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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Barbara Raub: Plant Lover, Artist, and More

By Karen Krugman.

“Each of life’s seasons brings new opportunities to get involved and serve others.”

This statement pretty much sums up Barbara Raub. Artist, plant lover, wanna-be horticulturist, volunteer, mother, grandmother and wife are just a few of the many hats she wears.

Have you ever wondered where the artists for the SDHS Spring Garden Tour come from? They do not just sprout like toadstools after a rain…they are handpicked by Barbara.

A member of the San Diego Horticultural Society since 2009, Barbara was drawn to SDHS by the interesting speakers, friendly people and garden tours. She is also a member and active volunteer for the San Diego Watercolor Society (SDWS).

Lover of Plants

Gardens have always been a part of Barbara’s life. Her uncles, the Saroyan Brothers, were fruit growers and packers and her mom had a very green thumb. “More than half of my roses are starters from my mom’s going back many years. We had sword ferns in our shaded entry area that dated back to a Seattle trip when I was five years old! My mom brought back starts and those plants followed her to her next two homes and both of mine." The loquat tree growing in the greenbelt adjacent to Barbara’s Poway home also came from her mother, the result of a pit Mom stuck in the ground.

When Barbara married Gary in 1974, they had a small succulent garden on their balcony. Their home in La Mesa produced plants as well as salad material and strawberries. Both worked in the garden, planting and learning. When they moved to north Poway in 1979, they hired a landscape architect to collaborate with them on a landscape design and specify suitable plants. Since then, they have removed some trees that had grown to be a nuisance; eventually they took out the lawn as well. They are currently working on makeover plans.

Barbara loves whatever is in bloom: sweet peas, roses, bulbs! Barbara loves having plants from others, as they always remind her of special people; she particularly values some unique plants that Gary bought from Jim Wright when they went to an SDHS coffee in his garden.

“Our involvement in the Horticulture Society has re-educated us,” Barbara told me. “My ideas and tastes have really changed. I’ve discovered so many plants, especially the beautiful Australian and South African ones.”

And Art...

The artist in her harkens back to her days in the Brownies. She says, “I grew up making stuff out of other stuff” and “being artistic.” Just as joining SDHS changed Barbara’s approach to gardening, joining the San Diego Watercolor Society was pivotal to her artistic growth. The first show she entered was the annual experimental show, perfect for her approach to art. Her entry was a re-purposed vintage mid-century chair that used the chair seat as her “canvas.” She was juried in, received Best of Show and a cash award, and the juror purchased it.

Most of Barbara’s volunteering, past and present, has involved either supporting arts or creatively using them to serve others. She ran the PTSA (parent/teacher/student association) Reflections arts program for 10 years at three different schools. Her current volunteer activities, in addition to SDHS, include assisting at her church (special events/décor, music ministry) and at SDWS (gallery staffing, workshops, special events).

When asked for five words that would describe her…Barbara said, “I’m often told that I am an ENCOURAGER….joyful, creative, artistic, and loyal.” I know that I would use all these words for her.

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