OSU test garden receives civic beauty award


The award-winning garden, which faces Western Boulevard (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Only Mistress Mary’s garden could possibly be tidier, with its ‘pretty maids all in a row,’ but the garden south of the International Living Learning Center is a close second. Dozens upon dozens of little clusters of flowers are assembled in neat rows within the garden, each serving the double purpose of beautification and education. The area is a ‘test garden’ for a number of nurseries who want to see how new varieties do in the Willamette Valley.

“We’re working with various plant producers to bring trials to campus,” explained OSU landscape coordinator Sylvan Pritchett, who helps care for the garden. The test garden used to be at Oak Creek, but two years ago, the OSU facilities department decided to move it to the front of the ILLC, where it is much more visible to pedestrians and to traffic on Western Boulevard.

“We’re looking at the plants over the course of the summer, how long they’re growing, how well they do,” Pritchett said. “They want to know if these varieties are going to do well here.”

Most of the plantings (in clusters of nine each) are annual flowers, although there are a few vegetables including tomatoes and peppers, and a few perennials like camas and salvias. The garden was designed by OSU horticulture instructor Al Shay.

Sylvan Pritchett

Sylvan Pritchett

Bill Coslow, OSU landscape supervisor, said that campus has been a Northwest plant trial location for many years, and it made sense to make the trial plantings more public.

“This way everyone can see them, and the public can enjoy them during the summer instead of them being hidden.”

The result has been so successful that the garden has just received a Civic Beautification Award (Coslow is a member of the advisory committee). The award recognizes residents and businesses that are beautifying their Corvallis neighborhoods. The public is invited to nominate local gardens and yards at any time during the year.

For more information: http://www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=1911

~ Theresa Hogue

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