The Berry Botanical Garden, Part 1

The Oregonian recently had an article about the Berry Botanical Garden. The Garden, located in Dunthorpe, a few miles out of Portland, harbors rare plants collected for almost a hundred years. It is a botanical treasure of the region. Because of financial exigencies, it will be closing down soon, giving its rare seed collection to Portland State. The land, 6 acres of high value property in a high-end suburb, will probably be sold.  So before it closed, we took a trip out to see it. It’s not easy to find, and it’s open by appointment only, but the staffers are friendly and, I suspect, very protective of their treasures. The garden was the work of Rae Selling Berry (1881- 1976.)  She was a plant collector, scouring the Oregon mountains for rare rhododendrons, primula, and alpine plants that were in danger of going extinct. When she died, a non-profit foundation bought the estate, but now must close it down.

Wikipedia has a fine article on the Garden and Rae Selling Berry’s collections, as well as a couple of good photos, so I won’t rehearse that here. But I’m always astonished to find that in the midst of urban traffic and clutter, there exist havens of douglas furs, spring fed ravines, and lovingly maintained, wild and definitely exciting gardens. The Berry is one of those.

First it was a sunny day. In January. This in itself is noteworthy.

Second, there were flowers in bloom: anemones, Viburnum, and witch hazel:

As a kid from hill country in Pennsylvania, seeing flowers bloom in January is more amazing to me than seeing than aliens. And much pleasanter. More on the Berry Botanical Garden in the next post. –June

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4 Responses to The Berry Botanical Garden, Part 1

  1. Velma Troup says:

    Education is certainly a vital field, because every thing in the world is determined by education and learning. I saw that on a website someplace — a non-profit organization in the Philippines. Teachers bust their tail at their craft (most of them, anyway). But there are several who appear to have a gift to inspire. My senior high school world history teacher was one particular. She had lived in China as a child. When she taught in Rockville, Maryland, you could possibly feel the wisdom of all her experience. She didn’t have us memorize dates. That had been the first really good thing I had heard from a history teacher. What she said next took the subject several magnitudes higher in value. She wanted us to know the motivations of history — the deeply visceral, human areas of what can otherwise be a deadly dry subject. Jaime Escalante of “Stand and Deliver” fame, dared to dream big. Calculus for the typically dropout crowd? Pushing them to go on to college? Wow. And I’ve this book called, “Calculus Made Easy,” by Sylvanus P. Thompson, first published in 1910. It’s been through dozens of printings all to generate an uncomplicated subject simple. What are we able to do to create more teachers who inspire world-changing brilliance? Einstein once said that imagination is much more important than knowledge. Knowledge can provide you with the foundation. Imagination usually takes you to the stars. Don’t our children deserve better?


  2. Gerrie says:

    I should have gone today, but I am dealing with sinus vertigo and am not moving much.


  3. june says:

    I’m not sure when it will close, Gerrie. We’re hoping it lasts long enough to get back during rhodie blooming season — the rhodies are scattered throughout the acreage, but there’s a wondrously wierd patch that seems to be the official spot for them. They also have a blue poppy section (really hard stuff to grow). I didn’t spot any primrose but the sections of the garden are quite varied (water lilies in the bog) and well-identified. I think a sunny day, though, helped a lot. It might have been depressing if it had been wet and cold.


  4. Gerrie says:

    I agree on the blooms in January!! I would love to visit this garden Do you know when it will close?


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