Roses of Yesterday from the website on the history of Corralitos, CA
The Roses of Yesterday business on Brown's Valley Road was established by Francis E. Lester in the 1930s. He was originally a citrus grower from Riverside, CA. He lived at the house on the corner of Brown's Valley and Redwood Roads. It was there that he ran Lester's Rose Gardens. His catalogs were titled Roses of Yesterday and Today. Will Tillotson joined him in the business. After Lester's death, Mrs. Lester started a display garden and packing shed on the property across from Jensen's apple shed (410 Corralitos Road) with Tillotson and Dorothy Stemler.
Tillotson owned the business himself from 1948 to1957 as Tillotson's Rose Gardens. He established his home and rose office at 802 Brown's Valley Road and used the packing shed on Corralitos Road for a time. When Fred Hamisch owned the property at 410, he grew a few crops of the roses. Later the crop growing was moved to San Jose because roses could not be grown on the same piece of land without rotating the crops. It was necessary to grow alfalfa or cotton to replenish the land, so it was a constant effort to find land to propagate the roses.
Dorothy Stemler became Tillotson's “Honorable Secretary” and together they collected, propagated and distributed many of the old roses at a time few were. They were a fine pair. They enjoyed correspondence and feedback from customers. They would incorporate this into the descriptions each year in the catalogs.
Dorothy became sole proprietor when Tillotson bequeathed the business to her in 1957. She ran the business until 1976 as Tillotson's Roses with the help of her daughter, Patricia Wiley. They officially changed the business name to Roses of Yesterday and Today in 1977. Patricia and her husband, Newton E. Wiley, grew the business even more from 1976 to1996. They established the garden at 803 Brown's Valley Road. They added a shed and expanded to encompass the 240 varieties of roses that are there now. When Pat and Newton retired, their elder children, Andy, Jack and wife, Guinivere, continued to keep the garden open to the public every day and offer potted and bareroot roses. In 1998, the rose business established an Internet site www.rosesofyesterday.com.
“In this garden we live with the same inspiration from the land and this rose business that guided their everyday life and we are blessed to serve in this way.” Guinivere Vestal Wiley.