Plan of the Garden Tour
Sunday, May 12
S. Bethelsdorf, M.D.
Members who intend to make a tour of the gardens will assemble at the Multnomah Hotel and be ready to board a bus at 11:30 A.M. A minimal charge will be made on entering the bus to cover the cost of the transportation. It is suggested that members have a late breakfast so they may continue the tour without interruption for lunch. The bus will return the group to the Hotel on or about 3:00 P.M.
The first stop will be at the John Platt garden, laid on the grounds of an old farm and orchard first planted in the 1860s. Several of the century old apple trees are still standing, a tribute to the hardiness of the trees with the help of a cable or two in our recent battles with the winds. The house was built in 1941, and landscaping has been developing since then with a particular impetus in the planting since the 1955 freeze. Most of the Rhododendrons are early bloomers, though many should be seen still in flower at the time of the tour. The several fine Asiatic magnolias will also have finished flowering by that time, unfortunately. But here are some unusual conifers - a weeping Cedrus atlanticus , a weeping Pine and a weeping Sequoia. The Styrax , Stewartia and Eucryphia are very impressive. The arrangement of the garden is exceptionally well organized: it leads to more and more discoveries in passing, so that the visitor is tempted to go through again. It will be wise to take a note-book along as there are many unusual shrubs and arrangements well worth noting for future reference. Some shrubs have deserved special handling: the Tricuspidoria lanceolata was saved from the recent ice storm with the help of a zippered plastic coat especially tailored for the emergency.
The bus will take the group then to the James MacDonald garden. This house, built in 1910, had the good fortune of "inheriting" some fine native trees as the nucleus of the landscaping. This garden was given an unusual impetus in its development in 1952 or so. Here one will see a number of unusual specimens. There is a very fine, large Eucryphia , and an Albrizzia julibrissen , or "silk tree." Here is also a Camellia 'Hanagimen', a large, fragrant Sasanqua. The Chilean garden as well as the entrance to the garden have a story of origin all their own, and become a testimony of a determined and dedicated gardener.
The final garden tour, of Elk Rock, is about a hundred yards from the MacDonald home. This garden was planted by Peter Kerr about in the 1890s, and has developed with two or three particular drives, the first in 1915 or so, the last about 1960. The gardener has taken excellent advantage of the natural setting, the hillside, the brook, the plateau, the cliffs; the park took its name from the fact that Indians used to drive herds of elk in a panic over the cliff. In this garden one sees an abundance of Madrona, Vine maple and Firs as well as other natives at their best. It had been thought the Erythronium and Fritillaria were native there, as they have filled the hillside; but recently Mrs. Platt, on going over some old correspondence of 1911 discovered an order of these lilies, which took so well to the environment that they seemed at home. Here one will see unusually fine Rhododendrons in their mature state, impressive in their wood, leaf and form as well as their flower. Magnolias as well as other rare trees are seen in their full size M. frazeri , M. campbellii and M. dawsoniana with its covering of blossoms are only a few of the large collection.
These gardens deserve repeated visits throughout the year, as they are well planted with the intent of giving a reward at any season. There is much to see in each. For the more hardy visitor who wants to see more of Elk Rock, it will be of interest to know that the garden will still be open Sunday to the public after the tour.