MY NEIGHBORS GARDEN – by Kay Faught
One of the BEST kept Jacksonville, oregon garden secrets is only one mile out of town! Many of us may think we know all about this treasure, but I was amazed at what I did NOT know about the Jackson County Master Gardeners gardens at the OSU Extension Center at 569 Hanley Road. Did you know there are 23 individual gardens for you to view… open for your private touring most of the week…that they are wheelchair accessible and that they offer a, “Discover the Gardens” brochure to guide you on your visit?
I am so pleased to be sharing the OSU Extension gardens with you – I often tell visitors in my store and locals about the Master Gardener Program, now with 400+ members. I called Bob Reynolds, an Extension instructor, and a leader in the Master Gardener program, to set up an interview time for this column. The gardens began in the mid-1990′s when the OSU Extension Office moved to the research orchards at the Hanley Road location. The Master Gardeners started the first “garden” in 1995, with the “Entry Garden” at the front door. Filled with a variety of plantings, it provides something to view year-round. Currently, beneath a rock bench and large Sunset maple, lie beds of coral bells, autumn joy sedums, potato vine, marigolds, Love-in-a-Mist and coleus. Crafted tile stepping stones add a personal gardener’s touch of color.
All the gardens have a two-fold purpose. First, they provide “hands-on” working gardens for new Master Gardener trainees, allowing them to work alongside experienced master gardeners. Secondly, they provide public demonstration gardens with local plantings.
I picked-up a, “Tour the Gardens” brochures from the office that tells about the 23 gardens, and as I waited for Bob, enjoyed a stroll along the red brick walk through the Culinary Herb Garden. With a waft of herbal fragrances welcoming me, I enjoyed the small 10 x 10 area with its variety of thymes, garlics, oreganos, and chives. Mixed-in are calendulas, hyssop and lemon balm… back-dropped by a wall of hops with lime green flower heads dangling in the sun.
When Bob arrived, we headed for the other beds. The first bed, with bright red tomatoes beckoning was the Kitchen Garden! There, a wire arbor holds clinging tomatoes above a variety of “square-foot gardening” examples. The area also shows different options of raised beds. One veggie prize Bob pointed-out was the Indigo Purple tomato! Small and a deep vibrant purple, they are high in antioxidants and have the distinction of being purple clear through. A new OSU developed-plant, it will be available next year!
One of my favorites was the Children’s Garden! It just LOOKED fun… beds of vegetables and bountiful sunflowers joyously pushing to the sun. 75 kids throughout the summer take part in the children’s harvest and flower program where they plant, grow, and learn to their hearts content.
Along the back of the property, The Wildflower Garden, (using native plants), Succulent Garden, Fire Wise Plants, and the Rain Garden provide 4 more demonstration areas. Only 2-years old, The Rain Garden gathers run-off from the buildings and utilizes it, producing an abundance of foliage and beauty.
Many of these beds were started from a Master Gardener’s passion. The Succulent Garden was planted by the youngest Master Gardener to have gone through the program. At 13, he took the course, and as a lover of succulents, put in the bed. He later became the head gardener at the facility, and this year heads to OSU to major in Horticulture!
Another passionate gardener’s example is the Daylily Bed! Marsha Waite, another instructor, loved daylilies and began hybridizing her own. Marsha’s playground now hosts over 100 varieties which Bob says is a showcase of color in June.
The Rose Garden, The Arboretum, The Lavender Demonstration Garden, Water Wise Garden and The Perennial Propagation Garden are only some of the beds that await you. I challenge each of you to discover the glorious adventure that is so close to home! I will leave you with one tease – find the “Wanda Hauser Garden” and relax in the beauty a private garden can offer. I for one am humbled by what I did NOT know about these local gardens.
Kay is the owner of Blue Door Garden Store, located at 155 N Third St. Specializing in paraphernalia for the home gardener she carries garden gifts, decor and a wide variety of pots, tools, gloves, and organic products.