Giving Back to Our Community

When we learned that students in our neighborhood wouldn’t be going back to in-person classes this fall, we decided to do something to help make this year seem a bit more normal for these K-2nd grade students.

For six Wednesdays, we invited students to experience horticulture, science, and art in the garden. They conducted plant experiments, learned about native and invasive plants, studied wildife, and even dissected trout! It was all smiles as we made painted salmon cutouts and built birdhouses at Gaiety Hollow, perhaps the best outdoor classroom a kid could ever ask for.

We lined up a wonderful assortment of guest eductors, conducted horticultural experiments, learned how to do plant propagation, went on a field trip to a wetland, met a biologist, saw a real beaver dam, and had a great time doing it all.

In the first class, students began an experiment. Each student planted two pots of sugar snap peas, one pot with seeds pre-soaked in water for 24 hours, and the other with dry peas straight from the packet. Each week the students measured and recorded the growth of the peas in both pots. As younger students, they learned some basic skills with this little experiment, including writing the date, using a ruler to make measurements, and most importantly gathering data to make scientific observations.

This pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, but students who are just setting out on the journey of learning and socialization are arguably the ones who will suffer the greatest if they don’t receive a solid foundation in science and environmental awareness.

Working with these kids gives me a hope for the future. No matter how bleak it may seem with the downplaying of science in today’s politics, a day will come when the next generation has more influence. They are learning how it all works and I feel confident they will apply this knowledge towards remedying some of the problems we face today.

A big thank you goes out to the parents who helped with the weekly classes, Chet Zenone for providing the wooden salmon and birdhouse kits, the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District for providing educators, Laurie Aguirre and the City of Salem water team for helping with the field trip and trout dissection, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for the biology tour of the Fairview Wetlands, and Pam Wasson for her leadership in creating a safe and socially-distanced experience for the students.

Have a safe week.


Readying the Garden for Winter

“No winter lasts forever; No spring skips it’s turn.” – Hal Borland

It has been a busy October at the Lord & Schryver Conservancy! We partnered with local educators, scientists and conservationists to provide a weekly workshop for a group of K -2nd graders from the neighborhood. Then, Robert and his crew from Riverdale Landscape Construction tackled the soil drainage issue in the West Allee. Last week, our dedicated volunteer gardeners planted 600 tulip bulbs for Spring 2021’s show. And finally, mountains of mulch were moved to ready the beds for a long winter’s nap.

As we head into winter, tool will be cleaned, handles oiled for another season, equipment stowed away, and the tool shed organized. Planning for next year’s flower show and studying the recently completed Treatment Plan to restore elements in the garden that have changed over time are on the winter to do list. Although the fence repair is ongoing, the summer’s hard work has paid off with most of the Reserve Garden’s restored panels ready to hang. This elaborate fence work adds so much character to Lord & Schryver’s garden designs.

The old espaliered Camellia sasanqua by Gaiety Hollow’s backdoor in early November.

The pandemic, together with the recent political situation, has made this one of the strangest gardening seasons I have experienced in my 25-year professional horticulture career. But I’m thankful for a hardy group of dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly this season, often in less than ideal conditions, to help maintain and beautify the Lord & Schryver gardens.

Thank you all for a great season of gardening at the Lord & Schryver Conservancy!


The Big Rotary Club of Salem Fall Cleanup at Deepwood

We had the most amazing group of Rotarians show up to volunteer at Deepwood for two Wednesdays in a row this month. The group began by laying fresh gravel on all the pathways at Deepwood.

The Rotary crew hard at work spreading gravel on the footpaths around the gardens.

The following Wednesday, Rotarians returned to place wood chips in the native plant beds around the Scroll Garden. The Parks Department had an inmate crew remove the invasive species in these beds before the Rotary volunteers showed up, so we had a nice clean area to mulch.

Many hands make light work so the old saying goes. Some volunteers showed up two Wednesdays in a row to help get Deepwood in shape for the winter.

Finally, the group spread compost around the azaleas and ferns above the lower walk. The results were dramatic! Altogether, Rotarians spread 9 yards of gravel, 8 yards of wood chips and 3 yards of compost. A monumental task for one person, but quickly accomplished by a great group of fun, energetic volunteers.

Rotarians hard at work shoveling wood chips.
One of the most dramatic areas of the cleanup project is the native scaped area between the Scroll Garden and the lower walk.

Adding wood chips and mulch to the native plant beds will help us control the invasive plant species. Also, the newly graveled footpaths will provide a cleaner, safer experience for Deepwood visitors.

We are so grateful to the Rotary Club of Salem, especially Rotarian Adam Kohler for organizing this event. A big thank you to the Parks Department for providing the necessary tools and materials, and Deepwood staff for helping coordinate this large group effort.

Deepwood’s Bigleaf maple in fall.

As we wrap up the gardening season, we can enjoy the colors of the fall and prep the garden beds for flower bulb planting. Then we get to settle in for the long wait for spring.

Scroll Garden in the spring.

Stay well,


Fall Happenings in the Garden


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.

Chet Zenone using one of his custom-made jigs to align the 50+ pieces of lath that comprise the upper section of the Reserve Garden fence panel. Each fence section is unique in size and dimension and it takes a skilled craftsman with an artist’s touch to recreate it.

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.


The Great Salem Boxwood Trials

I have written before about the perils of Boxwood blight, a deadly fungal disease caused by Calonectria pseudonaviculata that is infecting boxwood in Salem. We have been very proactive in avoiding this disease in the garden; however, this has required frequent fungicide applications from spring through fall.

Boxwood is deeply integral to the design at Gaiety Hollow, Deepwood and other surviving Lord & Schryver gardens. The loss of these character defining shrubs would be devastating to the overall aesthetic. There is no cure for boxwood blight, only preventative measures to try to keep it out of the garden, and fungicide applications to keep it from infecting plants.

Fall at Gaiety Hollow. Boxwood adds year-round interest.

The best option is to plan ahead by identifying suitable replacement plants that are pest and disease resistant, drought-tolerant, hardy, and lower maintenance. Ideal replacements must also perform well as a structural hedge. To that end, we are starting to trial several different plants.

Lonicera pileata, the box honeysuckle

Lonicera pileata, with its low, spreading habit reaching 3 feet tall, is a potential replacement. Originally from China, it has small lemon-scented, fragrant flowers attractive to pollinators. With its deep green leaves, drought tolerance, and pest and disease resistance, it checks all the required boxes.

Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’

Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’, a small-leaved form of Japanese holly, offers many redeeming characteristics. It tolerates drought, shade, air pollution, poor soils, and clay soils. It can be hedged tightly to maintain the desired boxwood look.

Boxwood provides the framework to Lord & Schryvers masterful designs.

Additional plants will be added to the trial as we move forward. Our knowledgeable volunteer gardeners had some great suggestions:

Ilex vomitoria, Yaupon Holly

Lonicera nitida, Wilson’s Honeysuckle

Ilex glabra, Inkberry Holly

Several boxwood varieties have shown some level of boxwood blight resistence. However, since the disease is so established in the nursery trade at this point, we won’t be bringing in any boxwood from outside sources.

Stay tuned as we add plants to the trials!


A Week of Devastation

Our hearts go out to those affected by the devastating wildfires in the Santiam Canyon. As many of you know, I grew up here and attended Cascade High School, not far from the Santiam River where it flows out of the Canyon and into the pastoral farms and fields between the hamlets of Aumsville and Turner. I know many people who lost everything in the fires as many of my classmates lived and worked in that area.

I spent many summers up in the Canyon fishing with my Dad, resulting in my lifelong love of the pursuit. We had a favorite fishing spot just outside of the town of Idanha that was always good for a stringer full of rainbow trout. The season opener each May found us among the towering Doug firs, delicate vine maples, and verdant ferns that lined the river canyon. Many a day was spent jumping off the cliffs at Elkhorn into the clear, cold waters of the Little North Fork with friends during those endless childhood summers. I’m thankful for those memories.

We lost some historical icons in these fires that are irreplaceable.

In June, 1929, Dr. Skiff asked Lord & Schryver to provide a design plan for the resort. Their detailed Landscape Development Plan of Breitenbush Resort tract divided the space into 5 areas. Visit our storymap to learn about Lord & Schryver’s work at the hot springs. Scroll to garden #27.

Lord & Schryver’s plan for Breitenbush Resort and Hot Springs
Breitenbush Hot Springs Hotel

Sadly, reports say the Historic lodge and soaking pools were mostly destroyed in the recent massive wildfires, despite valiant efforts by the firefighters.

Although several buildings were reportedly saved, much of Brietenbush now looks like this.

Another devasting loss of historical value was the Thetford Lodge, the summer home of Charles A. Sprague, someone that Edith and Elizabeth may have known socially.

Charles A. Sprague was the 22nd Governor of Oregon (1939-1943) as well as the longtime editor of the Oregon Statesman Journal.

After his death, Sprague donated the Lodge to Willamette University. When my sister was a recruiter for Willamette’s Atkinson School of Business, she was able to reserve the lodge for several days each year, often on the Thanksgiving Holiday. Once while visiting, I found a signed copy of Chet Atkin’s greatest hits on vinyl inscribed “To Mr. Sprague, thank you for the wonderful accommodations, Chet.” We will always have cherished memories of Thetford Lodge.

My family at Thetford Lodge.
Students, faculty and friends of Willamette University enjoyed Sprague’s beautiful riverside lodge throughout the years.
Sadly, most of the Little North Fork was badly burned in the Beachie Creek fire.

Although we can’t bring back these historical icons of the Santiam Canyon, going forward I hope we make smart decisions about the environmental changes happening right in front of our eyes.

With deepest sympathies for those who have lost,


Late Summer At Gaiety Hollow

From Elizabeth Lord’s Garden Journal:

August 20, 1936

“Returned from Seal Rock on 15th; garden looked pretty good. Harlan did watering, outskirts not well done – on the whole not so bad.

Big hole back of white lilac. Delphinium not grown. Place Iris there.

Main walk not bad. Purple Petunias. Flesh Zinnia pumila & [Zinnia elegans] ‘Polar Bear’. Gladiolus. Another year try – blue Ageratum, Pink Zinnias or Yellow and White Petunia. Believe stock could be planted in Reserve garden for picking.”

Pink Zinnias, Blue Ageratum, and Purple Petunias in the Gaiety Hollow garden today. It’s fun to try to picture the garden as it would have appeared in 1936.
The Delpinium rebloom is a late summer treat.

One really can’t blame Elizabeth and Edith for escaping Salem’s summer heat for the cool ocean breezes.

The late summer flower walk this year with a nod to the journal entries of the 1930’s. The second bloom on the Delphiniums together with colorful heat-loving Cosmos and Zinnias have provided a steady show. Visitors are drawn to the Annabelle Hydrangea with her oversized pom-poms as well as the large Dahlias.

Ruth Roberts recently shared a gardening gem passed along by Fran Duniway, who advised “Look for the softest of yellows as they go with almost any color in the garden.” You can see how the Shasta Daisy’s soft yellow works better than the harsh yellow of the Zahara Zinnia.

I love mining knowledge and advice from older, more seasoned gardeners. Early in my career I worked beside Jack Poff, Mrs. Berry’s longtime gardener. Jack often rambled on about Mrs. Berry’s persnickty gardening ways. I learned it to my advantage to let Jack ramble on as I always picked up a nugget of advice. That ability to extract little nuggets of knowledge has served me well throughout my career. Like the Greek philosopher Diogenes said, “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.”

Pale yellow Marigold ‘Kilimanjaro White’ fills the late summer border, complementing the Zinnias. Many visitors have asked about this flower at both Gaiety Hollow and Deepwood.

As the busy work in the garden starts to wind down, we look forward to cooler autumn temperatures as we begin the fall cleanup process. In the meantime, we enjoy the many blossoms and fruits of our spring and early summer labor.


The Tulip Famine of 1944

After vacation, it was back to work finishing up the fall bulb orders for Deepwood and Gaiety Hollow. I had one European company tell me that some bulbs are in short supply this year. This may be due to the early Covid-19 lockdown in Europe and reduced international air travel.

Here is an interesting anecdote from my recent catalog research on recreating Gaiety Hollow’s 1956 historic bulb planting plan. I noticed that Wayside Garden’s 1944 catalog had a tiny quarter-page listing for tulips. In contrast, the years before and after had pages and pages of the ubiquitous bulbs so loved by Edith and Elizabeth.  

The 1944 Wayside catalog lists only 10 tulip varieties.

It so happens that during the last winter of World War II, the Allied forces participated in the failed Operation Market Garden, otherwise known as the Battle of Arnhem. The Allies attempted to retake the area by the Dutch/German border utilizing paratroopers and ground forces. Ultimately, the Nazis stopped the Allies before the Rhine River, resulting in the deaths of 500 Dutch civilians, 15,000 allied troops and 8,000 Nazis.

The winter of 1944-45, later known as the Hongerwinter or “Dutch Hunger Winter”, found civilians in the famous bulb growing region facing starvation. The population was forced to live on rations of 400-800 calories per day; to survive, people ate grass and tulip bulbs. As the season’s tulip crop had not yet been planted, people turned to tulip bulbs as a carbohydrate-rich food source. Tulip bulbs were promoted by food agencies as a surrogate for potatos, and local newspapers shared recipes for tulip bulb soup, porridge, mashed tulip bulbs, vegetables with tulip bulbs, fried and roasted bulbs, and savory and sweet tulip bulb cookies. 

The spring tulip display at Gaiety Hollow
The 1956 Wayside catalog has dozens of pages of tulips

No matter how bad the current times seem, and even if we have a shortage of tulips this year for the garden display, I feel it’s important to take time to be thankful for what we do have. Times may be tough, but it’s not 1944 and we aren’t having to eat the tulips stored in the Gaiety Hollow garage for the coming planting season. I’m thankful to work at an organization with so many dedicated volunteers and under the leadership of a kind and thoughtful executive director and a board with diverse talents. I’m thankful for my health and the health of my family.   


Summer adventures

I took some time off last week and headed to the coast to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. While there, I took a side trip with my family to visit the Gerdemann Botanic Preserve, a hidden gem of a garden along the Central Oregon Coast just north of Yachats.

The garden was started in 1981 by Jim and Janice Gerdemann as a place to test the hardiness of rare and unusual plants. Jim was a renowned mycologist, with a PhD in plant pathology from UC Berkeley. He studied Rhododendrons as well as other unusually species with a focus on the interaction between mycorrhizae and plants.

After the Gerdemanns passed away, a portion of the property was put into a conservation easement with trails connecting to the neighboring national forest. The house and rest of the gardens are open by appointment only so while I missed them this visit, I plan to return next spring. What a great place to observe and study for those interested in preserving the gardens of Lord and Schryver.

What a way to preserve a garden legacy! The naturalistic areas are open to the public year-round, the manicured gardens may be viewed on docent led tours, and the home may be rented through Airbnb!

The large-leaved Rhododendrons, ferns and massive old growth Sitka spruce give an almost subtropical feel to the garden situated just a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean.
A bench in a nook filled with unusual plants.
Dad admiring a 300-year-old Sitka spruce. The plaque said it survived World War 1 logging operations that sent many of trees to the massive spruce mill at Fort Vancouver and eventually to the European war theater as airplane parts.

Assuming we are no longer sequestered at home in spring 2021, the Gerdemann Botanic Preserve will be on the volunteer gardeners’ field trip list!

Stay well,


Getting ready for fall.

With temperatures hitting nearly one hundred this week, many of us are yearning for fall. At the Lord and Schryver Conservancy, fall preparation is already underway. We work hard to share the designs of Lord and Schryver by recreating several each year. One area requiring significant prep work is our annual Tulip display.

Remember Gaiety Hollow’s wonderful, early Spring Tulip display planted after a 1934 plan? Recreating the annual flower bulb show takes months of planning, from the proper harvesting and storage of last year’s bulbs, to selecting one of Edith and Elizabeth’s planting plans, finding cultivars and color matches, and placing orders. For 2021, we will be recreating the 1956 bulb planting plan.

The 2020 spring bulb display at Gaiety Hollow.
Last year, bulbs were lifted, soaked in a sulfur solution, and then wrapped in burlap so the leaves had a chance to die back. Learn more about harvesting tulips in this blog post:

First, Tulip bulbs are graded by size, with the largest ones saved for replanting.
Next, bulbs are removed them from their burlap bags, re-sorted into (hopefully) flowering-sized bulbs, placed in brown paper bags with a teaspoon of sulfur dust to prevent mold and rot, and stored in a cool, dark location.
This fall we will recreate the 1956 bulb plan.

Each year brings a new challenge and a design to create. I will be busy pouring through some of the old flower bulb catalogs searching for the appropriate color, height, and character of the 1956 bulb plan to match it as closely as possible. We are lucky that Edith and Elizabeth kept such great records of their home garden displays.