oregon garden

Our first trip to the Oregon Garden was soon after it had opened. It was February, so not surprising that the conifer garden was the standout. Years have passed, and the garden has matured and changed hands. The Oregon Association of Nurserymen could not make a go of it. Their grand plan for showing off their wares never managed to break even, and eventually the whole thing was sold to a hotelier with a soft spot for gardens. He has kept the gardens open, and if Mothers’ Day of 2010 is any indication, the public has finally discovered them.


The little town of Silverton, gateway to the Oregon Garden, was abuzz with families seeking out brunch treats for Moms. Once a sleepy, forgotten place best known as a spot on the map near Silver Creek Falls, it has spruced up and gentrified. There were posters for wine tastings and jazz festivals and at least one white tablecloth restaurant. We wandered around a bit, but were more interested in getting our garden fix than waiting in line for fancy eggs.


This is the scene that had been haunting us since our first visit, and it did not disappoint. The circle of cedars Chamaecyparis nootkatensis strictus, interspersed with basalt columns, felt like a gathering of ancient Druids.


Here’s a close-up showing the stones. On one was a plaque crediting the ten members of the Conifer Society who had designed the conifer garden. What a job they did! At every turn is an unusual specimen, but the overall design holds together. And while the other parts of the garden were looking a little tired and unkempt, this section was as stunning as ever.


Suddenly, I am noticing quite a few Deodora Cedars being used by landscapers. I thought I was clever to include the labels in my photos, but they turn out to be unreadable. Richard’s notes are pretty unreadable too…a jumble of the Latin and common names makes his hasty scrawl a challenge to decipher. Sorry.


This was a sprawling, low-growing Korean fir called ‘Green Carpet’. The purple cones made it exceptional in my eyes.


I haven’t a clue what this one is called, but loved the red new growth on the tips.


The play of textures keeps things interesting. I just wanted to pet this one.


Hard to do justice to this Picea glauca pendula, which occupies its own raised bed in the middle of a path.


We found ourselves being drawn to the weeping forms, and this picture shows you why. The way it spills over the boulders edging the bed is pretty alluring, don’t you think?


Look at that blue sky! Do you think we will ever see such a sight again? The property is huge, with many moods and styles, but it is still the conifers that will lure us back for repeat visits. If you go, try to make time for a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright house that is on the grounds.

7 thoughts on “oregon garden

  1. We’ve only been once, about 4 years ago. I loved it, although it was a very very hot day (100+) so that cut into the enjoyment a bit. The Gordon House was closed for a private party so that too was a draw back. Still…the gardens are a beautiful place, I am so glad they were saved. I hope to see more photos from your visit!

  2. I love the Oregon Garden and was happy it was saved. While the conifers are beautiful and well-worth the visit, my favorite part is the Quercus garryana stand up the hill. Those trees are majestic!

  3. What a treat, Ricki! I love conifers and yet try as I might I can never get their names sorted out so basically I quit trying and just decided to enjoy them. Most are too large for my humble backyard anyway.

    I’m glad the hotelier is keeping the gardens in the black, or at least gray? Do you think maybe it’s the garden’s off the beaten path location that has been the detriment?

  4. Grace~I think part of the difficulty was the time it took for the garden to mature enough to be really interesting, and the OAN just couldn’t hold out that long. Other factors like the wine industry and having accommodations right there have drawing power to augment the lure of the gardens. I could easily plot out a whole weekend in that area if it were up to me.

  5. I’ve never been there, but we’re always saying we should go to the oregon garden one of these days. I bet you’re right, that it took a while for them to mature and become more interesting. When it first opened up, I remember seeing some photos of lawn and a formal arrangement of trees, which wasn’t enticing to me. Your focus on the conifer garden is much more appealing. I really must get down there some day.

  6. Wendy~Worth a trip out west, don’t you think?

    Megan~Makes for a very pleasant day trip…and have you ever hiked around Silver Creek Falls? Transformative!

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