Oregon Gardens, Silverton

July 18, 2002

Leaving at 8:00 a.m. under cloudy skies and driving north on I-5, we stopped at the Santiam River rest stop for coffee and goodies and continued on I-5 until we reached Exit 253 and Hwy. 22, which we followed until coming to a large brown sign indicating Silver Falls State Park and exited on Hwy. 14. This is the Salem route to the park and goes through farmland and rolling hills until climbing through a forested area and the south entrance to the park. The South Falls viewing area is located here as well as the Lodge containing an interpretive center and restaurant. There are several trails leaving from here, one of which takes the hiker past ten falls and is about 3.5 miles long. We arrived about 11:00 and most of the group left for a hike underneath the South Falls led by Ray. The clouds began to break as we ate lunch with perfect weather and there were plenty of picnic tables nearby.

We left around 12:30, traveling through the park and out the north entrance through the Silverton hills and the town to the Oregon Garden. We were able to park the bus in the reserved area and everyone walked up to the pavilion named after F. Frank Schmidt, Jr., who was a nurseryman who perfected the production of bare root and flowering trees and who contributed much to Oregon agriculture. The pavilion contains the Visitors Center, a gift shop and the Grand Room. The people-moving tram is located on the front of the building with a white picket fence enclosing a waiting area with benches. Landscaping is everywhere along the entryway with waterfalls, lots of flowers and a garden cafe with plants for sale. After paying the fees, our group headed for the trams which are on a first come-first serve basis, and since we were not given tickets only a receipt, the situation was a bit awkward. [In corresponding with the officials, the situation has been corrected and bus tours will now be given tickets.] Throughout the rest of the afternoon, however, everyone had the tram tour which takes in all the gardens with excellent explanations.

An outstanding attraction that has been added to the gardens is the Gordon House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957 and built in 1963. It was moved from Wilsonville last year. The house was saved from destruction and named after the former owners and occupants, Conrad and Evelyn Gordon. Our group toured the house, which is an example of a Usonian Home, a term coined by the designer to place emphasis on smaller homes for families of average means. We left the Oregon Garden at 4:30 in very sunny and somewhat warm weather. It is advisable to wear a hat as there is no shade yet in the Garden.

We arrived home a little after 6:00. Many thanks to the hospitality committee and to all who brought cookies, etc. Thanks to Ray for leading the hike under the South Falls and to Mary Lee for taking reservations. Our driver was John Bunker. Riders were: Ethel Allen, Marian Borchardt, Ingrid Carmichael, Mary Lee Cheadle, Lent Christoferson, Margaret Fea, Jeannette Forsman, Dora Harris, Barbara Hasek, Evelyn Hile, Mary Ann Holser, Margaret Huston, Ben & Pat Jeffries, Jean & Ray Jensen, Rosella Jones, Dodie Leppmann, Grace Locheart, Cleora Mersdorf, Helen Meyer, Mary Millman, Joyce Mixer, Maude Nilsen, Virginia Prouty, Liz Reanier, Edna Robertson, Betty, Harvey, Randy & Peggy Lynn Speck, Ray Schmieding, Ruth Ann Watts, Vera Woolley, Cristy White, Ellen Zigler and Bette Hack, leader.


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