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Coastal Garden Contains 300 Species of Flowering Bushes

What some call “Oregon’s Secret Garden” features more than 300 species of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. It’s an early-1900s-style woodland garden from the O. Howard Hinsdale Estate near the Dead Creek elk viewing area along Hwy 38 east of Reedsport. Largely unnoticed for years, it is better known as Spruce Reach Island.

Hinsdale’s father built a three-room, cedar-plank house in 1912 that served as a family summer retreat. He used a dredge to bring in river sand and gravel to counter possible flooding if the Umpqua River overflowed its banks. He landscaped with many mature trees and plants, dating two of them back to 1890 and 1895.

The Bureau of Land Management acquired the property in 1994. The agency’s intention to demolish the remnant of house and garden spurred local citizens to form the “Friends of Hinsdale Garden” that partnered with the government to preserve the hidden treasure.

Following Hinsdale’s meticulous records, his labor of love was revived by the many people who worked to clear the land and identify more than 700 of the original plants.


Sources:  Hammond, John M. Spruce Reach Island. Fall ed. Journal American Rhododendron Society, 2007. Web. 24 Jan. 2015; McOmie, Grant. "Oregon's Secret Garden." Grant's Getaways. 17 May 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. http://traveloregon.com/trip-ideas/grants-getaways/oregons-secret-garden/; Kimball, Colette. "Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden: Reedsport." My South Lane. 19 May 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. .

Emily Blakely has published poetry and prose, and frequently displayed framed works at the Umpqua Valley Arts Center as well as restaurants and libraries in the area. Researching local history has become one of her favorite pastimes.