Winter In The Garden

Season’s Greetings!

My name is Hannah Curry and in April of 2022, I became the Head Gardener for the Lord & Schryver Conservancy. I am excited to be part of the team and I’m looking forward to all that we’ll accomplish in the future.

Winter is a time of rest and dormancy for many plants in the Pacific Northwest, but here in the gardens of Lord & Schryver there is always something of interest and beauty to enjoy. Back in April I wondered what the winter months would be like, what would keep me busy while most of the plants were sleeping? Turns out, there’s plenty to keep me busy this time of year between leaves falling like blankets, tulip planting and weeds poking up. Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to lately in the historic gardens.

A beautiful Amaryllis blooms alongside Edith & Elizabeth.
Early morning frost in the North Lawn
Camellia sasanqua “Cleopatra” showing off its gorgeous blooms in the Drying Garden with a nice view of the espaliered sasanqua in the background.
These fungi have been busy all season, their hyphae hidden from view until conditions were just right to show off their fruiting bodies (often called toadstools or mushrooms), which will now sporulate to complete their lifecycle. They look so cozy amongst the ferns and Solomon’s Seal in the Evergreen Garden here at Gaiety Hollow. Often, mushrooms are a sign of healthy soil conditions in the garden and they can be quite beneficial to the plant life around them.
Toadstools growing in the natural area at Deepwood, aren’t they adorable?
Winter is the perfect time to dream and plan for warmer months ahead. These tulip bulbs in the Scroll Garden at Deepwood will bring beauty and color come springtime. These are Dordogne tulips, which will grow to a stunning height of 26 inches by late spring and provide a shimmering orange-pink hue. In order to plant nearly 100 bulbs in this bed edged with English Boxwood, I dug out several inches of soil and placed it onto an adjacent tarp. Next, I spaced the bulbs about 6 inches apart and covered them with the soil I reserved. I then added a good inch or two of good quality fresh mulch, patted them down gently and watered them in. The hardest part is being patient until spring!

Garden flags were used at Gaiety Hollow this year to indicate the quantity and variety of bulbs planted in each area.

When you’ve run out of flowers to gaze at and the green foliage starts to blur against the grey skies, one can appreciate the beauty of the hardscaping in the gardens. Shown here are some of the historic bricks in the Scroll Garden with photos taken before and after a good cleaning. These bricks were grimy and slippery before volunteer Lysa and I gave them a good scrub. The final step was to spray the bricks with a product called “Wet & Forget”, which prevents moss and algal growth. The bright red bricks compliment the intricacies of the ironwork in the fence behind and really set-off the greens of the boxwood and lawns.

Remember those leaves I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Raking is just one way to remove leaves from your lawn, and it’s a tiring one, sure to fill those yard debris bins quickly. Enter: mulch-mowing! See that clean line on the left of the photo? That was accomplished by using an electric mower set high which scoops up and shreds the fallen leaves with minimal effort. Mulched leaves can be added to garden beds, composted or placed in your yard debris bins- and they won’t take up as much space, either.

Thanks for taking the time to read my very first blog. From all of us here at the Lord & Schryver Conservancy, we wish you a wonderful holiday season! We hope you’ll visit us soon.


Corrected link: Purchase tickets now

The Lord & Schryver Conservancy Neighborhood Garden Tour will be held on Saturday & Sunday, June 4 & 5 in Salem’s beautiful and historic Fairmount Hill neighborhood. The tour includes 12 unique residential gardens all within walking distance of each other. The Robertson Garden, along with three other Lord & Schryver-designed gardens, will be featured on the tour. We hope to see you there!

A Sneak Peek at the Robertson Garden…#5 on the June Garden Tour!

In 1931, Mildred Robertson, the wife of a prominent Salem physician, asked Lord & Schryver to design a garden plan for their stately home located in Salem’s Fairmount Hill neighborhood. The catch was that Mrs. Robertson only wanted to pay $75 – $100 to develop a master plan. Lord & Schryver were perplexed that a client would assume they would agree to manage the entire project – from design to installation – for this small fee.

When Edith provided an initial “Sketch Plan,” the Robertsons wanted to purchase it outright for $50. Elizabeth wrote to Mildred that the firm did not operate this way. “We are awfully sorry that you feel that the price is more than you can afford. Under the circumstances, we suggest a price of $75 which could be paid at intervals during the year. We could make the front design and planting plan, and later, when you wish, draw up the rear part of the plan. I do not see how we can possibly lower our fee and we hope you and Dr. Robertson will consider this proposition.”

Robertson Garden Design Plan

The site the Robertsons purchased was one of the most challenging the firm would deal with in their practice. It was a modest-sized lot with a steep slope and a 20% grade change. The Robertsons had hired Salem architect Clarence Smith, a colleague of Elizabeth, to design their new home. 

The architect centered the house halfway up the slope from the street. Edith designed the shrub-lined driveway on the diagonal, ending in a parking area in front of the house that included a small lawn defined by low stone walls and shrubs.

The real garden was in the rear. Edith created three garden levels running parallel to the house. The first, a stone-flagged terrace 84 feet long by 15 feet wide, was on the same level as the house, creating an area with easy access for entertaining.

The first terrace behind the house.

Steps led up to the second level, a narrow terrace with flagstone paving and a sundial. A few more steps led to the third level, which opened onto a lawn.

View of the second terrace.

The property’s boundary was informally planted with a variety of evergreen and flowering trees and shrubs. There was a small porch overlooking a naturalistic garden with a rockery pool, forming a cool, shady oasis.

The Garden Today

The current owner, Alan Beardsley, is carefully restoring the garden. When Alan purchased the house 18 months ago, he also acquired the adjacent lot. “I recently became the curator of this beautiful garden.  The original design and plantings were very well-conceived, so I concluded my focus should be to bring new vitality by restoring portions.  Only now am I viewing some plants in bloom.  I enjoy selecting new specimens, planting them with care, and conversing with friendly neighbors who share a love of botanical beauty and stewardship.  In quiet times, while working in a secluded spot with Victor (beloved corgi) at my side, I realize our private location was once included in a watercolor sketch that the “Ladies” had rendered.”

Victor supervising the planting of a rose bush.
Pathway to the upper terrace.

The Lord & Schryver Conservancy Neighborhood Garden Tour will be held on Saturday & Sunday, June 4 & 5 in Salem’s beautiful and historic Fairmount Hill neighborhood. The tour includes 12 unique residential gardens all within walking distance of each other. The Robertson Garden, along with three other Lord & Schryver-designed gardens, will be featured on the tour. We hope to see you there!

She Got a Makeover

During your Gaiety Hollow visits, you may have noticed how rough the Service Yard looks compared to the rest of the well-maintained site. This area runs parallel to the east side of the garage, starting with a step off the driveway, northward to the boxwood hedge, and then west to the kitchen steps. There are concrete pavers running the length.

Service Yard walkway in blue.

The Service Yard provides a “hidden” path around the east side of house, most likely originally used for deliveries and tradespeople. Over time, the concrete pavers have become broken and displaced, representing a tripping/safety hazard for both visitors and volunteers working in the garden. This pathway is the preferred way for visitors using a walker, wheelchair, or cane to access the display gardens located behind the house. The only other access option is by walking over a long stretch of uneven turf in the West Allee.

A grant from The Kinsman Foundation allowed us to tackle this project. This is not the first time we have received financial support from this organization. The Kinsman Foundation has also helped fund other Gaiety Hollow projects including the Reserve Garden restoration (2019), front door canopy repair (2017), exterior house painting (2017), as well as repair of Deepwood’s Scroll Garden gates (2007).

With funds in hand, we hired Riverdale Landscape Construction‘s friendly and professional crew to manage this makeover project.

The project took four days to complete. Here’s a play-by-play:

  • Day 1: Broke up and removed existing concrete walkway, excavated 6″ deep to place rock, and hauled off debris.
  • Day 2: Installed and compacted 4 cubic yards of 3/4′ base rock, formed up, and place rebar.
  • Day 3: Poured 3 cubic yards of new concrete walkway matching original walkway (broomed finish.) 
  • Day 4: Removed wooden forms, cleaned up all work-related areas, and hauled off remaining debris.

The recent restoration included an unplanned ADA compliance enhancement. Over the years, attempts had been made to repair various damaged sections of the walkway. These repairs resulted in an uneven surface with extra concrete joints. During the recent restoration, these extra concrete joints were reduced in number to make for an overall smoother walking surface and more pleasing visual appearance.

Another enhancement made was a concrete cut out around the trunk of an established espaliered camellia growing against the house. Volunteer and retired arborist, Woody Dukes, recommended this be done to increase irrigation to the camellia.

Now that the Service Yard concrete pathway has been restored, we can encourage visitors to tour the garden in a circular fashion – no backtracking required. This will help with the enforcement of COVID -19 social distancing guidelines and, in the longer term, facilitate a more orderly movement of larger groups.

Eager to see how well this makeover turned out? Stop by Gaiety Hollow’s Musical Open Garden this Saturday, September 18 from 10am-1pm. At this final 2021 Open Garden, we will enjoy music provided by the Deepwood Strings as they serenade us into fall.

Bye for now,


(Somewhat) Illicit Plants in the Garden

As plant lovers and free spirits, Edith and Elizabeth may have come across some exotic specimens during their world travels.  Who knows…they may have encountered Betel nuts (Areca catechu) in the Philippines, Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensiss) in Argentina, or Cantueso (Thymus moroderi) in Spain?

Elizabeth Lord, 3rd from left; Edith Schryver, center. (Lantern slide, University of Oregon)

If Edith and Elizabeth were to stroll through the Gaiety Hollow Garden today, what plants might pique their interest?  How about these?  

Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)

P. somniferum is a valuable ornamental plant, grown in gardens. It is also the species from which both opium and poppy seeds are derived.

The earliest reference to opium poppy cultivation and use is in 3,400 B.C. when the opium poppy was referred to as the “joy plant.” Over time, its cultivation spread along the Silk Road, from the Mediterranean through Asia and finally to China where it was the catalyst for the Opium Wars of the mid-1800s. Today, opium poppies are grown mainly by poor farmers on small plots in remote regions of the world. These farmers collect and sell the opium resin to dealers in local markets.

Ross Sutherland with the Bush House Museum recently brought some young students to tour the Gaiety Hollow Garden. The students were intrigued with the dried poppy seed heads and the tiny black seeds that fell out when shaken. This led to an interesting discussion about poppy seed muffins, can we eat these, where do you buy them, etc. 

Gaiety Hollow, Parterre Garden
Poppy seeds

Most poppy seeds used for food come from the opium poppy. Although these seeds do have opium content, the amount used for cooking purposes is extremely small.  P. somniferum can be grown legally in the United States as a seed crop or ornamental flower. However, possession of poppy seeds and cultivation of the plant are banned in Singapore, UAE, Korea, and Saudi Arabia. In the UAE, at least one man has been imprisoned for possessing poppy seeds obtained from a bread roll.

Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)

Nicotiana sylvestris, commonly called flowering tobacco, is grown for its strong scent that attracts hummingbirds by day and hawk moths by night.  Unlike its more well-known relative N. tabacum, the species commercially grown for smoking tobacco, this ornamental tobacco has showy flowers with smaller leaves.  N. sylvestris was introduced from Argentina in 1899 and was popular in Victorian flower gardens. Today it is used as a tall background flower in mixed borders. N. sylvestris, the largest of over 72 species of the genus, is difficult to find as a young plant but easy to grow from seed.

Nicotiana sylvestris

Nicotinia tabacum

As an ornamental, N. sylvestris has a strong family resemblance to N. tabacum used in cigarettes. Because of this, some brave, resourceful souls have tried to air dry and smoke its leaves. Here’s what several experimenters have to say

“I wouldn’t bother with Nicotinia sylvestris as smoking material. It certainly won’t make a decent cigar.  If it doesn’t make you ill, it will surely taste awful.”

“I grew some Sylvestris two years ago, the plants and the flowers smelled really good in the garden (sweet floral/fruity smell), but the leaves are so thin that all the leaves I tried to air cure ended flash green dry, and they did not smell as good once dry.  I did try to smoke some (I tried the less ugly ones), the taste and aroma were not as good as the tabacum species I tried.”

So there you have it.

Concord Grape (Vitis labrusca ‘Concord’)

Concord’ is the most popular grape sold in the US with most of the vineyards in Washington and New York. The cultivar was developed by Ephraim Bull of Concord Massachusetts from wild Vitis labrusca vines. It was introduced in 1843 and remains the standard of excellence for blue-black American grapes. The flowers of this woody, deciduous, climbing vine are attractive to bees and the ripe fruit is attractive to hornets and wasps.

Concord grapes growing on the Gaiety Hollow pergola

Concord’ is an excellent grape for juices, wine, jams, and jellies. The traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich is made with Concord grape jelly. Its dark colored juice is served at communion services in churches as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine. 

Because ‘Concord’ lacks the high amount of natural sugar found in pure Vinifera varieties, its juice is always reinforced with added sugar when making wine.  Rumor has it that Edith and Elizabeth used this recipe to make their Homemade Dry Concord Grape Wine.

1 gallon water
10 lbs Concord grapes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 package wine yeast

Bring water and sugar to boil in a large pot. Separate grapes from stems and place in primary fermentation container. Crush grapes and pour water into container. Let cool until room temperature. Stir in yeast nutrient and yeast. Cover and let sit for 1 day. Ferment for 3 weeks stirring once a day. Strain through mesh bag into secondary fermentation container. Let rest for 1 month. Rack and let sit for 2 months. Rack into bottles and let rest for at least 9 months before serving.

Below: Edith, Elizabeth, and friend at their Seal Rock cottage enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Happy Labor Day to you.



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.

Other signs read: “Is Growing Food Wasting Water?” and “Dams Not Trains – Build Water Storage Now.”

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.

Have a good week!


Thank You Volunteers!

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! 

Karen Freeman, Pam Wasson, and Susan Napack setting up the welcome tent.
Susan Napack placing directional signs.
Sponsor table, welcome tent, and food tent.
Peter and Norma Gekakis – garden hosts/greeters.
 Frances Chapple – garden greeter
Bobbie Clyde (right) and friend.

Special Thanks

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.

Minto Growers boxed lunches.
Joan Lloyd and Kassandra Kruesi.

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!

Only One Week Away!

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.

  1. Proper placement of house on lot, i.e. garden relative to house.
  2. Division into areas, such as entrance, walks and drives, service areas and pleasure gardens.
  3. Relation and circulation between those areas, so that you can go easily from one to another.
  4. View line or axis.
  5. Enclosure, such as fences and hedges.
  6. Interest, meaning seats, bird baths, pools, etc.
  7. 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!

Connecting with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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. 

Elizabeth and Juliet Lord in the Philippines (1913)

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.

Edith (left) and Elizabeth (right) with friend in Philippines (1934-35)
Edith (middle) directing a gardener, Luzon, Philippines.

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.

And some spring 2021 photos.

Designer Hoichi Kurisu working with AIC’s.
The koi fish!
Sand garden and walkway.
Mother duck with ducklings.

Have a great week!

Iris Anyone?

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.

See you there!