If you’re going to visit a botanic garden, the unexpected site of green gardens situated in the middle of a large city can be thrilling, a special treasure where it doesn’t belong. But there’s something so natural, peaceful and perfect about a botanic garden that’s right where it belongs, in the middle of “the Garden City” and a state known for its greenery.
The Oregon Garden in Silverton, is 80 acres of the best the Willamette Valley of Oregon offers. About an hour south of Portland, you drive past several charming small orchards, vineyards and Christmas tree farms to reach The Oregon Garden. But it’s a pretty drive that prepares your senses for the paths.
Be Sure to See
If you make it to The Oregon Garden this fall, you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy the autumn foliage, especially in the Axis Garden. Maples, oaks and shrubs throughout the grounds change colors nearly daily. And from the Oak Grove, your view extends out over the valley below. If you miss the fall foliage, however, don’t fret. Winter is a fabulous time at The Oregon Garden, which boasts a large and varied collection of evergreen conifers. It’s like an outdoor conifer museum, with some of the most interesting dwarf and miniature conifer varieties you’ve ever seen.
The Oregon Garden winds its pathways through and over some of the most interesting water features of any botanic garden or park in the country. You can walk across a water garden filled with lily pads, grasses and a special visitor sculpted not out of marble or metal, but out of plant material. And the Rose Petal Fountain is one of a kind, surrounded by annual flowers and plantings, and a favorite spot on warmer days.
Be sure to stop by the Sensory Garden, which sums up the peaceful nature of The Oregon Garden and its emphasis on ecology and sustainability. With a rain curtain, wind chimes and other carefully placed art and architecture, designers have added a place of respite and relaxation in this therapeutic garden.
The Oregon Garden can give true plant aficionados a peek of what’s coming soon in new plant introductions. The garden serves as a trial garden for several growers/breeders. You can see the Proven Winners and Ball Horticultural trial gardens during your visit.
But don’t worry about the kids getting bored while you peruse next spring’s plants. In addition to a fabulous Children’s Garden that includes dinosaur and jungle fun, the entire garden is spotted with touches of wow and whimsy. Figures are sculpted out of clay pots, and benches shaped like butterflies. Most of all, you and your young ones will be delighted by the pruning and topiary; you’ll identify plants in all kinds of shapes near and far from the Children’s Garden.
There’s so much to love at The Oregon Garden, including trial plants, but here are a few standouts that grow in Oregon and other regions:
Japanese maples – some of the largest and most lush Japanese maples you’ve ever seen dot the landscape, and don’t miss the ones intermingled with the conifers.
Rhododendrons – the garden is rhododendron and azalea heaven, with some of the most magnificent displays of these stunning shrubs.
Burning Bush – the fire-engine red shrub featured along with rhododendrons in the Honor Garden, which pays tribute to the garden’s donors.
Wisteria – Catch them in surprising places overhead or on structures around the garden.
Roses – Nearly 40 varieties of roses cascade over and around the Rose Garden, including The Oregon Garden’s own variety.