Let's Go! The Oregon Garden

Oregon is a place rich with gardens. I've blogged about the Lan Su Chinese Garden, the International Rose Test Gardens, Elk Rock at the Bishop's Close as well as many private gardens. One of the most ambitious and largest is simply called The Oregon Garden, also one of the newest of all we've visited before, having been completed in 2001. Located in Silverton, just outside of our state capitol of Salem, it is open 365 days a year. Since my dearest, oldest gardening friend recently moved to Silverton, I foresee many visits in my future. Yay for me! Here's the first of I-predict-many-visits, a brief overview of this 80-acre garden.

The larger garden is categorized into some 20 specialty gardens, including a children's garden, a pet-friendly garden, a conifer garden, wetlands and more. I don't think we saw them all. In due time.

For simplification, let's tour the gardens now in the same order I saw them. We'll start here, in the parking lot of all things. An amazing full-sun garden full of perennials, shrubs, conifers and ground covers. They are very good about labeling plants at the Oregon Garden, a bonus for those of us who may wish to seek out these plants.

Nepeta or catmint is so easy for a full sun locale. It just blooms and blooms and sets off other more structural plants. Plus, cats like it. That's good, right?

Although a loose planting scheme prevails in many of the gardens here, there are touches of formality or shall we say repeated plants such as matched plants on either side of a path.

Lately I've been really into Calluna or heather. They used heathers to their fullest advantage, fronting many borders with some low-growing varieties. They add an evergreen or gold or silver touch to many beds here. 

Coreopsis is another great front-of-the-border plant. Most tolerate full sun and rather dry conditions.

This Potentilla caught our eye. I like them well enough, although I do not currently have any in my garden. That could change with this beauty that sports pale peach/pink flowers.

Just leaving the parking lot and entering the main gate, another touch of formality feels like giant arms welcoming you in.

In pots by the front gate are two Eupatorium 'Elegant Feather' plants. Mine in the ground are well over 7' high, these are much smaller by comparison, but an interesting choice for a container.

Before we paid admission we had to stop at the retail nursery. They have a small but nice selection of many of the star players in this garden. I bought nothing this day, but my friend scored some great plants. Most gallons are priced at $8, some even half price.

This combination of moss, rocks and black mondo grass was especially pleasing to me. Maybe I'll try something like this someday in my shade garden.

A simple planting of a row of birches under-planted with asters shows that you don't have to have fancy plants to make a fabulous place connected with nature. 

We sell this at Joy Creek Nursery and I bought one. Here is a mature specimen of Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' - a variegated salix. They limbed it up a bit and I like the effect.

OK, that was all just near the entrance, now on to the individual gardens. This is the edge of the Amazing Water Garden. 

A sea serpent among the lilies.

And a nutria munching on some plants, a beaver look-alike but with a long rat tail.

I believe this is Salix purpurea, a stunner that can get quite large.

It's nice to see these and many other Lagerstroemia or crape myrtles in the Portland area. They really do well here and are so beautiful this time of the year when they put on their spectacular show. Xera plants has an amazing selection in the event you are shopping for one.

Big, wide paths allow for the tram. It's free with admission and is a great way to see the garden for those who need a little lift. I wish we had done it, actually, to provide for a better overview. We were so enthralled with everything I believe we went around in circles a bit. No matter, that's what we do . . . explore then come back for more another day.

At the edge of the Conifer Garden. A nice use of stones and heathers.

The Conifer Garden boasts one of the best collections of dwarf and miniature conifers in the U.S. It was created in partnership with the American Conifer Society. One of Facilities Manager's relatives, a cousin Verl of Holden Nursery in Silverton donated many of the trees in this garden. Thanks, Verl!

I had no idea that bald cypress were so beautiful.

Well laid-out paths make for easy strolling and enjoying.

More heather! I had a bit of an obsession.

Here, Teucrium chamaedrys or wall germander is used as a border for annuals. It was long ago used in knot gardens and herb gardens and is an excellent plant in my opinion. I have four in a row and they are no fuss evergreen small shrubs. They take well to pruning and shaping, so they can make a good alternative to box hedges.

Creeping rosemary doing its thing. This is what I hope mine does someday.

This ever-changing palette of plants is a test ground for Ball Horticulture. Feedback is welcome in the form of guest surveys, available in the visitor's center.

Adjacent to the Silverton Market Gardens is this shady pavilion with a wonderful water feature in the background.

Masses of zinnias give a cheerful effect.

At the intersection of two gardens, a small maintenance building blends right in.

Although very informal, this was one of my favorite scenes. I'll need to go back and explore the Lewis and Clark Garden.

Somewhat primal, it is very satisfying.

What an amazing tree with a crooked surprise. You can't see this from the path, rather you have to go under the foliage. Hellebores below as a ground cover.

Well-placed stones lend a sense of history to any garden. Here they are inter-planted with sedums and grasses.

A whole hedge of Berberis, I think these might be 'Helmond Pillar'. 

I like the Flintstone's bench.

I had a hard time drinking from this very creative water fountain. I did it, though. I was thirsty.

A sweet spot to take a break.

The Children's Garden is very sweet, much to my delight. This Hobbit-themed home was quite inviting. Hmm . . . maybe I need one of these! Facilities Manager?

Fun-shaped trees are for adults, too.

A topiary of stars is a welcome change from regular old pom-poms.

Any child would find delight here.

Terra-cotta kids!

One of the better uses of old household items used as garden decor. The toilet and bathtub? Not so much my speed (toilet and bathtub out of frame to the left).

More creative topiary.

The Bosque, Spanish for grove. This area is often used for weddings, according to their website.

This area is the Rose Petal Fountain area.

Formal box hedges are neat and tidy. 

There is also a Pet Friendly Garden to showcase safe plants for your furry family.

On our way out, this hillside of Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' felt very impressive.

There are so many other photographs, but I had to keep this a reasonable length. As I hopefully explore more in the future, I will certainly share what I see and learn. With over 20 formal gardens to explore as well as a wetland area whereby Silverton's waste water is treated and used to create habitat for water-loving flora and fauna, it's a win-win. I don't think I mentioned it, but there is also a hotel and spa on-site, as well as a restaurant and cafe. So bring your appetite and enjoy an amazing setting. There are education programs, movies in the garden, a gift shop and so much more. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Have you visited any wonderful gardens of the world this summer? Let us know in the comments! Thank you so much for reading and happy gardening!


  1. This is one of the first gardens I visited after moving here. I was there in the middle of January and there was still lots to see.

    1. I bet there's lots to see...a garden for all seasons, indeed.

  2. What a spectacular garden. Great plants and great ideas. Loved the Hakonechloa on a hill. You really see it to advantage in that kind of a planting. Thanks for a terrific post.

    1. Oh, that Hakonechloa is stunning. You are welcome and thank you for reading and commenting, Linda!

  3. It's hard to believe that you just saw a small part of the garden as you've shown so many gorgeous spaces. Eighty acres? Wow! Sounds like it would take at least a day to see it all.

    1. I know....as I mentioned, I think we went around in circles talking, gawking, pointing and running towards plants. That's why we need to go back.

  4. Nice to make this walk with you through these outstanding gardens, I think a day is to short to be there, a good reason to go back and back again.

    1. One day is definitely too short...kind of like Keukenhof, right? That garden in your neighborhood is also one to enjoy over a couple of days. We will be back, for sure!

  5. It's a beautiful garden - and so well maintained! That crooked tree looked like it was dancing.

    1. That tree was my favorite, a wiggle in her hips...love it!

  6. What an amazing garden. The Bosque is really nice. All the still water and symmetry. I might need a hobbit inspired house myself. Someday I need to visit the area and see all the horticultural sites!

    1. The Bosque felt very tranquil.

      Doesn't everyone need a Hobbit house? If you build one, please post photos! Do come out and see the sights, we (all the garden bloggers) will give you ideas for lots of places to visit!

  7. I haven't been back to OG in a few years. Thank you for the photos. I love that place.

    1. You are so welcome, Grace. It gets better and better...

  8. I love the OG, always make sure to stop anytime I drive to PDX. I just swoon over the conifer garden. I seem to recall there was an expansion planned-I wonder how that is coming along ?

    1. Oh, great! They do deliver, and open 365 days a year! I don't know about the expansion, but it seems I too heard something similar. If I find anything out I'll post an update. The conifers really are a favorite.

  9. I've never been to The Oregon Garden. I really need to correct that oversight, though getting through Portland can make trips further south a bit difficult. One of my favorite things in this post is the limbed up variegated willow. One almost always sees them clipped into tortured pompoms. It's so incredibly refreshing to see one pruned to emphasize its natural beauty. Shrubby potentillas have become one of my favorite shrubs. They're just so tough and adaptable. Even though they're deciduous, I kind of like the look of their bare branches in winter, and they're one of the first woody plants to leaf out in spring in my garden. I'd also recommend the cultivar 'Summer Dawn'. The flowers are larger than normal and a lovely pale yellow, matching Santolina 'Lemon Queen'.


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