Progress is being made on the historic rose gardens at the Philip Foster Farm in Eagle Creek, near Estacada, in Clackamas County, Oregon. The farm was the original destination of the Barlow Road, an early spur of the Oregon Trail. Philip Foster and Sam Barlow built the road around Mt. Hood in 1846, giving pioneers an alternative to the treacherous passage down the Columbia River on their way into the Willamette Valley.
The Foster Farm grounds have been designed with informal cottage gardens. We are now adding “roses with a history” to these gardens. After much sleuthing around the general area for old roses, and spending many hours in museums, libraries, and living rooms gathering stories, the Rose Ramble is beginning to take shape.
Six of our pioneer roses have been planted, beginning at the entrance kiosk, and continuing through the grounds to conclude at the old house site in the far corner of the farm. The on-site blacksmiths and their students have been busy designing markers that will share the rose stories.
Many of the roses are still in the “cuttings” stage, and need more time to develop good roots; others have not yet been cut, and still more are waiting to be discovered. These roses are primarily from the Donation Land Claims in the general vicinity served by the historical society centered at the Philip Foster Farm, and are helping to tell the history of the area.
This vigorous rose was planted by Mary Ann Stormer more than 150 years ago on the original Stormer land claim. The twelve-foot long arching canes are a glorious sight in late spring when the “once bloomer” is covered in pink roses with bright yellow stamens.
Anna Johnston’s blush pink rose stands beside by the front steps of the Victorian home that was hand-built by her husband, using trees growing on the property. Andrew Johnston built it in 1899, after seeing a magazine photo that featured a Queen Anne home with its steep roof, spindles, and towers. He turned the spindles on his own lathe for the gingerbread trim. This charming summer blooming rose will delight visitors at the Rose Ramble.
The exciting new rose history project is spearheaded by Northwest Rose Historian Gerri Morse. A long time resident of the area, Gerri has been interested in pioneer heritage and local history, and has been an old garden rose advocate, for decades. Her overflowing repository of “saved” roses has provided many of the historic roses already planted and dedicated by Northwest Rose Historians in a variety of locations.
Gerri is planting a hedge of roses grown from discarded pruned canes from The End of the Trail Pioneer Garden in Oregon City. The Rose Ramble hedge will be dedicated to plant historian and folklorist Erica Calkins. Ms. Calkins was active in local pioneer rose preservation, and planted the Oregon City garden in 1993, in conjunction with the Oregon Sesquicentennial. Ms. Calkins’ book, Hatchet, Hands and Hoe: Planting the Pioneer Spirit (Caxton Press, 1996), is a treasure trove of fascinating folklore and pioneer plant usage.
For information on visiting The Philip Foster Farm National Heritage Site, please see the website: www.philipfosterfarm.com