“Wealth of bloom – Zinnias exceptionally nice this year. Yellow & white Zinnias and yellow ‘Flame’ Marigold very pretty. Pale Pink elegans Zinnia sweet color. El Dorado uncertain a mixture of orange and pink”
Elizabeth Lord, Fall, 1938
This fall has started out to be a busy one! In addition to annual fall garden cleanup and bulb planting, we are teaching a six week “horticulture basics” class to a small group of neighborhood kids. We have also lined up a group of Rotary Club volunteers to regravel the paths at Deepwood, plan to complete some West Allee drainage improvements, as well as repair the Reserve Garden fence — all before the lovely fall weather ends.
I love seeing artists in the garden, be it painters or photographers, as the particular planting they capture will look totally different next year.
Speaking of artists and artistry, the woodworking at Gaiety Hollow is sometimes lost in the background. But having worked on a good bit of it, I can attest to the skills and labor of love involved.
I love the cooler temperatures and renewed vigor fall brings. The shortening days add a sense of urgency to the task list before we bid farewell to the sunshine for the darkness of winter.
Hoping that fall hangs on a bit longer so I can get all the tasks accomplished.
Yesterday’s record temperature in Salem surprised us all. You may have received “Are you OK…isn’t Oregon supposed to be green, wet, and cool?” phone calls and texts from friends far away. Although 117 degrees may be an aberration, it is hard to deny that hotter, drier weather is heading our way.
We recently developed a water management plan for Gaiety Hollow, considering the diminishing supply of this precious resource as well as its increasing cost. The historic aspects of this garden, including plant selection, design, and density, result in higher water consumption versus more contemporary landscape designs. The plan identifies 12 potential water saving measures and the anticipated cost and savings of each. Some of these measures require an upfront investment before savings will be realized. Others would result in the garden assuming a different look and feel than its current state.
As part of our research, we contacted the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District and the City of Salem Water Resources Department requesting an audit of our current practices to see what we might be missing. We also contacted other historic gardens to see if and how they were addressing this timely topic. (More on the Gaiety Hollow water plan in a future blog.)
Hot and Dry on I-5
Last week, I drove to Pasadena, CA to visit family and friends, taking 1-5, the most direct route. Other than miles of irrigated almond orchards, and occasional sightings of the California Aqueduct, the landscape was quite bleak. It was clear that California farmers are being negatively impacted by the water shortage with abandoned orchards and pro-farmer signs along the way. Read more here.
Arrival to Pasadena
It was fun to see the beautiful Craftsman, Spanish, and Mid-Century homes in my old Pasadena neighborhood. Even better was to get reacquainted with the Mediterranean plant palette. Californians seem more serious about conserving water than we are in Oregon. Local water restrictions and associated penalties play a role in this.
On my morning walks, I saw creative reworkings of residential parking strips. Grass had been replaced with native and drought tolerant plants, succulents, and rocks. I thought about how we water Gaiety Hollow’s front grass parkway to stay green all summer. In our water management plan, we consider letting this grass parkway go summer dormant as many Oregon homeowners do. Perhaps instead we can take some ideas from our friends down south.
Thanks to all of you, we had a beautiful, fun, successful Neighborhood Garden Tour last weekend. It takes many people to help with a large community event, and your time and work was much appreciated! So, to all of you who:
Addressed and mailed postcards.
Distributed posters and postcards.
Greeted visitors at the entrance to every garden.
Set up and took down safety barricades, cones, and signs.
Prepared, packaged, and served box lunches.
Selected the gardens for this year’s tour.
Donated items for the silent auction.
Spent many hours planning and preparing.
Supported our efforts in many other ways….
The Lord & Schryver Conservancy offers its sincere and heartfelt gratitude!
Special appreciation goes to Sally Miller who donated 100 lovely and delicious Minto Growers boxed lunches (Minto Growers Food Cart is now open!); Karen Freeman who located and directed the 60 volunteers; garden hostess Joan Lloyd who let us store our tent, tables, and chairs overnight in her backyard; Jay Raney who photographed the gardens, and Ken and Jeff Freeman who helped with set up, tear down, and other logistics.
We look forward to seeing you at our 3rd Annual Neighborhood Garden Tour in 2022 – date and location TBD. Until then, have a happy summer!
Our 2nd annual garden tour will take place next week-end, June 5 & 6 in Salem’s beautiful Court-Chemeketa Historic Residential District. This year’s self-guided tour, an annual fundraiser for the Lord & Schryver Conservancy, includes 8 unique home gardens all within walking distance. Below is a sneak peek at some of the gardens included.
The ticket price is just $20 per person, and free under age 16. Click here to purchase tickets. Farm fresh boxed lunches featuring health savories, sweets and beverage, generously supplied by Minto Growers, may be ordered ahead for $15.00. Parking is available on street, and in Court Street Church parking lot (except 10-1pm Sunday.)
Historically Important Neighborhood
The Court-Chemeketa Historic Residential District is the major intact remnant of Salem’s original central residential area. The district covers 40 acres and includes nearly 100 buildings and structures listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Many of the homes were occupied by prominent people of local historical significance. Lord & Schryver were well connected thoroughout Salem and knew several of these residents. Records show that in 1930, Nora Anderson, Salem’s “Cultural Entrepreneur,” hired Lord & Schryver to design the Entry Garden for her Colonial home on Court Street. The Anderson Garden is one of eight gardens on the tour!
Lord & Schryver Design Guidelines
Lord & Schryver followed general guidelines when designing home gardens. These Fundamental Requirements in Designing an Attractive Garden were published in The Sunday Oregonian on March 6, 1932.
Proper placement of house on lot, i.e. garden relative to house.
Division into areas, such as entrance, walks and drives, service areas and pleasure gardens.
Relation and circulation between those areas, so that you can go easily from one to another.
View line or axis.
Enclosure, such as fences and hedges.
Interest, meaning seats, bird baths, pools, etc.
Planting the proper plant in the proper place
You will see some of these elements in the gardens on the tour. We look forward to seeing you there! Limited timed entry slots are still available. Purchase tickets today!
In 1913-14, Elizabeth Lord and her mother, Juliet, traveled to the Philippines to visit Elizabeth’s brother, Montague, who had moved there to work in the pineapple and sugar industries. This trip was Elizabeth’s first experience of Asia, and her diary reveals the strong impression the tropical beauty of the islands made on her. The pair returned home via China, visiting the Great Wall carried on palanquins, and, against the advice of the American Embassy in Peking, taking a train to Manchuria and then south to Korea. Upon returning to their hotel in Hong Kong after a three-day trip to Canton they learned of the beginning of World War I. After traveling to Japan, they boarded a steamer for San Francisco.
After Juliet’s death in 1924, Elizabeth made several more trips to the Philippines to visit Montague. During these trips she also visited Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Borneo, where she walked across the island’s wilderness with several friends.
Impacted by the loss of her mother and trying to find her way, Elizabeth acted upon Montague’s suggestion to attend the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture for Women in Massachusetts. Here she met Edith Schryver and in late 1928 the two headed to Salem, Oregon to open the first women-owned landscape architecture firm in the PNW. Their firm was very busy with residential and civic projects until 1934, when work slowed because of the Depression. The two decided to accept Montague’s offer to join him in Manila. Although Elizabeth was familiar with travel to Asia, this was a new experience for Edith.
Throughout their 40-year career, Lord & Schryver incorporated many design elements and plant recommendations from their extensive travels. If Elizabeth and Edith were here today, which large-scale design projects might they be working on? Here is a possibility…
Healing Garden at Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP)
In 2015, OSP’s Asian Pacific Family Club and its 120 Adult in Custody (AIC) members asked the Superintendent if they could raise funds to build a small koi pond as a peaceful refuge within the prison walls. Five years later, after much hard work and perseverance (with no taxpayer dollars spent) a beautiful Japanese-style healing garden has been constructed. AICs may now sign up to visit the garden as well as learn pruning, curatorial, and other horticultural skills.
Although Lord & Schryver probably would not have designed the traditional Japanese-style landscape plan, they may have advised on plant selection and helped with fundraising. Because the garden is not easily accessible, here is a short video.
In the 1920’s, Rholin and Pauline Cooley started hybridizing iris as a backyard hobby. Soon thereafter, Dr. Kleinsorge, a local physician and iris breeder, encouraged them to start a nursery. The Cooleys bought land west of Silverton, opened a nursery, and printed their first commercial catalog in 1928. Over time, Cooleys became one of the largest iris firms in the US and the primary source of new iris cultivars through an extensive mail order catalog business.
Rholin Cooley in his test garden (1949) Preparing mail order shipments.
In the early 1940’s, the Cooleys contacted Lord & Schryver to prepare a plan for an iris display garden at their commercial site. The plan featured multiple paths winding through the iris beds. The Cooleys most likely installed this design in the fall of 1944 or 1945 in preparation for the American Iris Society’s 1949 convention. It was a showplace during the convention as well as during Silverton’s annual Iris Week celebrations.
In 1951, Edith designed a second, more elaborate demonstration garden with pathways, boxwood hedges and iris beds swirling across the ground in a scroll-like pattern. This newer garden was featured on color postcards and in catalogs from the nursery when the iris were in full bloom.
1950’s Cooley’s Iris Display
Sadly, Cooley’s Gardens closed its doors in October 2011. However, another local favorite, Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, remains open today.
The elder Mr. Schreiner, a native Minnesotan, was a serious iris collector with over 500 cultivars, many imported from Europe. In 1925, he published his first price list under the name Schreiner Iris Gardens. His first catalog, in black and white with no pictures, followed three years later.
Upon his death in 1931, his children took over the business, but with an eye out for better climatic conditions. After much research, they selected Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley. Providing excellent soil, ideal climate, and a proximity to transportation, the valley’s offerings were unmatched. In 1947, the Schreiners finally left the unforgiving Minnesota climate behind and settled just north of Salem.
Today, Schreiner’s has 100 acres of bearded iris under cultivation. A centerpiece is the stunning 10-acre display garden. Fully developed in the 1990’s, it sits atop the original Schreiner parcel first purchased in 1947. The beautiful garden and surrounding commercial fields receive thousands of visitors each May.
Jay Raney, LSC volunteer gardener, says: “Schreiner’s display garden is gorgeous right now!” He shared photos from his recent visit. In addition to iris, Jay saw lupine, allium, columbine, clematis, peonies – as well as shrubs and flowering trees. Attendance is restricted to 100 people at a time due to Covid and tickets must be purchased online.
Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, whose own mother had organized women’s groups to promote friendship between mothers on both sides of the Civil War, originated Mother’s Day. Anna was one of 13 children, only four of whom lived to adulthood. On May 12, 1907, she held a memorial service at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia, handing out hundreds of white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to the mothers who attended. Jarvis pushed to have the holiday officially recognized as a day dedicated to expressing love and gratitude to mothers, recognizing the sacrifices women make for their children.
The popularity of the celebration grew and grew – the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that soon you could not “beg, borrow or steal a carnation.” In 1910 Mother’s Day became a West Virginia state holiday, and in 1914 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day a national holiday, to take place on the second Sunday of May.
Although Jarvis had promoted the wearing of a white carnation as a tribute to one’s mother, the custom developed of wearing a red or pink carnation to represent a living mother or a white carnation for a mother who was deceased. Over time the day was expanded to include others, such as grandmothers and aunts, who played mothering roles.
The holiday quickly became a commercialized opportunity for producers to sell flowers, candies, and cards. Anna Jarvis felt this was detracting from the personal and intimate aspects of the holiday and defied this by starting boycotts, walkouts, and even condemned first lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using the day as a means of fundraising.
When the price of carnations skyrocketed, Anna released a press release condemning florists: “WHAT WILL YOU DO to rout charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?” By 1920, she was urging people not to buy flowers at all.
Mother’s Day was even dragged into the debate over women’s votes. Anti-suffragists said that a woman’s place was in the home and that she was too busy as a wife and mother to be involved in politics. Suffrage groups responded, “If she is good enough to be the mother of your children, she is good enough to vote.”
The only one not to take advantage of Mother’s Day was Anna herself. She refused money offered to her by the florist industry. Instead, Jarvis spent the last years of her life trying to abolish the holiday she had brought into being, spending every penny of her small inheritance on her anti-commercialization crusade. One of Anna’s last acts was to go door-to-door in Philadelphia asking for signatures to back an appeal for Mother’s Day to be rescinded.
Anna’s final years were spent in a sanatorium in Philadelphia. There are claims that the floral and card industries secretly paid for Anna Jarvis’s care, but this has not been confirmed.
This year, because of the lockdown, many families won’t be able to treat their mothers to flowers or a day out and instead will celebrate Mother’s Day via a video link. Anna would be delighted with the lack of shopping opportunities, which she felt clouded the purity of her original vision.
Growing the perfect lawn is no easy task, in the days of increasing drought, pest pressures, and higher water bills. As I mentioned in Part I, Elizabeth often remarked about the difficulties of keeping a perfect lawn going at Gaiety Hollow. Prior owner, Dale Strand, used an electric reel mower to preserve the bentgrass lawn very well. Since the Conservancy has managed the garden, we have consulted with renowned turf grass professional and retired OSU professor, Tom Cook, to keep the lawns in top shape. His publication on Colonial and Highland Bentgrass lawns is a great resource for establishing a top quality turf at home.
Now that you have leveled any low spots in the lawn and the grass has come up, it’s time to start your mowing regime. With traditional ryegrass or fescue lawns, the mowing height is quite high – up to 3.75″. However, with Gaiety Hollows’ predominantly bentgrass lawn, the mowing height is much lower – closer to 1″ – to prevent the stoloniferous bentgrass from producing “false crowning.” This happens when the creeping grass is cut too high, producing long shoots that lay over, with the brown stems creating poor turf patches in the lawn over time.
If a mowing service cuts your grass, it is a good idea to ask if they are taking precautions to prevent the spread of boxwood blight as they move between gardens that might be infected. Hopefully, the service has a method for washing the mowers in between gardens to prevent the spread of pathogens and weed seeds.
Getting on your weeds early is a good idea as well. In the next post we will discuss the common lawn weeds and how to deal with them.
Stay tuned for more turf tips before we turn our attention to the rapidly approaching Tulip sho based on the recreated 1956 bulb plan.
“Next spring (1968) we must remake the other two sections of lawn. The front lawn between the Box hedge and the House had a planting of Chewing’s Fescue [Festuca rubra subsp. Commutate]- spring of ’66, tho’ I do not like the variety as it is so wiry. It proved to be dark green and stood the heat well. I have such a mixture of grass seed in the tool [shed] should either throw it all out, or mix them together and just plant it. Might make a sturdy lawn. Nelson has not cut this week at all & the new lawn is very high, a ten day stretch and tomorrow, his day here, rain is promised & surely looks & feels like it. He said he would come Monday, but he did not, nor let us know, but his absence did not stop the grass from growing. We had the rubbish from the trees taken away today.” Elizabeth Lord-1967
The lawn is mentioned at least 27 times in Elizabeth Lord’s 40 years of journaling on the Gaiety Hollow garden. You can tell Lord and Schryver often struggled with the lawn at their home garden. Due to Gaiety Hollow’s low location within the neighborhood, drainage is poor, and the heavy clay soil often stands water for multiple days after heavy rain. The dense shade from the mature oak at the end of the Allee doesn’t help, as thick turf likes sun and moist, but well drained soil. As this is the time of year that the grass is waking up and the mower is getting a tune-up, I thought I would write a series of blogs to help get your lawn in tip top shape this season.
Start by mowing the lawn to a normal height for the first couple mowings of the season. Let it sit a few days to recover and then mow it a bit shorter than you normally would. You don’t want to scalp it at this point, but you want to be able to see the low spots in the lawn. We use a mix of well composted cow manure and sand to fill the low spots at Gaiety Hollow. This is often sold as a lawn blend at your local garden center or bulk soil supplier. Fine sand also works but the addition of some organic material is beneficial. Fill the low spots with the soil/sand blend and use the backside of a rake to level. Overseed with your preferred seed mix. Gaiety Hollow uses a blend developed by renowned OSU turf professor Tom Cook. This mix of colonial bentgrass, rye and fescue does well in the shade and allows us to mow to the low height that shows off the garden with its verdant carpet framed by sheared boxwoods. Lightly rake the seed into the spots that are being leveled. Some folks cover with shredded peat moss or you can use a bit more of your leveling media, rake it smooth, and water lightly or wait for rain if it’s forecasted in the next day or two.
Keep the leveled and seeded areas moist. I like to seed in early spring when the soil is warming up and mix of sun and showers speed up grass germination. I have noticed that Lord and Schryver often remade the lawn in the fall. With its poor drainage, this likely led to the problems they encountered. Grass seed can drown if kept submerged for too long. The North Lawn (which Elizabeth referred to as the Oval lawn) often has standing water even after very short rainfall. We have gone to great lengths to improve the drainage in the turf at Gaiety Hollow. The next big project will be to see if we can finally solve the 100+ years of drainage issues in the North Lawn.
The Turf is an integral part of the Gaiety Hollow garden, often overlooked as visitors awe at the abundance of blooms. Due to the concern over the spread of Boxwood Blight we are now mowing in-house. This will lessen the chances of spores coming in from infected gardens on commercial mowers. The addition of a high-quality electric reel mower will allow the grass to be mowed to its accurate, historical height.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on getting that perfect lawn in time for summer.
“Late beginning to take note of blooming date. Had not intended to as have 59, 60, 61 & 62 years well noted. This more for the flower placing in the garden and changes to be made.
Flowering trees in bloom – an early spring. The new Prunus pissardii on the alley taking place of the Pink Hawthorn [Crataegus] which was blown down Oct 12, 1962 on time and did well considering the tree was transplanted from Pearcy Nursery – late February. It will do well in that situation.”
This is the only mention of the Columbus Day Storm that I’ve found in the garden journals. It seems that the plants in the Gaiety Hollow garden fared pretty well through that epic storm. Most of the old timers I have spoken with rank the 2021 ice storm as almost as destructive as the famed Columbus Day Storm. Fortunately, the Parterre garden survived quite well and is already putting on a show.
Spring in a Lord & Schryver garden is unusually rich. Lord & Schryver planted many early bulbs, including Tulips, that should bloom from now through the end of May. They also relied upon Primroses, Pansies, Violas, Muscari, Hyacinth, Galanthus, Hellebores and Camellias to add some color to the often dreary, damp Oregon springs.
Garden Managers Tip:
Despite several days of warm sun, and garden centers filling up with a variety of plants straight from the greenhouse, I caution against doing too much planting in the early spring. Although tempting to get a head start, the soil is still cool from months of low temperatures and rain. If you must start now, focus on the cool loving Violas, Pansies, Bellis daisies. It’s a good idea to harden off your new plants from the garden center before planting them out. I like to place the potted plants where will be planted for a few days ahead of time. If it’s going to be very cold at night, I’ll move them to a cold frame or sheltered place or cover them up with a frost blanket. Allowing plants several days to acclimatize in their new home before disturbing their roots will ensure they adjust better after transplanting, resulting in a spectacular display when the sun starts shining.
Mother Nature reminded Salem of her awesome power over the Valentine’s Day Weekend. Freezing rain is nothing new for those of us who have lived in Salem for any length of time. Rarely a year goes by without the threat of that annoying icy rain falling and coating everything in a slick, icy blanket.
But this year was something special. The ice started accumulating, not stopping until every tree and shrub in town was covered with up to an inch and a half of ice. Even the healthiest, most well pruned plants could not support that weight. Gaiety Hollow was not spared the onslaught of ice. Our big Oak tree at the top of the West Allee lost several branches. The Cherries and Lilacs also lost some limbs, with the Lilacs splitting at the base.
The Boxwood was the largest concern. Although not directly damaged by the ice, portions were crushed by the massive Oak limbs. Due to current Boxwood Blight issues in nursery industry stock, our Boxwood cannot be easily replaced at this point. We simply can’t risk introducing this pathogen into the garden.
The #1 cleanup priority was to remove the heavy Oak limbs from the crushed Boxwood, a task hampered by the lack of a large chainsaw. At this point, most of the West Allee is off limits due to the widow maker hanging from the Oak. We are waiting for an arborist to come and do the final clean-up in Oak and adjacent Southern Magnolia.
Although a few plants lost some limbs, Gaiety Hollow’s Camellia collection came out relatively unscathed. We lost an ancient Pieris in the Evergreen Garden that uprooted from the heavy ice. Also, several Rhododendron specimens in the West Allee were severely damaged by fallen Oak limbs. Deepwood had more Camellia damage with some uprooting completely. Sadly, many trees at the Historic Deepwood Estate were damaged beyond salvage.
We can’t thank our volunteer gardeners enough for coming out and helping clean up the mess. This was a historic ice storm, and the damage was something not seen in Salem since the 1962 Columbus Day Storm…although several old timers said this was worse. In my South Salem Hills neighborhood, we lost power for seven days. A neighbor who lived through the Columbus Day Storm said he only lost power for three days.
It was heart-warming to see so many volunteers show up to help clean up the mess. Kind neighbors provided their pickups to take debris to city-operated dumps sites. Chainsaws were offered and rakes utilized. Several fence panels were destroyed and need to be replaced. As the panels are made of different-sized lathe, none commercially available, these must be hand cut and finished. If any of you are woodworkers and want to help, please contact me at (503)799-2725.
Today, the garden is looking much improved. However, much work remains. Damaged plants will need to be dug out and replaced with matching historic specimens. Corrective pruning is needed on the woody shrubs and trees. Although the crushed Boxwood has popped back up, there may be long-term root damage. Let’s hope this was a once in a lifetime storm and not an indicator of worsening weather from climate change. After the wildfires of this summer, and the ice storm of the century, the Willamette Valley could use a break from weather-related disasters. Hopefully, March will bring kinder, gentler weather so we can get the garden back in shape for the upcoming open garden season.