The Willamette Valley is known for growing amazing pinot noir grapes, but did you know that the soil on the valley floor is actually too fertile for really great wine; we plant our grape vines on the hillsides with rocky soil that encourages the vine roots to dig down 30 or more feet which brings all the complexities into an amazing Pinot Noir. So what to do with all this fertile valley soil? Grow flowers, of course! Here are six beautiful Willamette Valley flower gardens to visit after your waking up at Chehalem Ridge B&B and enjoying your gourmet breakfast.
Let us introduce you to five gardens in the Willamette Valley that are commercial growers of a specific flower and one that celebrates Oregon. These commercial farms grow acres and acres of their specialty flower in order to propagate and sell their bulbs, tubers and bare root plants for gardeners around the US. The bonus for Willamette Valley visitors is the month or so when they open their production gardens to us to wander among the colors, inhale the aroma, and take Instagram-worthy pictures.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
The Iverson family has been farming in this area since 1950, leaning into tulips in the 1970s. From the end of March through the beginning of May, visitors can wander through some of the 40 acres of production tulip fields showcasing some of the 100 varieties of tulips they propagate. They have cut flowers and potted bulbs for sale on site and they take orders for fall planting of tulips, daffodils and other plants. Guests enjoy wooden shoe making demonstrations, tethered hot air balloon rides, food vendors and more. Tickets with timed entries are necessary and can be purchased online.
Pro tip: plan for muddy fields and wind for this early spring garden adventure.
Schreiner’s Iris Gardens
North of Salem
The Schreiner family is now into the 4th generation of iris growing and hybridizing. Seeking a good climate and fertile soil for their iris cultivation and propagation, they settled in Oregon in 1947. Mid-May for about three weeks, they open daily for visitors. The 10 acres of display gardens showcase over 500 varieties of irises planted alongside other beautiful perennials and shrubs like Lupine, Delphinium and Elderberries. Weekends may have artist vendors and food trucks in addition to the cut flower and potted iris sales. The entrance fee is paid on-site.
Adelman Peony Garden
Adelman Peony Gardens – North of Salem
Another family with a deep Willamette Valley farming history, the Adelmans transitioned from crops like apples and peppermint to peonies in 1993. Now with 30 acres of mass plantings of more than 500 peony varieties, the production gardens are full of Instagram-worthy shots full of giant colorful blooms. They also maintain a 2-acre display garden with peonies interplanted with other spring-blooming beauties so you can imagine how you might plant them (unless you can plant a 50-foot long row of one variety, if you can do that, DO THAT). If you aren’t familiar with peonies, now is your chance to submerge yourself in this spring delight. Open May through mid-June daily. Entrance to the garden is free. They sell cut flowers and potted plants as well as take orders for bare root shipping in the fall.
Wayward Winds Lavender Farm
Wayward Winds Lavender Farm – Newberg
A mere half mile walk from the B&B, you can experience aromatherapy heaven at this lavender farm. Within approximately three acres, there are a variety of French and English lavender growing in production rows, test plots and even a meandering maze. From July through mid-August, the fields are open to U-pick lavender in addition to products made with their lavender. They have lavender honey, lavender spice blend, lavender biscuit mix, lavender lotion, lavender bath salts, lavender dryer sachets, lavender keyboard wrist rests… if it can be lavenderized, you can find it in their little shop. Entrance to the farm is free with lots of opportunities for beautiful photos. Wayward Winds Lavender also hosts classes like painting in the fields, growing lavender, yoga and more.
Swan Island Dahlias
Swan Island Dahlias – Canby
Wrapping up the summer is the showy dahlia. In almost 50 acres of production fields and display gardens, Swan Island Dahlias display the beauty of more than 370 dahlia varieties. From the bigger-than-your-head “dinner plate” sized blooms to the wee little pom pom blooms, there’s a dahlia for everyone and it can be found here. The fields are open with free admission August and September (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) with cut flowers available for purchase as well as ordering for spring shipping.
The Oregon Garden
The Oregon Garden – Silverton
On 80 acres outside the quaint town of Silverton, The Oregon Garden grew from an idea in the 1940s to its groundbreaking in 1997 to slowly growing 20 specialty gardens highlighting the nursery industry in Oregon as well as native plants. Some of the specialty gardens include a water garden using (and researching with OSU) wastewater recycling, a 400-year old oak savannah, a Lewis & Clark Garden featuring botanicals documented by the Corps of Discovery, a Northwest Garden and a conifer garden. It is open daily with a café, gift shop and retail nursery on site. Live music and other events are held throughout the year. Just outside the gates is The Gordon House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oregon, with guided ticked tours available.
Bonus Gardens: Portland Gardens
Portland is home to several public gardens; these three are internationally recognized for their designs, plantings and beauty.
International Rose Test Garden within Washington Park is open daily with more than 10,000 rose bushes in over 610 varieties on nearly seven acres. Established in 1924, this is one of the gardens in the US that tests new varieties for the American Garden Rose Selections and is a big part of why Portland’s nickname is The Rose City. Open daily with no admission fee.
Lan Su Chinese Garden, one of our newer gardens, was built in 2000. It is contained within one walled city block in the historic (but small) Chinatown district of NW Portland. The paths and garden rooms built around the man-made lake provide an expansive bigger-on-the-inside feel to a visitor’s experience. Open daily with tickets online or on site.
Portland Japanese Garden is built on the hilltop above the Rose Gardens west of Portland. Opened in 1967, the Garden has grown over time, now with 12 acres of eight unique garden spaces including the recently opened Cultural Village. Open Wednesday through Monday, tickets online or at the gate.
While the Willamette Valley commercial flower gardens are only open seasonally, there are many gardens and beauty year-round. Make plans to stay with us now based on the timing of your favorite flower, your gonna-be favorite flower or just nature! You can even go wine tasting near each of these garden adventures!