The history of the rose is the history of humanity. These words from A Rose Odyssey written by J.H. Nichols in 1937, perfectly describe the French Prairie Heritage Rose Garden. This old rose repository conserves Oregon’s first blooms in displays arranged to interpret their historical significance. Comprehensive signage conveys connections between social culture, horticulture, and early settlers of the French Prairie, and the surrounding Willamette Valley in Oregon. This unique approach of telling history through the stories of roses engages by visually, intellectually, and emotionally connecting the visitor to the lives of early settlers. They see, touch, and smell living history while reading interpretative signage that relates a story connected with each rose. The garden is under construction in Brooks, Oregon, and will be completed in spring 2014.
Since 1986, the Brooks Historical Society (BHS) has been gathering local history by conducting oral interviews, collecting documents, photographs and artifacts of the area, and making these resources available to the public in an educational research library at their historic Depot Museum. The Society’s mission of preserving the past, while enriching the future, of their rural agricultural community is furthered by participation in the rose garden project. French Prairie and Willamette Valley families are contributing their Oregon Trail and other historic roses to the garden. The French Prairie Heritage Rose Garden will serve as a safe haven for these oldest roses, and the new educational archive in the Depot Museum will save the stories. This history is preserved for the next generations, and offers a unique experience for connecting present lives to living roots of the past. Greater awareness of the place of these treasured roses in history will help ensure that these oldest roses will continue to survive to tell their tales.
The garden is arranged in six collections. Throughout the rest of the year we will talk about the individual rose collections on this blog. Our immediate focus is construction of the garden. Every garden needs a place to sit and smell the roses, and this garden will have a beautiful pavilion design by architect, Michael Wellman of Silverton. Mr. Wellman generously donated his professional time to put our dreams into a buildable plan. The concrete foundation was sponsored by an 1892 Oregon Pioneer descendant, Claire McCarthy. A first class job was done with the concrete, and the next building phase will begin soon. Decorative support beams will be milled from cedar logs using historic equipment at the onsite volunteer-operated sawmill. Garden Galley Iron Works in Hubbard, is making beautiful rose cages to hold seven climbing roses. The eight-foot-tall rose cages are in progress at Garden Gallery’s custom iron-working shop. We will purchase a trellis from their huge selection of pre-made ornamental iron designs to support a recent rose acquisition. We are grateful for the deep discount from Garden Galley that allows us to beautify the garden with these necessary structural elements. Community support is instrumental, and is the driving force behind the successes of this project.
Antique Powerland Museum Association (APMA) is a campus of independent heritage museums that individually and collectively educate the public on the history and cultural significance of antique farm equipment, vehicles, and historic machinery with an emphasis on steam power. Brooks Historical Society saved the 1900 Southern Pacific Brooks Depot from the wrecking ball by moving the train station to the sixty-two acre Antique Powerland site at 3995 Brooklake Road NE, in Brooks in 1989. The garden is adjacent to a replica 1910 farmhouse that is the site’s caretaker residence, and a museum that will exhibit an old-fashioned kitchen and parlor.
Plan a visit to Willamette Heritage Center in Salem any time between March 1st through May 31st in 2014 to see an exhibit featuring the French Prairie Heritage Rose Garden. We are taking over the display cases in the orientation center that is the entrance to the Willamette Heritage Center-Mission Mill museum complex. Details will follow, so stay tuned!
Northwest Rose Historians wishes you a safe and happy Independence Day! In Portland, fireworks light up the skies over the Willamette River. Across the Columbia River is Ft. Vancouver, site of a Hudson Bay Company fur trading outpost, Est. 1824. The fire works from the Fort rival any in the nation. July 4th must have been a rowdy night when HBC Chief Factor Dr. John McLoughlin, fur trappers, HBC employees, and pioneers took to heart President John Adam’s 1776 request to celebrate “with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”