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Best Spring Gardens

Published: May 01, 2022


Springtime gardens are full of green sprouts, buds and sweet surprises. As we eagerly await for flowers to bloom and skies to stay clear blue, we can still find joy in puddle jumping through these local treasures.

We've tramped around public parks, natural landscapes and preserves, wineries, lodging properties and nurseries looking for exquisite garden-like layouts with paths, manicured beds or wildlife sanctuaries, garden ornamentation or interpretive signage. Here are some of the best gardens for strolling during these temperamental spring months — and the best places for gardening inspiration too!

Pfeiffer Winery - Junction City

Along with bountiful grapes, the Pfeiffers have cultivated a beautiful "water garden" adjacent their wine tasting room and event pavilion. Open for special events or during tasting room hours, enjoy the little ponds and water features interlaced with manicured pathways and lush landscaping. If the sun is shining, enjoy a glass of wine in the garden; but if it is sprinkling you can always take cover in the spacious and elegant pavilion by the roaring fireplace! The joy of wine country in the spring is further enhanced by early daffodils blooming along the roadside and a visit to Camas Country Mill's bakery with its educational, potted exhibit of varying grains.

A lily blooms in the Pfeiffer Winery water garden.

Photo: Colin Morton / Eugene, Cascades & Coast

Hendricks Park - Eugene

Hendricks Park is a well-cared for showcase of the region's gorgeous rhododendrons and many other native plants. Always green and lush, with views of the cityscape, this garden park is delightful year-round. The rhododendrons peak in May, making that the most colorful month, but even before or after their voluptuous blooms, enjoy the varied hues of green and native plantings. The garden features large open lawns and level paths that adjoin steep and narrow paths crisscrossing the hillside. Woodsy trails connect to the garden area for those seeking a more vigorous hiking experience.

Delta Ponds - Eugene

Built around the natural Delta Ponds, this wetlands wildlife sanctuary has all the atmosphere of a wilderness garden. Wander the well kept paths around the ponds and over bridges to admire nature in its undisturbed state. This is an excellent destination for birding and wildlife watching as the water and shorelines are home to herons, geese, ducks, turtles, beavers, otters and nutria. Wheelchairs and strollers may manage fairly well on the flatter, smooth stretches of packed pathway.

Belknap Hot Springs Resort's Secret Garden - McKenzie River

Moss-covered, damp and mysterious, the "Secret Garden" at the Belknap Hot Springs Resort is worthy wander. Cycle or walk the riverfront hot springs resort's many paths and hiking trails through open meadows, past cabins and into dark woods to discover this stunning hidden oasis. Combine time in the garden with a soak in their hot springs-fed swimming pool for the perfect soul soothing escape. Make it a retreat and stay overnight in the lodge, a cabin or campsite.

Darlingtonia Wayside - Florence

An interpretive boardwalk overlooks an 18-acre natural preserve of carnivorous Darlingtonia, or "Cobra Lily". A rare flora that "eats" meat; the Darlingtonia attracts and traps insects, which dissolve inside its stalk and then are absorbed by the plant. This unusual flower is striking to observe year round, but in the spring it blooms with purplish petals for an even more dramatic appeal. A picnic table is onsite, so pack along a lunch (eating is the theme here) and take your time in contemplation as you gaze across this patch of insect doom!

Owen Rose Garden - Eugene

Still waking up in spring, the eight acre Owen Rose Garden may not yet have its trellis walk and pavilion enshrouded with blooms, its rose garden bursting with color or the historic cherry tree alight with blossoms; but all this is coming! April ushers in the first cherry blossoms, and in May early roses start to flourish. Walk the paths to soak up bird song, spot buds and sprouts and enjoy the glorious transformation, complete by summer. Combine an outing to the Owen Rose Garden with a bicycle ride along the river or lunch in downtown Eugene.

Pisgah Arboretum - Eugene 

The Mount Pisgah Arboretum is a natural preserve for a variety of native plants in a diversity of habitats which makes it an excellent shoulder season hiking destination. Rain or shine, the trails wind through meadows, oak savannas, woodlands and along the river. Some paths are steep, muddy and more challenging; others are flat and wide-open. Informative artwork makes the tour interactive, plus discover the experiential wetlands exhibit and the cedar exhibit — both formed through structures and interpretative stations.

Ruff Park & Magnolia Arboretum - Springfield

When the magnolia trees start to bloom in April, Ruff Park is a splendid place to visit. Over 400 magnolia trees comprise the ten-acre arboretum in addition to other ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers. The paved pathways provide an easy route for wheelchairs and strollers, along with keeping your feet mud-free during spring's rainy weather. There are picnic tables, interpretive signs and wide open lawns.

Ruff Park & Magnolia Arboretum by Chelsea Clarkson

Paved paths loop lined with numbered vegetation beds loop across the park.

Photo: Chelsea Clarkson / Willamalane

Garden Lake Park - Creswell

A pleasant dock is ideal for fishing and canoeing at Garden Lake Park, and the straightforward grounds have interpretive signage and picnic facilities. Visit the interpretative pavilion for a full display on the local flora and fauna that may be spotted across this 33 acre parkland. A memorial to the early pioneers that passed through this area is also located here. To make a garden stroll here perfect, pick up a picnic lunch from the nearby Creswell Bakery, a culinary destination for locals and visitors alike.

Alton Baker Park - Eugene

Alton Baker Park has many diverse elements to enjoy from riverfront paths, garden paths around the ponds, solar system installations, art work, the Kalapuya Talking Stones, a native plant nursery and the Nobel Peace Park monument. Stroll around the edges of the pond, watching the ducks and enjoying the spring landscape as the cherry trees start to blossom. Large stepping stones across the water lead to a little landscaped island.

McKenzie River Lavender - McKenzie River

Like the Pfeiffer Winery, this is a private property, but the lavender garden is opened to the public during their annual festival or by reservation. In early summer, McKenzie River Lavender showcases scenic fields of lavender along the McKenzie River. Shop for fresh cut bundles of this fragrant herb and purchase artisan products infused with lavender. Some years a lavender labyrinth is open for exploring.

McKenzie River Lavender by Sally McAleer
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Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.