Marshall Lyons: March 10, 1906 - May 7, 1978
Carl Phetteplace, Eugene, OR
Anyone familiar with the early days of the Eugene Chapter of the society, or with the origin and development of the Eugene Hendricks Park Garden, must on visiting, soon be reminded of Marshall Lyons. At a time when few people in the area knew there were any rhododendrons other than our native
, Marshall became aware of James Barto growing thousands of plants from seeds he had received from many expeditions of plant hunters in Asia. In his visits to Barto, he became increasingly interested and knowledgeable; selecting for his own garden many choice varieties. One notable example was the beautiful six-petaled pink
subsequently named for his wife, Ruth Lyons. It has never been found from any other source.
Marshall was one of the founding members of the Eugene Chapter and, in its early days, often hosted the chapter meetings in his home.
At this time Hendricks Park was Eugene's 'mini zoo' where a few deer and elk were contained. Marshall was one of the two or three members who proposed that the chapter should have a project if it were to endure. He approached the City Parks Department proposing that the "zoo" be converted into a rhododendron garden and suggested that the city provide the labor and irrigation and that the chapter would provide the plants. This has proven to be a most satisfactory arrangement. He was the leader in plant contributions and over the years the general membership has provided thousands of beautiful plants.
Near the entrance to the garden is a huge 'Rosemary Chips', one of Marshall's first contributions. I think of this as a living memorial to Marshall Lyons. To him must be given a large measure of credit for the existence of what many have judged to be the finest rhododendron garden in the country. Certainly, he has made one small spot in this world better because he lived, loved and worked here; and that is about all any of us could hope to do in one lifetime.