Okay, April, Pay Up.

By Gretchen Ammerman | Monday, April 29, 2019

If this spring has been any indication so far, the May flowers this year will be aces, as they’ve had plenty of watering. You can see some of the flora that thrives on the central coast in three public gardens, two privately cultivated and one a state park natural area. 

The Gerdemann Botanic Preserve started as a test garden but is now a serene place to view rare and unusual plants from all over the world, including eclectic collections of magnolia, camellia, rhododendron species and hybrids. Open to the public year round, you can reach the garden for a self-guided tour by a footpath that starts behind the Earthworks Gallery in Yachats or make an appointment to experience the park with a docent. There are also occasional free group walks posted on the garden’s Facebook page. Ironically, my favorite piece of fauna among all these flowering species is a grand old Sitka spruce that spanned a creek that has run beneath its roots for at least 300 hundred years! And on the subject of irony, put yourself in the shoes of this writer, who found herself in the middle of a botanical reserve cursing plants as photo bombers when she tried to get a good shot of it. Admission to the garden is free but donations are welcome. Dogs, however, are not.

Rhododendrons that thrive under shady forest canopy are features at the Gerdemann Preserve

The Connie Hansen Garden is a favorite spot for Lincoln City residents and is regularly listed as one of the best public gardens in Oregon. It’s named after botanist Connie Hansen, who slowly acquired the property around her home off of NW 33rd Avenue until it included the entire block. She filled it with trees, rhododendrons and other flowering species. When she passed in 1993, a group created a nonprofit to preserve the garden, which is open every day from dawn to dusk. Pets are allowed but must be leashed, and the paved pathways include some that are wheelchair accessible. Admission is free but you can support the nonprofit that manages the garden with donations and through purchases of plants and gifts in the onsite gift shop, open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in March through mid-December.

The Connie Hansen Garden surrounds the old residence, now a gift shop and information center

If you want to experience Connie Hansen Gardens with a little extra flair, visit it during the Art on the Edge Studio Tour, Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19. A trio of artists will set up temporary studio spaces: Roberta Baker with art quilts and wall hangings; Naima Baker, whose “Orgonites” are made of crystals, beach stones and semi-precious gems and Nancy Chase, with watercolors and oil paintings.

The cost for the tour is $10, roughly what you would pay just for entry to some other public gardens, and you can then visit scenic artist’s studios along the coast.

Get a behind the scenes look at some active studios during the Art on the Edge Studio Tour

The Darlingtonia State Natural Site has been on my bucket list for years, which is a bit sad considering the number of times I regularly pass it, and the parking lot is seconds from Highway 101, about 5 miles north of Florence. A short path gets you to an elevated walkway just above a wetland filled to the brim with Darlingtonia Californica, or cobra lily, a plant that needs no extra marketing as it actually survives by killing and eating insects. Nothing indicated that dogs weren’t allowed, and the path and walkway are definitely wheelchair accessible. Insider tip – if you're wearing pants or a skirt in a sheer fabric, do NOT sit down on the walkway to try to get a more artistic shot of the cobras, unless you want a backside full of splinters.

It's pretty easy to figure out how the cobra lily got its name

What cool places to view the spring flowers? Leave a comment and let us know about it. And for other things to do before or after a serene garden experience, be sure to check out our Daytime Events calendar. For evening entertainment, our Nightlife page guides you to the best places to be. 

About the Author Gretchen Ammerman
Gretchen Ammerman received an Environmental Science degree from Humboldt State University and was soon running a state environmental agency in Hawaii. She gave it up for the glamorous life of the freelance writer. This led to steady employment as a newspaper editor in Lincoln City, OR, where she knew she was doing well when the paper was threatened with a lawsuit within a week. Though the work was rewarding, she returned to freelance writing to have more freedom to explore the beautiful state of Oregon with her adopted dog, Scout.