In Progress

The Ravine

Despite its dramatic name, the Ravine is actually a small depression that channels an intermittent spring from its origin near the upper pasture 200’ downhill to an informal amphitheater. It marks the southern end of the more cultivated garden areas of the historic park. This miniature “valley” holds a great deal of promise. The Conservancy, along with landscape designer Ron Miner, is working to enhance this area.

The Conservancy is currently applying to the City for permission to move forward on the project. We expect donated services and labor to keep the project’s cost to under $8,000.

Our plans include:

  • Installation of additional Willamette Valley clay boulders along the stream’s course, complemented with a planting of flowering perennials and native ferns.
  • Construction of a small dry well backed by a low berm to help reduce the seasonal flooding in the amphitheater.
  • Reduction of the existing path’s width and resurfacing in order to make it better fit with the scale and aesthetics of the area.
  • Planting of several ornamental trees, including magnolias, flowering cherry, and weeping Japanese maple.
  • Installation of two small benches.

The Rose Garden Rehabilitation

Mission Street Parks Conservancy (then Friends of Bush Gardens) and the City of Salem began the latest rehabilitation of the Municipal Rose Garden early in 2016 when ducks were seen swimming in several of the rose beds. Friends of Bush Gardens (FOBG) brought together Salem Parks, the Salem Rose Society, and others knowledgeable in things such as soils to address the poor drainage problem and the lack of vigor in many of the rose plants. The group decided to add 11 inches of a mixture of 70% clay loam and 30% garden compost thus raising many of the roses and to change the timing of the irrigation to avoid watering the roses too early in the morning.

Friends of Bush Gardens formed the FOBG Rose Committee to made decisions as to which of the original roses should be kept, which rose beds needed to be raised, and which roses should be added to the collection. During the three year rehabilitation, the Committee raised 48 beds (60% of the Hybrid Tea/Floribunda rose beds), dug up, divided, and replanted 23 beds of old roses, and purchased over 650 new roses. Corrections Crews did most of the heavy work while FOBG volunteers and head gardener, Tom Beatty, moved and installed most of the roses and oversaw the edging of all the beds. FOBG and the City shared the cost of the new roses. The projects final steps include installation of recently ordered rose bed labels and a final planting of roses in 2019.

Interpretative Signage Project

In the past, visitors could experience the park yet be unaware of the historic significance of its unique features. To address this problem, FOBG led a project to design and install six interpretative signs at strategic points throughout the park, which now ‘bring to life’ the evolution of the natural and cultural history of the park. As part of the project, FOBG produced a new map and guide to the park. The project’s final phase is the addition of QR codes to each sign. QR codes will allow park visitors to access significantly more information than the interpretive signs can contain.

This project is the culmination of a partnership between Friends of Bush Gardens and the City of Salem Parks with the support of grants from City of Salem’s Transient Occupancy Tax, The Oregon Park Foundation, the local Christian Science Church, and contributions from our greater community. It is our hope that the addition of this interpretive overlay will enhance your experience of this unique landscape and bring an increased ‘sense of place’ to the fabric of Salem.

Projects Coming Soon
  • The Terrace & Conservatory Garden Expansion
Completed Projects

The Bush Conservatory

Built in 1882, the Bush Conservatory is the oldest in the Pacific Northwest and second oldest west of the Rockies (with the oldest being the Golden Gate Park Conservatory in San Francisco). Asahel Bush II built it for his daughters, Sally and Eugenia. Sally was hostess for his father’s guests, and she frequently used flowers from the conservatory in arrangements for her table and her father’s bank. Sally also ‘grew on’ vegetable starts in the conservatory for her garden, as well as mushrooms under the benches.

The Bush Conservatory has undergone several rehabilitations. In the early 1930s, the family installed a Moninger Iron Frame and Truss House on the original ‘single-wythe’ brick walls, added a boiler room to the northeast, replaced the wood stove with an oil-fired burner circulating hot water through newly installed registers. In 1977-78 members of the public organized to save the conservatory from demolition. Once volunteers repaired the superstructure and replaced broken glass and all the wooden benches, Salem Art Association put out the call for volunteer gardeners to maintain the interior of the structure. This was the beginning of the Bush Conservatory Gardeners, which in 1991 became Friends of Bush Gardens (FOBG). In 2008, FOBG began a capital campaign to raise $220,000 for a proper restoration of the conservatory in partnership with Salem City Parks. They completed total restoration of the conservatory in 2011. Today, Mission Street Parks Conservancy maintains the plant collection, which represents plants common in conservatories during the Victorian period.

The Victorian Style Gazebo

In 1968, several years after the installation of the Municipal Rose Garden, Alice Brown Powell gifted the City of Salem with the Deepwood Spring House to place at the focal point of the rose garden. In 1978, once Deepwood was saved and the Friends of Deepwood formed, the City returned the gazebo to its historic site. At that point, the City invited a Scout Troop to build a ‘pergola’ on the site. Their design consisted of a half-circle of elevated planks on posts, planted with vines, and enclosing a brick hexagonal surface containing a large bench. Rot eventually overtook the structure, and the City invited FOBG to build a proper gazebo for the rose garden.

With financial support from the Salem community and TOT funds, FOBG hired an architect who designed a gazebo inspired by the architecture of Bush House. FOBG oversaw the building of the current structure, which is consistent with the Victorian style rose garden. The gazebo is the site of many weddings, frequent solo musicians sending their melodies out over the roses, and anyone seeking a quiet spot to catch the breezes and ‘gaze about’.