A Destination Resort is one whose location and amenities make the resort itself an attraction for tourists, rather than just a spot to stay while visiting the region. For Form and Foliage, The Oregon Garden Resort provided the best amenity of all: The Oregon Garden! And an unexpected bonus was that The Garden is open before/after hours to those staying at The Resort. Thus, we were able to wander at will before the crowds arrived and after they had gone home, and catch the best light of the day.
We spent most of our time in the Conifer Collection, which features not just conifers tastefully planted but also a nice selection of companion plants. The Garden was the brainchild of the Oregon Association of Nurseries as a way to showcase the State’s rich horticultural heritage. Groundbreaking was in 1997 and the Conifer Garden was dedicated in 2000, although the plantings feel like they have been in the ground longer than the intervening 12 years (our visit was in September 2012).
The Conifer Garden has one of the largest collections of dwarf and miniature conifers in the U.S. and was created in partnership with the American Conifer Society, which provides ongoing consultation. We hear that there are plans to double the Conifer Garden’s size so we’re calendaring a return trip!
We used The Resort as our home base while we were visiting nearby nurseries and private gardens and thus were able to see the gardens over several days. There was no shortage of plantings to observe, and we were particularly taken with the mix of conifers and companion plants, which showcased the best attributes of both, such as the juxtaposition of the blue spruce and orange heather in the above photo.
The same blue/orange combination (which we’ve written about before in We’ve Got the Blues) works with softer tints as well, as you can see in the above photo. Clearly this garden was planned with an eye to both color and seasonality.
The planners were attentive to shape, as well, as tall weepers flow into upright ground-huggers with staccato bursts of bright foliage keeping things lively. This garden provides many take-aways for the home gardener in design, plant selection, and plant combinations.
We couldn’t resist one last artsy shot of the power that the blue/orange combination provides! The color combinations in the garden go way beyond that pairing, however. The palette encompasses many shades of greens, yellows and reds and maroon.
In the above photo the maple in the foreground tries for drama while the conifers provide a range of color, even in autumn when they are not flush with new growth. Everyone that thinks that conifers are boring should take a long look at this scene, and remember that they will look like this all winter, too…
The above scene shows another side of conifer color – the ‘pop’ that yellow and gold can provide in a dreary winter landscape (see Bleak Midwinter). The lemony yellow of the billowy weeping Chamaecyparis is picked up by the tips of the spruce on the left. While the maroon Berberis in front and the fiery Viburnum in the rear are still in leaf there is even more garden color – in autumn.
One of the things that makes this garden such a pleasure to visit is the use of such a broad selection of plant material. The fairly pedestrian peony in the above photo, which most people plant simply for the sumptuous spring flower, has raspberry-stained leaves in autumn and provides a subtle accent to the many shades – and shapes – of the surrounding conifers.
The conifers are interplanted lavishly with beautiful specimen trees, chosen for their form and foliage (see why we liked it?) The weeping purple beech above shows off the cedar in front with lovely contrast of color, shape and texture. The tree trunks will continue to provide structure and contrast when the leaves have fallen.
We loved staying here at The Garden and would recommend it as a relaxing spot for anyone wanting to see a superb – and beautifully planted – conifer collection. Even non-gardeners will find much to admire and enjoy at The Garden, and the ability to wander freely when it is closed to day visitors makes this garden experience more like staying at a private country manor than visiting a public installation.
From here we visited a private garden that has some breathtaking plantings, so stay tuned…in the meantime, take a look at The Oregon Garden and start planning your visit!