Demonstration gardens open to the public

Last Updated: 
September 30, 2008

CORVALLIS, Ore.— If you're a gardener or an ardent garden admirer, don't miss the opportunity to visit any of Oregon's demonstration gardens, now at their end-of-season finest.

The gardens are maintained by Master Gardener volunteers, who are trained through the Extension Service of Oregon State University to demonstrate sustainable gardening practices for the public, free of charge.

Although not all counties have demonstration gardens, many do and offer a wide variety of gardening practices to share with home gardeners. Plan a weekend visit, or stop by the next time you're nearby.

Benton County

Location: On the south side of the fairgrounds in Corvallis, on 53rd Street. Master Gardeners are available to answer questions and demonstrate garden techniques every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. until noon, February-November. Talks to groups can be arranged.

Highlights include: easy-access beds, drip irrigation, vegetable-growing techniques, espalier fruits, non-toxic ways to deal with insects, varieties suited for the Willamette Valley and weed-controlling mulches. Most of the plants are started with seed from local suppliers and include unusual varieties, edible flowers and annual herbs. Perennials include blueberries, grapes, apples, pears, persimmons, huckleberries and herbs.

Clatsop County

Location: County Fairgrounds, 92937 Walluski Loop, Astoria.

The garden is open any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Featured are English-style border beds, vegetables and a gazebo.

Columbia County

Location: Columbia County fairgrounds, 58892 Saulser Rd., St. Helens.

Points of interest are the kiwi arbor, raised beds, hops arbor, honeysuckle hut, native berry plant bed and miniature fuchsia collection. A map and guide are available just inside the gate for self-guided tours.

Deschutes County

Location: 3893 SW Airport Way, Redmond. Located on the Deschutes Fair and Expo Center grounds near parking lot D.

Gardens include labeled perennials, trees, shrubs and an all-America selections display garden. The fairgrounds are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or later depending on other events.

Douglas County

Location: 231 River Forks Park Rd., Roseburg. Drive west from I-5 at exit 125 in Roseburg on Garden Valley Road for about 4 miles. Turn left on Old Garden Valley Rd and go 1.5 miles to River Forks Park Rd. Turn left, go 200 yards and the garden entrance will be on the right.

Called the Discovery Garden, the garden is open from dawn until dusk every day. It is located on two acres and has 11 theme gardens, including a formal Japanese Garden, children's garden, butterfly garden, compost demonstration area, easy-access garden and a drought-tolerant xeriscape. The gardens demonstrate what plants do well in our climate, how to conserve water, how to improve soil through composting, how to raise vegetables and flowers when you have limited mobility, and how to raise fruit trees in a small area.

Hood River County

Location Mid Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 2990 Experiment Station Drive, Hood River.

The Central Gorge Master Gardeners Learning Garden consists of a compost demonstration area, bioswales/rain gardens, native plant garden, ecolawn garden, hellstrip/curbside garden, herb garden and a pond/solar fountain garden. The newest project in the Learning Garden is a Japanese Heritage Garden, due to be completed in the summer of 2009. The displays and gardens are open to the public for a non-guided tour daily during daylight hours.

Jackson County

Location: Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road in Central Point. Each of 23 named gardens, fruit orchards, cane fruits and grape vineyards demonstrate the use of the plants, as well as providing landscaping for the county-owned buildings. The gardens supplement the Claire Hanley Arboretum, which was planted in the 1960s.

Of particular note is the Lavender Garden, first planted in 2003. A joint project of the Jackson County Master Gardeners and the Herb Society of America, it is the only herb garden in the Pacific Northwest registered with the Herb Society of America. It covers approximately 4000 square feet and contains about 250 labeled plants.

All of the gardens are open to the public and are self-guiding. The botanical names of many plants are displayed and additional reference information is available in the Master Gardener office located inside the Extension building.

Jefferson County

Location: 34 SE D Street in Madras, in the bottom part of the Jefferson County Historical Museum. A demonstration flower garden is in the front of the office. Office hours are 8 a.m.–noon and 1–5 p.m. but the garden is available to see at any time. Metal signs in front of each flower or plant state name, scientific name, if it likes sun or shade and the amount of water it requires.

Lane County

Location: Adaptive garden, 950 W. 13 Ave., Eugene, or at the Lane County Extension Office.

Adaptive gardening is for people with physical disabilities, money limitations and space constraints who need help assessing their abilities and being resourceful. Featured are freestanding, tabletop raised beds that accommodate wheelchairs, two-tiered trellises and a pulley system for working on hanging baskets.

Visit anytime or call to talk with an adaptive gardening specialist, Judy Shirk, 541-747-6381.

The two and a half-acre GrassRoots Garden is located behind St. Thomas Episcopal Church at 1465 Coburg Road in Eugene. The garden is developed and maintained by FOOD for Lane County staff, Master Gardeners, school groups, youth from diverse backgrounds and community members. It is open during the day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. E-mail Gardens at FOOD for Lane County.

Lincoln County

Demonstration gardens had to be vacated at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds this year, but plans are in the works to open another. In the meantime, five community gardens provide demonstrations of coastal plantings and techniques, contribute harvest to Food Share, teach first and second graders and engage the community in sustainable gardening.

Community gardens are at Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, 12th Street, Food Share, Lincoln City and Waldport.

Linn County

Location: 3700 Knox Butte Road--in the NE area of the Linn Co. Fair/Expo Center. Visitors are welcome to stroll trough the garden. Entering the eastside gate, which is always open, you'll be greeted by grape vines, while the northern enclosure is dressed in espalier of apples and pears.

The new adaptive gardening section (for the disabled) is taking shape with the addition of a 50-square-foot pad made from recycled tire pavers. Raised beds are packed with ideas to try at home. Also on the site are square-foot gardens, creative mulches, eight types of composting bins, a cottage garden, river birch trees and a waterfall.

Marion County
Location: Marion County Extension Office, 3180 Center St. NE, Salem. Formerly a garbage dump, 4.5 acres have become demonstration gardens during the last 15 years. Master Gardeners plant starts in the greenhouse in the fall and sell them as a fundraiser the first week of May.

Vegetables, primarily tomatoes (even purple ones), are grown in container pots, and people are invited to rate the tomatoes. Also at the gardens are grapes, roses, orchards, a gazebo and fountain, a beneficial insects garden and accessible gardens to illustrate how to alleviate bending over while gardening.

Polk County
Brunk House, West of Salem, off Highway 22. Organic vegetables are grown around this historic building.

Gentle House, on Riddell Road in Monmouth. Flower gardens grow near this heritage home, as well as grapes and fruit trees.

Polk County fairgrounds, on Highway 99 at Rickreall. Drought-tolerant Mediterranean gardens join annual, rose, shade and cottage gardens, and an orchard of fruit trees. Master Gardeners work there on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Tillamook County

Location: County fairgrounds, 4603 Third St. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and during events on the weekends.

Highlights are native herbs and plants, kiwi, a Zen theme bed, wood ornamentals, a xeriscape, children's beds, pond, compost, waist-high beds for the disabled and coastal gardening techniques and plants.

Washington County

Location: Washington County Fairplex, west side, NE Cornell Rd. and 28th (park in cloverleaf parking lot), Hillsboro. Featured are a bog garden with carnivorous plants, vertical garden, square-foot garden, deer-resistant garden and hummingbird and butterfly garden.

The County Extension office, at 18640 NW Walker Road in Beaverton, has a more formal display of gardens.

Yamhill County

Location: County fairgrounds, 2070 NE Lafayette Ave., McMinnville. See a slide show of the demonstration gardens on their Web site.

Author: Judy Scott
Source: OSU Master Gardeners