The Ravine enhancement project began in late 2017 with the decision to improve a desirable but neglected area of the park.
The Ravine itself is a narrow gulley formed by a seasonal seep and winter runoff. It runs about 200′ from the upper pasture downhill to an informal amphitheater with Oregon white oaks. It forms a boundary line between the more cultivate areas of the park surrounding the Bush House and Barn and the more natural parts of the park. Over the years, ornamental plants have been added to the Ravine, including an impressive hedge of mature mountain laurels, several deciduous magnolias, Japanese maples, rhododendron, a bank of mixed evergreen azaleas, and deciduous Exbury azaleas. One of the Ravine’s most prominent features is a Mexican (or Montezuma) Bald Cypress that blew down in a storm and now grows almost horizontally. Its accessible trunk and branches prove irresistible to children.
The Ravine enhancement project will slightly widen the existing stream channel, and place Willamette Valley clay boulders on its banks. The boulders will not only improve the appearance of the stream but will slow down the water and allow it to percolate into the ground. The stream will end is a large dry well backed by a berm. These improvements will help reduce the amount of water that pools to the east at the base of several Oregon white oaks each winter. A small flagstone terrace will be built near the dry well. A rock scramble for children will be installed just east of the path through the Ravine. The scramble will also create additional seating for children and parents.
Once the stonework is completed, volunteers will plant a range of ground covers that will include ferns and ground orchids. They will also plant several trees, including an ‘Emerald Pagoda’ Styrax japonicus, an ‘Akebono’ flowering cherry tree, and ‘Jane Platt’ deciduous magnolia, and a Sieboldii deciduous magnolia.
Ron Miner designed The Ravine enhancement with contributions and plant selection by Mission Street Parks Conservancy members and city horticulturist Tom Beatty. Willamette Valley Vineyards donated the clay boulders thanks to the help of Betty O’Brien of Elton Vineyards. MSPC’s generous donors are funding the project. The Tuesday Gardeners with install the plants and help the City of Salem maintain the area.
Key features 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.