The American Rhododendron Society Test Garden at Portland Oregon
by C. I. Sersanous, President of the ARS
Fig 19 Aerial view of newly acquired ARS Test
Gardens at Crystal Springs Lake, Portland Oregon
Portland, Oregon the last of three cities currently selected for the establishment of Test Gardens for use by the American Rhododendron Society, non members and nurserymen, will shortly be ready to accept Rhododendrons and Azaleas for test purposes. This unusual Test Garden contains better than two acres and is approximately two hundred seventy feet in width and six hundred feet in length. It is known as Crystal Springs Lake Island (Fig. 19) and is connected with a causeway to the mainland.
As a part of the Public Parks system of the City of Portland, it will be operated jointly by the Parks Department and a Portland Committee of the American Rhododendron Society. Located on the East Moreland municipal golf links at S. E. 28th Avenue between Carlton and Martin Streets, it will be easily accessible from any part of the City by auto and trolley transportation. The East Moreland trolley stopping at S. E. 28th at Bybee, is two blocks from the entrance. Auto transportation via S. E. 28th Avenue from the North and East, or the Bybee Avenue viaduct over McLoughlin Boulevard from the South West and North.
Adjacent and to the East is Reed College, and the beautiful environments of that institution and the surrounding homes make for an ideal location. To the East, South, and West are the beautiful homes of East Moreland and the splendid recreational facilities of the Parks Department of the City of Portland. Ideally located, it should be in time an attractive spot, not only for the citizens of Portland but to state and out of state visitors, many of whom have never seen a rhododendron in all its glory of bloom.
Crystal Springs Lake Island is a natural island surrounded by Crystal Springs Lake which is in turn fed by natural springs gushing forth pure crystal clear water from underground at S. E. 28th Avenue. It is one of the phenomena of Portland. The entire island is fringed with native species of trees rendering open shade and ample sunshine; with a body of water making for a cool, moist climate, all of which goes to furnish ideal growing conditions for both rhododendrons and azaleas, summer and winter.
The plants to be grown under test in this Garden will naturally be of small size. However, it is anticipated many large specimen rhododendrons and azaleas, both species and hybrids, will be donated from gardens which perhaps are being overcrowded. Such donations are respectfully solicited from growers and collectors and nurserymen, which will further beautify the Garden and bring about greater interest.
The property has been enclosed with a steel ornamental fence, and upon planting with the advent of fall rains and cooler weather. the gates will be closed and then open to the public only on certain hours of the day. This to be determined by the Superintendent of the Public Parks and the Portland American Rhododendron Society Committee.
At a later date it is expected that a showing of plants growing in their natural environment will be held from year to year on the premises, and open to amateurs and growers alike.
The testing of rhododendrons and azaleas in general will be open to any gardener or nurseryman, subject to the rules prescribed by the Committee on Nomenclature and Registration of the American Rhododendron Society. Quarterly Bulletin Vol. 3, No. 4, Oct. 15. 1949. Full information may be had by writing to the Secretary of the Society, Mrs. Ruth M. Hansen, Portland, Oregon.
A system of awards has been established to grant recognition of worthy new varieties to the growers who have produced them. The Awards Committee for Portland has been appointed and will consist of H. H. Harms, Portland, as Chairman; D. W. James, Eugene; P. H. Brydon, Salem; E. R. Peterson; and George D. Grace, Portland. All of the above are well qualified to judge any specimen offered for testing.
Portland and the American Rhododendron Society also has a Rhododendron Park located on S. W. Terwilliger Boulevard near the U. S. Veterans Hospital and which is undeveloped. Due to economic conditions and with the excessive costs of developing such a project, and with the immediate needs for a Test Garden it was thought advisable by the Board of Directors to develop the Crystal Springs Lake property at this time. The Rhododendron Park project is therefore postponed until economic conditions are such that costs for development will be lower.
It is to be hoped that individuals or groups will take advantage of the opportunity to build up a fund large enough to develop the Rhododendron Park on Terwilliger Blvd., which was obtained by the Society through the keen interest and generosity of Mrs. C. S. Jackson and her family.