Visiting the Oregon Garden

By January 27, 2015 Garden Tour
Oregon Garden

In September last year my mom & I visited the Oregon Garden in Silverton, OR. It’s 80 acres and was opened in 1999. It was truly inspirational for me as that’s around the same time as I created my own garden.

I’ll get to the plantings and design in a minute, but first I want to tell you that one of the purposes of the garden is to filter waste water. It’s quite an operation and here’s the description from Wikipedia:

“Using treated wastewater from the city, the garden is one of only a few installations in the United States that reuses wastewater for a water feature. Even in the summer months, the garden does not draw on drinking water supplies, instead relying entirely on wastewater treatment plant effluent, which additionally irrigates 240 acres (0.97 km2) of farmland. Until recently, such use was prohibited by state law, but the law was revised partly due to this water reclamation project. The garden also provides wetland mitigation for a nearby industrial park to provide waterfowl and amphibian habitat, and offloads Silver Creek from water it would not naturally carry during low-flow months in the summer to address an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality requirement. The wastewater receives final treatment on about 16 acres (65,000 m2) of the Oregon Garden where a series of 25 ponds perform three final filtering functions. The end result is extremely high quality treated water.”

I didn’t know ahead of time that this was one of the features of this garden, but it is one of the things I’ve often thought about since visiting. Such a graceful and effective way to deal with wastewater in an environmentally responsible fashion. It makes me wonder why it isn’t done more often in other municipalities.

And now, on to the plants & design!

We visited during a late summer phase of growth, and I plan to go back this Spring because I think it will feel very different. The garden we saw was filled with color and abundance, and showing the first hints of autumn.

Beautiful beds are planted all the way from the entrance, the parking lot, and then the garden itself is divided into different areas, from natural woodland to perennial beds of all types.

The garden is dotted with impressive sculpture and while influenced by traditional European garden design feels very of-a-place which is appropriate for the name, The Oregon Garden. The great Northwest influence is felt in the many conifers, the variety of plants that are grown, and specific gardens designed to showcase the variety of plants we can grow and that are native to our area.

There are interesting trials and display gardens, and beautiful ideas everywhere you look.

There’s a tram you can ride around the garden with a guide/driver who explains things as you go, and you can jump on and off as you like. The garden is large, but it’s also easy to just walk throughout if prefer.

Kate McMillan

Author Kate McMillan

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