Garden of the Month: August 2011

Winding downhill path to North Main with view of Grizzly

Scenic Park-

August Garden of the Month is Ashland’s newest park: Scenic Park, a 1.5-acre neighborhood park at the dead end of Scenic Drive that can also be accessed from North Main and the dead end of Greenbriar Place.

The city bought this parcel in 2000 to build a neighborhood park in compliance with its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which states that every Ashland resident should be within a quarter mile of a city park. It took a decade to get Scenic Park up and running, but you could say it was worth the wait: it’s a gem.

Stairway down from Greenbriar Place

The park has sweeping views of Grizzly Peak and the mountains, which you can enjoy from a long bench or picnic tables at the top of the park, which sweeps down to North Main. There are two playgrounds for children — one for preschoolers, the other for older children with climbing wall and a view of Mt. Ashland. The park’s winding path is ADA-accessible, which makes it a popular spot for Linda Vista patients and their families.

Long bench gives sweeping views of Grizzly

Scenic Park is herbicide and pesticide-free and was designed for low maintenance. The irrigation system runs perpendicular to the hill to save water, and the lawns are tree-less and edge-less for easy mowing. Native rock from the site was incorporated into pathways, seats, and retaining walls. Deutzia cuttings from Lithia Park and fountain grass recycled from Siskiyou Boulevard medians can be found near the North Main entrance. Plum and apple trees from the original site continue to bear fruit.

A community garden near the Scenic Drive entrance has 10 well-maintained plots protected by deer fencing. (The garden’s waiting list is about a year; call 541-488-6606 for more information.) Plumbing was installed nearby for possible bathroom and drinking fountain in the future.

Deer Fenced Community Garden

The Parks and Recreation Department planted about 35 trees in 2008, including red-blooming horse chestnut, black maple, maackia, upright hornbeam, redbud, Hall’s hardy almond, Italian oaks, Vanderwolf pines, blue spruce, flame willows, cinnamon, fruiting quince, hackberry, ornamental cherry, and a parrotia. A neighbor has already used the quince in a pie.

Scenic Drive entrance leading down to playground with climbing wall

Shrubs, with drought-tolerance in mind, include vibernum, saponaria, lavendar, yarrow, Jerusalem and Russian sage, poppies, Oregon sunshine, hybrid manzanita, silk tassel, rock rose, forsythia, germander, and low-growing sumac.

Railroad-tie steps lead through small fields of native grasses and wildflowers. In 2009, hundreds of bulbs were planted, mainly along the North Main entrance: narcissus, tulip, daffodil, iris, crocus. They already produce a spring show.

In the top corner of Scenic Park is Mary’s Grove, planted by her friends with five Italian oaks in memory of Mary Douglas, a former park neighbor.

On-site rocks used in retaining walls

With input from the community, neighbors, and the Parks and Recreation Commission, the master plan for Scenic Park was drawn up by Lango.Hanson Landscape Architects of Portland. Construction documents were provided by KenCairn Landscape Architecture of Ashland, and hardscape was constructed by Batzer Construction of Medford.

Because Scenic Park is a neighborhood park, there are only three parking spaces (made of permeable paving) at the Scenic Drive entrance, intended primarily for community gardeners and maintenance vehicles. You can park nearby on Maple, Scenic or Greenbriar and walk in. – Julia Sommer