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Road Trip- The Oregon Garden

The Ultimate Oregon Garden Experience

Anne Jaeger

They’re still planting at the Oregon Garden and will be as long as the garden gate’s open. Eye popping annuals are going in at a dizzying pace as we speak. So, although the 240 acre garden in Silverton is on the 20 year plan, but there’s still plenty to see right this minute. I’m here to help you do it, minus the blisters to prove it. Here are my suggestions for the Ultimate Oregon Garden experience:

*The half-day plan: Once you get to the Oregon Garden you can get the Readers Digest version of the lay out by taking the tram. If you don’t know where to start or what to see, then by all means hop on board. The traveling tram leaves on the half hour starting at 9:30 and runs until 5:30. It only takes 15 minutes and circles the main garden. This provides an excellent overview. Upon return, you have an idea of what you’d like to see and exactly where to find it. As you get off the tram back at home base, might I suggest you pick up a pad of paper and pen at the plant information booth? These are free for the asking at the southeast corner of the big J.Frank Schmidt Jr. Pavilion (the first building you see walking in.) Take my word for it, as you are walking around you’ll find lots of plant names you want to remember and the garden has more than 5,000 plants with I-D tags. Maybe you’ll finally be able to put a name to the face of that one mystery plant you have in your own garden.  Signe Landin of Lowell (east of Eugene) and her mother met at the garden the other day. Landin got an visit and education at the same time “We have a pond. And I like getting plant ideas for it.”

*The Dusk to Dark plan: You get a “two-fer” with the cost of a concert ticket. Not only do you see a great concert, it includes free admission into the garden. The amphitheater opens two hours before the concert so event director Ben Gentile suggests you “bring a sand chair, blanket and make a day of it.” You can bring your own food, but there’s plenty of grub, beer, wine, bottled water and dessert available at the food court. Stake your territory and then make your way through the garden at a leisurely pace.

*See and Do: “The Rose Garden” looks wonderful right now. It’s in full bloom and here you’ll witness the benefits of liquid compost used to make soil healthy from the bottom up. The wet, cold spring did put other parts of the garden a tad behind this year, but the “Amazing Water Garden” is blooming with waterlilies and iris. The fascinating four foot wide spiky leaves of gunnera “Dinosaur Food” are steps away from the same papyrus the ancient Egyptians grew for paper. You’ll also covet the huge rock wall weeping water into the pond. Make a bee line for the Northwest Garden to see the flowering Cape Fuchsia “Moonwalker” Phygellius x rectus. A great and easy care plant. The Porcelian Vine “Elegans” Ampelopsis Brevipedunculta is catching up to the other climbers on the gazebo. It’s the most colorful vine of the bunch. If you love photographing flowers, morning often provides the best light.

Oregon Garden Tour Tips:

*Be prepared: Give yourself a good hour travel time. You might want to view the website first at www.oregongarden.org and print out driving directions before you launch. Then, wear comfortable shoes. It’s a walk, not a hike but there are paths (ADA accessible) through 70 acres if you get ambitious. Take a hat, some water and sunscreen. Most of the garden is in full hot sun, but there are plenty of shady respites to sit a spell.