Oregon Garden

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Oregon Garden
Oregon Garden conifer entrance 2007-12-23 15-04-03 0038.jpeg
Entry to the Conifer Garden within Oregon Garden
Type Non-profit, public
Location 879 West Main Street
Silverton, Oregon,
United States
Coordinates 44°59′43″N 122°47′33″W / 44.995187°N 122.792454°W / 44.995187; -122.792454Coordinates: 44°59′43″N 122°47′33″W / 44.995187°N 122.792454°W / 44.995187; -122.792454
Area 80 acres (32 ha)
Created April 17, 1999
Operated by Moonstone Garden Management Incorporated.[1]
Visitors 40,000 (2005)[1]
Status open

Oregon Garden is an 80-acre (32 ha) botanical garden and tourist attraction in Silverton, Oregon, United States. Opened in 1999, the garden includes a variety of plant species and habitats and the only Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oregon. The garden is owned by the non-profit Oregon Garden Foundation, with the facility open every day. Additionally, it hosts community events and four to eight annual concerts[2] while providing educational outreach programs and award-winning environmental impacts.[3]


The "Northwest Garden" within the Oregon Garden

A public showcase garden had been conceived since at least the 1940s.[4] Work towards the realization of the concept began in earnest around 1990, with land dedicated in 1995. A partnership between the Oregon Association of Nurserymen and the city of Silverton created the garden, with other support coming from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, The American Conifer Society, and the Oregon timber industry.[3] In April 1996, a master plan was created for the garden which includes ultimately developing all 240 acres (0.97 km2) of the site.[1][2] The groundbreaking ceremony occurred June 27, 1997 and featured high-ranking Oregon politicians.[a] The garden opened to the public during a dedication on April 17, 1999. Attendance at the garden totaled 250,000 visitors the first year.[1] Subsequent ceremonies dedicated additional features such as Gordon House on March 2, 2002, and the Rediscovery Forest and Natural Resources Center on June 7, 2002.[5]

In 2002, the water garden won an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects for environmental friendliness.[3]


Year Attendance Net profit Notes
2001 238,000 n/a Begins charging admission[4]
2002 181,000 $-383,330 [6][2]
2003 100,000–
$-932,010 [b]
2004 130,000 $-446,000 (est.) [6]
2005 40,000 [1]

The Oregon Garden struggles to survive financially, and has since inception.[9] Proceeds from admissions have been below management expectations. Funds from the Oregon Lottery, City of Silverton, and Marion County have helped keep it functioning.[1][c] The early years saw a relatively ambitious series of garden expansion. Since 2003, the addition of new features has slowed substantially. Attendance continues to decline, but compared favorably until 2003 with other Oregon gardens such as the Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden with 153,748 and 165,504 (respectively) visitors in 2002.

In 2005, Marion County issued $5 million in bonds to support the attraction.[1] In 2005, the Oregon Garden Foundation placed the garden in receivership as attendance had declined to 40,000 people that year with a delinquent debt of $8 million.[1] For 2006, the Garden lost $1.1 million with a revenue of less than $275,000.[11] The garden nearly closed due to its financial obligations.[12]

To ensure financial solvency, a deal was struck with Moonstone Garden Management Incorporated in 2006 in which the company would take over operations of the garden, with the Oregon Garden Foundation retaining ownership.[13] Moonstone purchased 11.1 acres (4.5 ha) from the City of Silverton[14] to build a 103-room resort hotel on undeveloped land adjacent to the garden's water feature.[15] The deal—set to last as long as 75 years—has Moonstone progressively repaying the $5 million bond from garden and resort revenue.[16] The 11-acre (4 ha) resort opened September 1, 2008.[17]

Plans to develop adjacent land to expand the Oregon Garden appear to be abandoned with a proposal to develop the 80-acre (32 ha) property southwest of the site into an urban park called Pettit Natural Area Demonstration Urban Natural Area.[18]


Oregon Garden amazing water fountain 2007-12-23 15-13-53 0057.jpeg

As of 2005, the Oregon Garden includes more than twenty specialty gardens and features such as the Bosque, Children's Garden, Conifer Garden (one of the largest collections of dwarf and miniature conifers in the United States), Honor Garden, Hughes Water Garden, Jackson & Perkins Rose Garden, Lewis & Clark Garden, Northwest Garden, Pet Friendly Garden, and Sensory Garden. The water garden is a maze-like area with numerous paths and bridges.[3] A 25-acre (100,000 m2) native Oregon white oak grove includes the 400-year-old, 100-foot (30 m) Signature Oak, which is one of Oregon's Heritage Trees.[19][20] The garden holds an annual festival each autumn.[21] Also on the grounds is the Teufel Amphitheater which hosts concerts and other events; Sam Bush played in the Amphitheater in 2006.[22]

Gordon House, the only house Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Oregon, is now on the grounds of Oregon Garden. The house, designed in 1957, is one of Wright's Usonian houses, and the only Wright house open to the public in the Pacific Northwest. Completed in 1964, the home was moved from Wilsonville, Oregon, to the garden in 2001.[23]

On each Earth Day since 1999, the Garden hosts a celebration which attracts environmental supporters and organizations with demonstrations, exhibitions, and workshops. Garden admission is free for this event.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The dedication speech was given by former U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield. The first soil was turned by U.S. Representative Darlene Hooley.
  2. ^ Sources disagree: 100,000 comes from the Daily Journal of Commerce,[7] and 158,000 from the Statesman Journal.[8]
  3. ^ Lottery funds repay a $5 million bond which the Oregon Garden is obligated to repay. The county commission paid down this loan on behalf of the Oregon Garden.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Pokorny, Kym (July 6, 2006). "Green Ways: Hope grows". Homes and Gardens. The Oregonian. p. 8. 
  2. ^ a b c Rose, Michael (November 16, 2003). "The Oregon Garden has a withering outlook—As attendance tumbles, the garden is rethinking its business plan". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on November 3, 2004. Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d "A garden jewel in the Northwest". Home & Garden. Grand Rapids Press. October 22, 2006. p. L4. 
  4. ^ a b "The Oregon Garden time line". Statesman Journal. November 16, 2003. Archived from the original on November 10, 2004. Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  5. ^ "History". Oregon Garden. Archived from the original on November 29, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Rose, Michael (August 15, 2004). "Attendance projections, not reality, got Oregon Garden bond approved". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on November 19, 2005. Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  7. ^ Curl, Aimee (July 15, 2004). "Oregon Garden's effect on Silverton still uncertain". Daily Journal of Commerce. Portland, OR. Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  8. ^ Rose, Michael (August 15, 2004). "Attendance projections, not reality, got Oregon Garden bond approved". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on November 19, 2005. Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  9. ^ Rose, Michael (December 8, 2004). "Oregon Garden seeks financial leeway". Statesman Journal. 
  10. ^ "Minutes of Marion County Board Regular session". Marion County, Oregon. June 1, 2005. Archived from the original on November 13, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2007. 
  11. ^ Oregon Garden Foundation (August 13, 2007). "IRS form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax" (PDF). GuideStar. Retrieved December 31, 2008. 
  12. ^ Rose, Michael (September 3, 2005). "Stopgap measure to keep garden open". Statesman Journal. 
  13. ^ Traver, Sheldon (September 5, 2007). "Profitability plan unfurls in Oregon Garden deal". Statesman Journal. 
  14. ^ City of Silverton (September 8, 2008). "Parks and Recreation Master Plan" (PDF). p. 26. Retrieved December 31, 2008. 
  15. ^ Rose, Michael (March 28, 2006). "Oregon Garden has deal for new owner". Statesman Journal. 
  16. ^ "Backers say future looks better for Oregon Garden". Ashland Daily Tidings. Associated Press. September 5, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2008. 
  17. ^ "The Oregon Garden Resort". TravelOregon. Retrieved July 28, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Parks and Recreation Master Plan" (2008), p. 80.
  19. ^ "Specialty Gardens: Signature Oak Tree and Oak Grove". Oregon Garden. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2007. 
  20. ^ "Heritage Tree and Historical Marker brochure" (PDF). Oregon Travel Information Council. Retrieved December 17, 2007. 
  21. ^ Zone, Rob (September 27, 2007). "Oregon Garden fest welcomes a new season". Travel Notes. The Seattle Times. p. G26. 
  22. ^ Yeager, Angela (July 20, 2006). "Legendary Sam Bush plays garden". Statesman Journal. 
  23. ^ Kuehnel, Danielle (June 25, 2006). "Vintage cars park at Gordon House". Statesman Journal. 
  24. ^ ahartley (February 15, 2006). "7th Annual Earth Day Celebration at The Oregon Garden" (PDF). Oregon Garden. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 11, 2006. Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  25. ^ Ellaby, Liz (January 27, 2007). "Aldridge Gardens wants $6 million to spruce up Unusual 300-foot waterfall in the plan". Birmingham News. 
  26. ^ Willey, Bruce (Summer 2003). "Innovative Wastewater Management Creates Wetlands and Irrigation Supply for the Oregon Garden" (PDF). Waterscapes. HDR Incorporated. 14 (2). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 10, 2010. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 

External links[edit]