((Please note: In January, 2010, an announcement appeared regarding the closure of
Berry Botanic Garden. Sad news for all who had an opportunity to visit this serene and magical landscape.))
A passionate gardener, exceptional plantswoman, and an inspirational figure in the world of horticulture, Rae Selling Berry prevailed over a condition of hereditary deafness and left a remarkable legacy for plant lovers.
In The Berry Botanic Garden, the admirable depth and breadth of the plant collections -and projects carried out today that focus on conservation of endangered plants - attest to Rae Berry's enduring spirit.
Rae and Alfred Berry acquired the parcel of land that was destined to become The Berry Botanic Garden in 1938: A nine-acre property near the Willamette River that gave Rae sufficient space to pursue propagating and cultivating the myriad specimens she wished to grow.
Seattle landscape architect John Grant assisted with siting trees, etc., but Rae took responsibility for planning and planting the areas devoted to exceptional collections of primulas, alpine plants, and Rhododendron species from seed. Two large types, R. decorum and R. calophytum, have now matured into what looks like a natural forest. Some 300 species of alpine plants from around the world thrive in the quarter-acre Rock Garden.
On a June visit visitors are left breathless by glorious displays of the mythic Himalayan blue poppy and the Nepalese poppy found growing in the primula beds. I was bewitched by the tall - to 5 feet - stands of dusty pink Meconopsis napaulensis, and simply stunning arrays of the alluringly soft, subtle blue-hued 'Crewdson's hybrids.'
Spring - Berry Botanic Garden
The genus Primula was one of Rae's cherished favorites. Aficionados revel in the garden's profusion of primula species, from the flowering candelabras of P. aurantiaca to noteworthy P. cusickiana, which bears violet-scented flowers; native to northeastern Oregon.
Dubbed 'Cooky' by Rae Berry, P. cusickiana is particularly temperamental to cultivate. It's known to have eluded Rae's skillful attempts to grow it. Today this plant's image is used as the garden's logo, symbolizing The Berry Botanic Garden's commitment to promote a vast kingdom of plants.
Photos: Berry Botanic Garden