Berry Botanic Garden

comments: 50


For Mother's Day, our family went to the Berry Botanic Garden. It was my first time there, but I'd been wanting to go for a long time. It is the former home of Rae Selling Berry, who started the garden in 1939, when she was almost 60, and lived there until she was 96. It's unclear what the future holds for this property, but I believe it is up for sale. It would be so wonderful if someone were able to purchase it and restore the gardens. You can still feel how much the garden was loved when you are there, but everywhere there are signs that the years and lack of money have taken their toll.


There are several sections of the garden, including a native plant trail through the woods, a rhododendron forest, an alpine rock garden, and a primula meadow. Needless to say, I know the names of very few plants, and very little is actually labeled here, so it feels very much like the private yard it once was. The blue of these (forget-me-nots?) makes me want to sob. It feels translucent, like the aquamarine of certain summer skies.


These remind me of the skirts of fancy ballgowns.


This, oh this . . . this is meadowsweet. *


"Oh, this!" she breathed, in wonder.


I've never seen this flower before. I was mesmerized by the stand of it in front of a big, dark rhododendron shrub — the perfect backdrop. The volunteer gardener happened to be there with us as we came upon this, and I asked her what it was called (and almost fell over when she told me).


Because was there ever a more beautiful word? Meadowsweet.


I can't stop looking at this flower.


My new favorite flower.


If you go, look for it right by this view of the rhododendron forest. And when the fairies come up and offer you food and drink, don't take it. But you knew that.


The primula path.


The path leads you to the alpine beds and the rock gardens. I'm having trouble describing what it felt like here. We all sort of stood in our spots and turned in complete circles, trying to take all the little rock gardens in. These are the absolute coolest things. And I have a big huge pile of rocks at home, from when the hedge came down a few weeks ago, that I've been wondering what to do with. . . .


Alpine garden. Andy Paulson? How do you feel about bringing that whole big huge pile of rocks to the back yard? Oh, goodie. I knew you'd say that.


I kept picturing a party, and mid-summer-evening party, with muslin dresses . . . and candle lanterns . . . and fairy lights . . . and elderberry wine and blueberry tarts . . . and fiddle music. And people doing the Virginia Reel. And the Circassian Circle. There's a path that leads around behind this glade, through the trees, where you could share sweet nothings with someone, and walk barefoot. I wonder if they had parties like that. Or I wonder what animals live here now, when it's all quiet and still.


*Update: I'm wrong: It's "columbine meadow rue." Oh the irony [revises search of local nurseries from meadowsweet to meadow rue]! Thank you Dee!


I love your pictures of flowers! Just yesterday I took some pictures of pink crab apple blossoms covered with snow against a gray sky - it reminded me of your post about your favorite spring colors. :)

Thanks for sharing the gardens... definately an enchanted little place, the fairies know the best places to live;)

Kathy McDonald says: May 10, 2010 at 11:23 AM

Alicia, I LOVE your wonderful imagination! Savoring your delightful words is my favorite part of the day! Happy Mother's Day.

Love these gardens...I'll have to put it on my list of "to visits" when I come visit my little brother...

Heather Greenway says: May 10, 2010 at 11:39 AM

I don't quite know why, but this post makes my heart hurt with an indescribable wanting.

"a mid-summer-evening party, with muslin dresses . . . and candle lanterns . . . and fairy lights . . . and elderberry wine and blueberry tarts . . . and fiddle music.." Oh, this made me cry. I don't know why, but I ache for such a thing. My heart longs for it.
Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos!
xo Jenny

she started this garden when she was 60! How wonderful and inspiring! Hmm... I'm sensing a Meadowsweet dress in our/your future??!!!

What a beautiful place! Thank you for all the views.

We have an arboretum here where in June a theater group performs Shakespeare throughout the gardens. There are small groups of musicians here and there. It's really magical!

What a beautiful garden, thank you for your words, you have all kinds of visions in my head now :D We went to the Jenkins Estate this weekend and wandered the beautiful gardens there, and they were lovely too, just like the one you went to.

Just lovely. Do check out the Leach Botanic Garden-- Pdx as well, some lovely warm day. They have yummy teas on the grounds in the summer as well as occasional plant sales. We used to go when I would visit my Mother. Would love to go there again.....Marie

Gorgeous! I had just finished posting and realized you did too... and wouldn't you know... we both posted photos of forget-me-nots!!! I hope our generation will preserve all of these gems. One thing I noticed when we visited the West Coast is how many beautiful gardens there are there. Thanks for showing so many of them!

Lovely pictures! I almost went there this weekend. I tried going once before, but I had my pug with me, and since dogs aren't allowed, I had to turn back...
If you like pugs, you might like my blog called Pugs and Lilacs:)

I'm a little obsessed with gardening books lately as we are working hard at transforming a paved area into green space. These photos are so lovely and inspiring! Thank you!

What a grand garden!
I love Meadowsweet.
I have a big patch on the side of my house (mixed with cranesbill, iris, and perennial geraniums).

Oh, Alicia, I'm sighing with happiness. This is just the sort of atmospheric, lovely post that is classic Posie. Thanks for taking us with you.

Troy Louise says: May 10, 2010 at 01:36 PM

Alicia: This is so pretty. Thanks for sharing it with your beautiful story & fun wonderings. I hope that some one is able to save all the beauty for more generations to share.

This garden is so beautiful; thank you so much for posting pics of it. I have never seen meadowsweet before, although I have often seen it mentioned. I live in Australia, , and although we have many exotic plants this is not one I am familiar with.

I recently discovered your blog and love it. It is lovely to meet someone with the same passion for sewing, and to a lesser extent knitting. Crochet is the only skill I never acquired. It depends on your mother and other female relations really, doesn't it?

Beautiful, and all the things you imagine there, I can picture them, too!

Your stories are lovely to read!

i have rsvp'd to this party and the response is yes. i am off to make the muslin gown. ta ta

Melissa L. says: May 10, 2010 at 03:07 PM

You could change the dog's name to Clover Meadowsweet Paulson...!

ellen kelley says: May 10, 2010 at 04:54 PM

Rue, Sweet or whatever..aren't the common names of plants so lovely? I am partial to all herb names, to "weed" names, i.e. Queen Anne's Lace, and to such lovelies as Cowslip, Love-in-a-Mist, Heart's Ease..on and on.
I had a Jersey cow that I milked for many years, her name was Rosemary, and yes, I still remember her.
Your posts are lovely and bring joy to many.

Susie Sears Taylor says: May 10, 2010 at 04:59 PM

What beautiful flowers and beautiful words. I hope someone rescues this place so your daughter can enjoy it.
I am introducing this to my friends who love flowers - who doesn't?
Susie Sears Taylor

Claire Ashworth says: May 10, 2010 at 05:45 PM

i want to go, i want to gooooooooooo!!!!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at