The Oregon Garden Part 2

Dear Liza,

We sat on that bench for a while, cooling off and enjoying the views. We checked the map and saw that we were at the edge of the Rediscovery Forest. We headed in.

The Rediscovery Forest

This is a person-planted forest, and is used to study different types of forest management. But it looks and smells just like the forests I grew up camping in. We walked between wide-spaced pine trees, watching jays zoom through the dappled sunlight, and inhaling the sweet pine smells.

We walked through the forest and out the other side, heading towards The Wetlands. This is a series of ponds that step down the hill, and is the largest construction in the Garden, but is well disguised. These natural -looking ponds take treated water from the Silverton City Water Treatment plant and use it to a create a wildlife sanctuary which is home to thousands of birds, frogs, and other animals. As the water flows downhill between the ponds, it becomes cleaner and cleaner, until it is ready to be used for watering the rest of the Garden.

Looking downhill over the ponds

About this time, we all realized we needed some time off our feet. Fortunately, Grandpa Nelson always knows where the snack bar is! We got some cold drinks and sat at a shady picnic table, listening to the birds and the breeze, feeling our energy return.

We pulled out the map to see what was next and noticed something called The Signature Oak on the other side of the Garden! “Can we go clear over there?” I asked. We figured out how to go through gardens we already knew to make a shortcut, and headed off. We passed back through the Conifer and Children’s Garden, and by the Market Garden.

We walked under a curving arbor covered with grapevines, and came out on the opposite side of the Garden! There in front of us was The Signature Oak, 99 feet tall, 22 feet in diameter at the base, and an estimated 400 years old. We could see that it had suffered some damage in the spring storms, but it was still magnificent.

The Signature Oak

We headed back down the hill, getting to the end of our second wind. There were other wonderful parts of the garden we passed, but just didn’t have the energy to explore. We decided we would leave the Northwest Garden and the Sensory Garden for our next visit; maybe when you come up!

By this time we had gone below the entrance, and had to climb a bunch of steps back up. Oh, man!

We took a few pictures of a small waterfall, got back in the car, and Auntie Bridgett drove us home. What a wonderful adventure!


Grandma Judy

The Oregon Garden Part 1

Dear Liza,

The Oregon Garden, where we visited last Wednesday, is 80 acres on a gently sloping hillside just outside Silverton. It was started in 1997 as a project by the Oregon Association of Nurseries as a sort of outdoor showroom. But it is so much more!

Ducklings out for lunch!

Entering the garden from the gift shop, we were met with a collection of natural-looking water features interlaced with pathways. This area is called The A-amazing Water Garden and is filled to bursting with water lilies, frogs, ducks, and even one lovely green snake. Watching OPK’s ( Other People’s Kids) giggling, running, and enjoying everything was half the fun!

Handsome snake getting a bite to eat…

Our journey through the garden alternated between small gardens overhung with trees and wide-open sunny spaces, offering a comfortable rhythm. There was so much to see, I couldn’t stop for all the pictures I wanted, or I’d never move. I decided to enjoy my time and only take pictures when I really wanted to save an image. There are still a lot.

Just past the Water Garden we found the Bosque, a very formal set of lily ponds, created to reflect the surrounding trees and elicit a sense of calm. It was lovely and tranquil.

Reflections in the Bosque

We turned left and up the hill, heading through the Axis Garden. This is mostly open space, and is used for weddings and events.

The Axis Garden

To either side were the Conifer garden, with a delightful collection of evergreens, and the Children’s garden, with Hobbit holes and even a dinosaur skeleton in the sandbox.

In the Children’s Garden

Just above the Children’s Garden, the trees opened up again in the full-sun Silverton Market Garden. This garden features grapes, berries and other major Oregon crops, and is a major open air event space which would easily hold a few hundred people.

It features a large Pavilion, pathways, and about a thousand Peonies and Irises all in bloom. It was stunning.

Auntie Bridgett among the irises

About this time, we realized that our eyes were full and our feet were tired. We found a bench in the shade and just sat for a while, letting all the beauty soak in. Then we continued our journey up the hill, which I will tell you about tomorrow.

Peony explosion


Grandma Judy

South to Silverton

Dear Liza,

A Perfect Day for Adventure!

Wednesday was the one day this week predicted to be sunny, so we took that day off and headed south to Silverton. Silverton is a small city about an hour south of us. We have gone there to visit the Silver Falls State Park and hike the trails. We also went there for the Homer Davenport Cartoon Festival a few years ago.

One of the reasons I love going to Silverton is that the drive there is so pretty. We go past Christmas tree farms with lovely rows just waiting for the holiday. Cows and horses, goats and even alpacas look peacefully out at us as we drive by. Rows of lavender, grapes, and filbert trees cover the hills. Barns and chicken coops in different stages of collapse stand at odd angles.

This time, we were heading to a different adventure. But first, lunch! Grandpa Nelson, as our Idea Guy, found just the right spot; The Milltown Pub, listed as a ‘historic’ building just on the edge of town. I must admit, it didn’t look very promising from the road, just a one story brown-ish building set in a small parking lot.

But as soon as we walked through the side gate, we were glad we had come! We heard a small waterfall and saw flowers. There were tables with large umbrellas and chirping birds.

Peonies and Lilies in the Garden at the Milltown Pub

Grandpa Nelson went inside to check in while we chose a table in the garden.

Dancing Frog and waterfall…

We ordered our salads, sandwiches and fries from the friendly waiter and sat, listening to the birds and one noisy frog, over by the pond. The sun was warm and the breeze just barely moved the leaves. It was like Heaven.

When our lunch arrived, it was delicious. We ate and chatted and rested up for the adventure yet to come, our main destination for the day, The Oregon Garden.

Flowers at the Entrance

And next week, I will tell you all about it!


Grandma Judy

Another Day with Serendipity

Dear Liza,

Founded in 1909

This past Sunday we had plans. Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I decided we would drive through the country to hike around Silver Falls State Park. We enjoyed the fields of wheat, hay bales, vineyards, and grazing llamas. We were amazed at how close all this country is to the BIG city of Portland!

At Silverton, we got off Highway 213 and started out to Silver Falls, but because of a confusion of which direction to go, we needed to make a U-turn. And that’s when we got waylaid by serendipity.

Loving it!

On a narrow street, we saw cars lined up in front of an old stone gateway. This is the entrance to Coolidge and McClaine Park, where the Silverton Fine Arts Festival was being held! After about 30 seconds discussion, it was agreed that we should investigate. Bridgett saw art, I saw local history, and Grandpa Nelson saw Karmelkorn! It was destiny.

Laid out along the shady paths of this hundred year old park were booths selling every kind of hand craft. Quilts, stained glass, paintings, metal sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, hand sewn backpacks and bags. There were some wonderful “burses”, which are purses made using recycled book covers as the sides. I wasn’t able to get  a picture because of the crowd.

Mosaic artist Christine Carlyle and helpers

I wandered down toward the creek, following chalk arrows that said “mosaic fountain”. I found local mosaic artist Christine Carlyle and her band of volunteers, putting the finishing touches on a wonderful project, a refurbished wading pool. Eighty years ago, this shallow pool was created for the little kids to play in while the older ones swam in the creek, but it has fallen into disrepair.

Christine was hired by the city to create the design, which is a tribute to local beauty. The tiles were laid by more than 250 volunteers, each working on small sections. It should be done, they told me, in a few weeks. There will be the pool and a center column with a sprinkler, all lovingly created and tended to by the local folks.

The fountain’s central column, showing Silver Falls


We had brought a picnic, but there were crepes and paella, so we had those instead. The food was so good, spicy, and made by people who were happy to talk about how they do it. I may want to try some paella myself, when the weather cools a bit. There was also lovely wine and beer from Silver Falls Brewery.

Some of Linda Lu’s work

We saw many lovely things, but only two came home with us: a tall ceramic vase featuring the Portland skyline made by Portland ceramicist Nicole Curcio, and a set of pot holders by quilter Linda Lu. Practical and beautiful, these things will remind us of this day for a long time.

The silliest part of the fountain!

When we were full of food and joy, loaded down with treasure and ready to drop, Grandpa Nelson drove us home. We all found places to nap until it was time for a light salad dinner and movies, a broadcast of Finding Nemo and my newly purchased copy of Sneakers. Then off to bed.


Grandma Judy