Saturday, January 19, 2008

Revisit: Oregon Garden

It's a rainy, gray day in Portland, so i was sorting digital photographs and stumbled upon a few from a November trip to The Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. This was my first visit to the garden, and alas, the camera died about 500 feet into the garden, so a return trip is required. The garden was envisioned in the 1940s, and finally took shape in the mid-90s, and opening around 1999. Consisting of a series of 20 gardens, focussed around a typical horticultural display, or a theme based on local ecology, children, agriculture, or art.

The focal point is the A-mazing Water Garden, designed by Carol Mayer-Reed, principal of Mayer/Reed in Portland. The garden consists of a series of water features and ornamental water plants, configured around a sweeping bridge. This is one of the more formerly defined and well done areas of the garden.

:: The Amazing Water Garden - image by author

Another more recent addition was the ecoroof demonstration project added by Ecoroofs Everywhere, back when it was a non-profit building ecoroofs in the Portland area. This small project on one of the gardens pumphouses tested three different ecoroof soil mixes and a variety of succulents suitable for local conditions. One item of a more horticultural approach that provides some added value by identifying plant species.

:: image of ecoroof and author by SuSu Hunniecutt

:: image by author

Another feature that I have not visited, but plan to this year, is the relocated Gordon House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and moved adjacent to the garden in 2002. A prominent example of FLW's Usonian architecture, which were developed during the depression as middle-income L-shaped houses which are derived from a simplicity of form and materials, and was considered a predecessor of the mid-century ranch house and the carport. Houses typically had a strong visual connnection with exterior and interior spaces, and were developed with a garden terrace in the exterior of the L-shaped structure.

:: image of Gordon House via Flickr by Major Clanger

Many local designeres at the time played parts in many areas of the garden throughout the years, so as much as it is a display of local plant variation, it becomes a display of local design variation as well. The Oregon Garden differs from some more horticulturally-oriented displays in the sense that it provides some more orderly arrangements, as well as some working demonstration and and test gardens. A goal of the upcoming year is to visit the Oregon Garden in all four seasons (with camera batteries charged), to see the variations throughout the year. So more to come.

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