One of my favorite spots in Oregon lies right on the outskirts of Silverton.
Since its opening, the Oregon Garden has stood out as an example of the many things that make our state beautiful.
Yes, the collection of plants is among the best on the West Coast. I don’t know a daffodil from a dahlia, but I do know the garden has a bunch of them.
Yes, the landscaping makes it a catalog of ideas for my inner gardener. Actually, my inner gardener stays pretty well hidden in spite of my attempts at coaxing it out of the tool shed.
Yes, the location overlooking the valley is just about perfect.
But the thing that really stands out is how many volunteers worked together to transform a horse farm into the centerpiece of the Willamette Valley. Their efforts show a sense of community above and beyond any other place I’ve seen.
I remember when the garden first opened. The entire city seemed to be busting its buttons over the miracle they had pulled off. More than $20 million had been invested in the garden in contributions and in-kind services. Even the Environmental Protection Agency was involved with the wetlands demonstration project that now serves as a home to about 456,000 frogs.
To me a walk through the garden has always been something of a mini-vacation. I used to daydream of about the possibility of someday staying at a lodge on the grounds.
Last week, that daydream came true. My wife, Patti, and I checked out the new Moonstone resort at the garden. Judging from our brief stay, it won’t be the last time we visit, either.
The resort is perched above most of the garden, allowing visitors to view it from the walkways. Many of the 103 rooms are in individual buildings tucked next to the forested portion of the garden.
We arrived there on a bluebird afternoon, just after twilight and as the full moon hung low over the hills. After checking in, we met some friends in the bar. It’s a funny thing about that place. As we sat, more people we knew arrived. Some were celebrating birthdays; others were just like us, checking out the resort.
I had heard that the food was good, and we weren’t disappointed.
But the real show was outside. We took the scenic route to our rooms, strolling around the grounds in the moonlight, telling stories and enjoying each other’s company.
The only unfortunate part of our stay was its brevity. Patti and I had to get home the next morning, but we did notice that our friends were in no hurry to leave.
I don’t know much about the resort business or what makes a hotel successful. But I do know that one of the key elements is finding the right location.
That being the case, the Oregon Garden Resort has got it made.