscaping at the time. For some

unknown reason he developed a passion for palm trees and tropical plants. Soon after moving into his new home, he started collecting rare palms from anywhere he could find them. He became friends with Ed Moore of San Diego and Rudy Lasaga, both of whom have since passed away. He made friends with many pioneering and original palm

enthusiasts in Southern California and, species by species, added more exotic palms to his garden. 


He raised three children in his home. In the approximate mid 1970's he married Lise, who shared his passion for the

plants. This passion led them to purchasing the house next door to the south and expanding their garden. Not only did they grow palms, but both also had a passion for other tropical plants including bromeliads, roses and orchids. Jim was famous for mounting epiphytes on the trunks of overhead palms. And, he meticulously maintained the garden. It didn't

matter when you dropped by, the garden was always beautiful and ready to show. Jim was always hospital to even people he didn’t know, offering them a tour and information on palm trees. 


Because of his broad interest in many types of plants, not only was Jim a member of the Palm Society, he was also deeply involved with the Bromeliad and Orchid Societies and had literally hundreds of friends throughout the plant communities in the San Diego area. He had a vast knowledge about plants that he was always willing to share with others. He was very generous with his time and energy when it came to plant matters. He was always a friend to all.


Jim was the one who originally got me involved with palms. I met him in the very early 1970's while I was in medical school. We did research together at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. We later traveled to Antarctica. This was followed by trips to Central America and many other exotic locations. From the beginning, Jim told me "you've got to try some palm trees". I did listen and thereafter developed my keen interest in palms. But, he was the impetus that got me involved from the beginning. I have always felt indebted to Jim for this and thank him for his time and energy in getting me into palm trees. It's a great loss for me to know he's no longer there to chat over the phone about plants, weather or whatever. I could tell countless stories about Jim but that'll have to wait for another day.


Phil Bergman