Seal Rock

In spring 1971, an aging Elizabeth Lord wrote about the Seal Rock Cottage in her garden journal:

“I had Ivan cut the alders – down the path way, that part has changed so much, a sweet little garden wild things growing along the wood edging – but 2 years and no attention became a mass of salal [Gaultheria shallon] & salmonberry [Rubus spectabilis] and no trace of a trail.  Kurt took out the wild planting of salal [Gaultheria shallon] where the honeysuckle [Lonicera] had entwined itself – this left a larger space I immediately filled with Marguerites and Digitalis. I shall keep it such in memory of Montague’s love of wild flowers. This was a trying year. I do not have the pep to do the heavy work about the place down here. Nature grows at its will and nothing can hold it back. “

Nature has been working on the Lord property at Seal Rock for a very long time. The constant moisture from the neighboring Pacific Ocean provides each plant with plenty of water. The coastal thickets of salal, salmonberry, and sword fern are dense underneath the canopy of spruce and shore pines. It defies imagination how the elk, such a large creature, can navigate these impenetrable seeming thickets with such ease.

The Seal Rock Cottage and Garden was an often used getaway for Elizabeth and Edith, mentioned frequently in Elizabeth’s journals from the mid-1930’s to the 70’s. Reading through the journals, one sees their desire to escape the Willamette Valley’s summer heat to revel in the cooler coastal conditions where plants such as heather, rhododendron, calla lilies and coastal natives thrived during the dog days of summer.

Several of us were fortunate to visit the Seal Rock Cottage and Garden on a recent stellar winter day. Carmen Lord, Elizabeth’s relative and the property’s owner, has the site up for sale. The hope is that the property is not sold to a developer but instead to someone who appreciates the history that runs deep and who wants to preserve what can be saved.

“Staying the 2 weeks at Seal Rock knowing the wet weather in August was helping the garden here and as the year of ’68 was an off year and about finished as far as gardening was concerned. I was happy knowing that I did not have too much to do, but could plan now for the year to come.”

Elizabeth Lord; Garden Journal 1968

Reserve Garden Restoration Update: Moving the Shed

The Reserve Garden Restoration project continues! The contractor braced up the shed and used a shoring crane to pick the building up and move it to the other side of the Reserve garden. With the shed out of the way, a mini-excavator is being used to remove the old concrete pad and dig down to make solid base for the new foundation.

We are so pleased to see this project coming along nicely!

The weatherman says this is the coldest Thanksgiving in years so bundle up. If you are traveling, we wish you a safe journey.

Happy Holidays!

The Reserve Garden Restoration

The much-anticipated restoration of the Reserve Shed and Garden area at Gaiety Hollow has begun! This project will lift the old shed, build a new foundation and floor under it and set it back in place. The concrete flat work in the garden area is being redone with the historical design and finish in mind. We are very excited to see this project underway and look forward to its completion this winter season.

A few modern updates will take place as well, with electricity added to the shed, relocation of the water hose bibs, and renovation of the planting bed. After the contractor work is completed, we will add a potting bench and cold frames for propagation.

A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped clean out the shed in preparation for this project. We are forever grateful for the dedicated support of hard-working volunteers who keep this garden looking great!

Stay tuned for updates on this winter project!

The Osmanthus of Gaiety Hollow

Osmanthus or tea olives are outstanding small evergreen trees and shrubs in the Oleacea family. Gaiety Hollow is home to one particularly outstanding specimen of Osmanthus x fortunei that Edith and Elizabeth planted in the mid-1960’s. It’s a fall bloomer with flowers so fragrant you can smell the blossoms all down the alley on a calm, cool morning.

The plant is named for Robert Fortune (1812-1880), the intrepid Scottish botanist best known for his exploits of stealing tea plants (Camellia sinensis) from China and smuggling them to India on behalf of the British East India company in the mid-1800’s. He introduced this hybrid of Osmanthus fragrans and Osmanthus heterophyllus in 1858. During his three years in China, Robert Fortune sent thousands of plants back to the British Isles in Wardian cases. These were glass terrariums filled with plants and sealed so the plants would survive the long ocean journey back to England.

It’s not surprising that throughout the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, Edith and Elizabeth tried quite a few different Osmanthus in the garden, as these stately shrubs and small trees would have met their many design requirements  including extreme fragrance, glossy evergreen foliage, screening capability, elegant structure and varied habit from shrub to small tree.

Records show Edith and Elizabeth grew Osmanthus armatus, fragrans, illicifolius and delavayi, as well as x fortunei and heterophyllus over the years. If you don’t grow Osmanthus in your garden you should…there is a species or cultivar to fit any size garden. In my home garden, I have the smaller Osmanthus delavayi and Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘purpureus‘, and after experiencing the wonderful tree form that Edith and Elizabeth planted so many years ago, I think I’ll be adding Osmanthus x fortunei to my planting list.



A Generous Donation from the Rogerson Clematis Garden to the Lord and Schryver Conservancy

If you have been following the blog and the goings-on of the Lord and Schryver Conservancy, you know that a funding from a generous donor enabled the restoration the Deepwood’s Lower Terrace and Grape Arbor this past spring. Although the hardscaping and Arbor were completed, we decided to wait until fall to replace the vines that historically graced this structure. Last Friday, I visited the Rogerson Clematis Garden in hopes of locating several clematis varieties that records show were used by Edith and Elizabeth.

I was fortunate enough to time the trip to run into Linda Beutler, the curator of the clematis collection. I showed Linda the historical records I had on the clematis that were planted at Deepwood long ago. Linda was familiar with Deepwood as she had taken a group of National Clematis Convention participants on a tour of Deepwood some time ago. She wasted no time in compiling a list of possible clematis candidates, selecting several appropriate varieties and generously donated them to the project!

What an amazing gift from a generous horticulturalist, teacher and author who took the time to go through lists of old cultivars with me. Linda even explained some of the name changes that have taken place over the years. Thank you, Linda, for helping select plants that reflect Edith and Elizabeth’s work at Deepwood.

If you haven’t been to the Rogerson Clematis Garden, it is more than worth the trip:  I visited in October and there were dozens if not hundreds of species and varieties still in bloom, but Linda tells me that the peak bloom time to visit is July. I hope to put together a field trip next year for our garden volunteers so we can all personally thank Linda for the generous donation, helping to make the restoration of another Lord and Schryver garden a reality.


Egan Gardens and Lord and Schryver

We had a very special visitor in the garden this past summer.  Ellen Egan, the owner of Egan Gardens visited Gaiety Hollow for the first time!

In 1875, the Egan family established a farm on the deep Amity silt loam soils just west of the tiny hamlet of Brooks, Oregon. Later in the 1950’s, Bill Egan, Ellen’s father, started a nursery on the property.  Later still, Ellen took over operations from her father and has continued to run a wonderful nursery business on the same property as the old farmstead.

Elizabeth and Edith started buying plants at Egan Gardens in the 1950’s. Records show that they were frequent customers throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, purchasing a variety of dahlias, cineraria, alyssum, hydrangeas, petunias and marigolds. However, it appears that Edith and Elizabeth were particularly fond of Egan’s premium quality geraniums.

Ellen Egan in the garden

Ellen Egan at Gaiety Hollow-Photo by Mary Anne Spradlin

egans gardens signs

The Lord and Schryver Conservancy has kept this long running relationship alive to this day. Visitors to Gaiety Hollow this past summer would have admired the many Egan-grown alyssum and salvia in the Parterre garden.

Over time, it seems that many mom and pop, brick and mortar stores have gone by the wayside. We are proud of the long-running relationship we have with this fine local grower. Supporting local businesses is one of the best ways to keep our local economy strong and thriving.

We hope to see Ellen in the garden more often. We look forward to shopping through  her wonderfully stuffed hoop houses for garden offerings come spring, just as Edith and Elizabeth did many years ago.


Katydids and the Temperature

Did you know that you can tell the temperature by listening to the crickets and katydids chirping at night?

In 1897, A tufts professor named A.E. Dolbear published a paper showing that the rate of chirping of crickets and katydids varies with changes in temperature. His math equations for this phenomena became known as Dolbears law. Interestingly enough, it is thought he derived much of his data from a woman named Margarette W. Brooks who in 1881 published a report titled,  “Influence of temperature on the chirp of the cricket” in Popular Science Monthly.

Board member and volunteer gardener Mary Anne Spradlin, brought in a Fork tailed Bush Katydid for ID this week and it got me thinking about how the night time temperatures are dropping and while there is perhaps a bit more urgency in the crickets and Katydids chirps with the advancing of the season, the rate at which they are chirping is certainly slowing down in the evenings.

In case you are laying awake at night and want to factor in the temperature by counting the chirps outside your bedroom window, here is the equation:

T = 60+[(N-19)/3]

N being the number of chirps in a minute

T being the temperature




Scudderia furcata, Fork Tailed Bush Katydid, found in the Gaiety Neighborhood.

The First Day of Autumn

Welcome to the first day of Autumn. The open garden season has come to an end at Gaiety Hollow. The days will soon begin to shorten and the flowers to fade as Old Man Winter gets ready to make his entrance. This is the time of year when we start to lose daylight at a rapid pace, with daylight decreasing by approximately 3 minutes each day as we head towards the holiday season. Some great flowers are still hanging on in the garden, with several spurred into renewed life by the cooler nighttime temperatures.

As we transition into autumn, we will be doing the obligatory leaf pickup as they start to fall. This is also a good time for propagation, and we will take cuttings of some of the woody species to root over winter. The tree peony by the Grape Arbor set seed this year, so we will try to get that germinated and growing. Collecting seeds from the popular annuals and perennials to offer interested gardeners will be another fall activity.

A big thank you to all the docents who made this open garden season possible! We hope you get some rest over the fall and winter months so you will come back refreshed for our 2020 spring season opener!


Return of the Horticulture Book Club


As the weather starts to cool and the days shorten, we look forward to reconvening our Horticulture Book Club…and invite you to join us!

Our book club is a casual, yet serious reading group driven by the interests of our members. We read general interest horticulture books chosen by the members of the group. Our meetings include some lively conversation, an opportunity to make new friends and a snack.

We meet in the living room at Gaiety Hollow, located at 545 Mission Street SE, Salem. Our first meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 10 from 5:30 – 7:00 pm.  We will continue to meet on the second Tuesday of each month through next March, when we head outside once again with our gardening gloves!

No book has been assigned for the September meeting. Hopefully, you have read, or are reading something that you would like to share with the group. Perhaps you found a good read over the summer and could give us a short review.  One member will tell us about The Botany of Desire, a classic she is reading now. We will then discuss which books we want to pursue as a group for both October and November.

If you are interested in joining our Horticulture Book Club, or need more information, please contact Ruth Roberts at or (503) 581-0774.


The Summer Garden at Gaiety Hollow

The summer parterre at Gaiety Hollow is blooming away as we head into the middle of August. This being my first summer here, I’ve learned a few lessons that I thought I would share. Lucky for me this has been a pretty mild summer compared to some of the last ones. The increased humidity has led to a few issues with common fungal diseases. I treat powdery mildew by using micronized sulfur dust in a spray solution with an added drop of dish soap which helps the solution adhere to the leaves. Sulfur leaves a thin powdery yellow film, so one must pick his/her battles between treating unsightly mildew and the sulfur residue.  A positive with sulfur is that it is much less toxic than many commonly available garden fungicides.

One lesson learned is how hot and dry the edges of the parterre garden become. The porous bricks not only suck moisture from the planting beds, but also gather heat throughout the day, radiating it at night. This makes it difficult for cooler-loving edging plants like Bellis Daisies to last all summer.  I assume Lord and Schryver would have lifted these plants and placed them in a shady spot in the Reserve Garden for the summer, planting them back out again when the cool weather returned in the fall. We are hoping that restoration of the Reserve Garden this fall will allow us to make that area a more usable space much like it was when the ladies were gardening here.


The drying garden in mid-August, the exposure of this garden with the large Viburnum makes for an easy to manage bed as it gets a nice afternoon shade respite from the summer sun.


Heat-loving annuals like Guara, Chinese Asters and African Daisies stand out proudly in the baking hot portions of the Parterre.


A new introduction to the Parterre this year, the Glamini Gladiolus ‘Lia’ does not require staking.


A nice rebloom of Delphiniums is coming on as we hit the middle of August.