In the early 1990's rumors began to spread that the entire area was to be sold and developed. But that didn't happen. What came to pass instead, after months of negotiations between city officials and agriculture specialists was The Oregon Garden. The Oregon Nurserymen’s Association had been passing resolutions since 1947 to establish a botanical garden in the state, and in 1997 they finally celebrated the groundbreaking of the site. Spirits were high and here's why, as described in The Oregon Garden website:
Enjoy one of Oregon's most popular destinations, where thousands of plants are displayed in more than 20 specialty gardens. Explore amazing water features, the Conifer garden, garden art, wetlands, the Rediscovery Forest, a playful garden just for kids, the 400-year-old Signature Oak and the Gordon House, the only house in Oregon designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Discover how easy it is to relax and be dazzled at The Oregon Garden, located on 80 acres in Historic Silverton.
Beyond the beauty of a growing garden, the Garden also offers an innovative solution to a wastewater problem as described here by an organization called Sustainable Northwest.
This is not to say that everything has always come up roses there. It's been a tumultuous decade for The Oregon Garden, with funding problems that threatened its future. Innovative ways to ensure its continued growth and survival included the acquisition of the property by Moonstone Hotel Properties that will open its Oregon Garden Resort in September 2008.
I'm optimistic about the future of this lovely place. Mike and I will be there on July 3rd for the annual fireworks extravaganza that lights up the valley. I plan on spending more time there this year exploring, as each summer the Garden becomes more lush. It takes many years for a botanical garden to mature to its full glory.
As much as I love the various gardens, my favorite feature at The Oregon Garden is just outside the official property. It's The Gordon House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Garden's website shows pictures of it but they absolutely pale in comparison to this astonishingly beautiful photo by Lee LaFontaine taken of The Gordon House in March 2007.
More about it from the website:
The Gordon House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, widely heralded as the greatest architect of the 20th Century. It is the only Wright-designed building in Oregon and the only one in the Pacific Northwest that is open to the public.
The house was designed to follow Wright's “Usonian” model, a design concept that changed the course of small house construction. His innovations included an open floor plan, gravity floor heat, carports, cantilevered roofs with broad overhangs and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Wright designed the home in 1957 for Conrad and Evelyn Gordon for their farm on the south side of the Willamette River in Wilsonville. The house was completed in 1964, and the Gordons lived there for over thirty years.
Descendants of the Gordons sold the property in 2000. The new owners agreed to donate the property to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy with a requirement that the house be moved off the property. In January, 2001, The Oregon Garden agreed to move the house by a March 15 deadline. The house was moved 24 miles south to The Oregon Garden where it was restored and dedicated as a public museum in March 2002.