Susan Casaleggio, Judie Lyon, and Jo Ann Miller (left to right) proudly display two Jacksonville Garden Club awards recently received from the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs (OSFGC). The Claire Belsher Historic Preservation Award, created in 1977, celebrates heritage and patriotism by honoring restoration of parks of local importance which include plantings of the original era. The Garden of Distinction is awarded to groups who have helped conserve special gardens which must be open to the public. In OSFGC’s 90-year history, this is first time two such awards have been given to a single garden club.
This award was first presented to Claire Hanley in 1947 for her review of the 19th century gardens of Jacksonville’s pioneer photographer and horticulturist, Peter Britt. In 2010, using historical documents, Garden Club members researched and identified an abundance of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses from Britt’s original gardens. Selections have been based on current availability, with deer and drought resistance. Garden club members have volunteered time and labor working with the Jacksonville Boosters Foundation, the principal project sponsor. They’ve planted, maintained, and irrigated nearly 400 specimens, as well as contributing approximately $14,000 from memorial donations toward financing the project.
The Garden Club continues to be involved with the ongoing preservation of Peter Britt Gardens. Approximately 2.5 acres of the property have been renovated as a City Park. The now-flourishing Gardens are open to the public all year to delight residents and visitors alike.