The Other Grey Gardens

When I think of “grey” gardens I tend to think of cemeteries—not so much Big Edie and Little Edie.
I’m one of those people who was raised visiting such bucolic settings, and with the grey rainy days we relish so much here in the Pacific Northwest, visiting certain old cemeteries once spring has sprung can be kind of fun. I especially enjoy the drive down through the Willamette Valley to visit my pioneer ancestors’ graves in the town of Jefferson, Oregon. I like to do this at least once a year, stopping at other old cemeteries and historic sites along the way.
View from the Wells family pioneer cemetery in Jefferson, OR. Wouldn’t you know it the patriarch made it all the way here during the 1850s only to die from diphtheria.
This past weekend I made the trek with my boyfriend John.
What a great way to get away from the city for a bit and talk with one another while pointing out my favorite plant shopping spots.
Now he knows where to shop for me, right?
Of course I told him about other things too like the job I had in Silverton at the Gordon House and my family history too.
Erythronium found in the cemetery.
Although I’d gone out to get cuttings from cemetery roses planted in the small cemetery with about 10 burials, I was thrilled when I found a small colony of native trout lilies growing amongst the graves.
Finding these little beauties was a big highlight that day. The view was really nice too.
(Yes, I know it’s also a horrible time to take rose cuttings, but I figured, “Why not?”)
Later, at the city cemetery, I found a name on a gravestone that was kind of interesting. I wonder if one of her parents liked plants?
Then there are the truly grey gardens…

We found roses with primroses.

Then there were the ever-present roses.

I think this might be a Camellia.

Of course there were Lilies-of-the-Valley too.

On the stone of the pioneer patriarch of the Terhune family I really enjoyed this rose. (This is another of my ancestors and the Terhune family line goes back to New Amsterdam.)

But I did not understand the willow nearby that I’d seen on another stone at the Champoeg Pioneer Cemetery earlier in the day. Does anyone know what a willow on a gravestone signifies? I’m guessing it might be from the Bible, but I’m really curious since we saw it twice.

Lastly, there was a really interesting design on another Terhune gravestone. We’d thought the leaf looked maple-like, but after giving it some more thought, I now think it is meant to by a leaf of ivy. The stylized elements below it are quite pretty too, don’t you agree?

10 thoughts on “The Other Grey Gardens

  1. Those are beautiful pictures! The grave stones are so moving! I love that the native plants are there.

    The willow is a symbol of mourning. I'm not sure from where or how long ago. I mark my pottery with a willow tree.


  2. Thank you so much Julie. I really enjoy photography a great deal—and pottery too!

    Of course the willow is a symbol of mourning! That makes so much sense since we have the “weeping” willow.


  3. What a sadness all those grey gravestones, at least they are brightened with roses, weeping willows and lilies of the valley. The Erythronium you found is a real gem.


  4. I guess I kind of knew you were near there Grace since we haven't met yet. Hope that will happen soon!

    As for the Jefferson Nursery, I've not made it there yet, but it IS on my list. I hope to be taking more drives down that way in the near future since I'll be less tied up here at home once the house goes on the market and I'm in an apartment. My health continues to allow me some freedom too.


  5. Aren't they just pleasant places? So often you can find all kinds of amazing old trees and shrubs.

    Thank you for noticing I dropped John into the post too. (He'll appreciate that quite a bit.) It must be strange to enter into the life of a garden blogger. Luckily, he's the kind who'll very much enjoy being a character in my verdant drama.


  6. Beautiful post! Surely, the willow is a symbol of mourning common in 19th century memorial drawings and embroidery. I love the lily of the valley and ivy–I never noticed such carved flowers in my few visits to old cemeteries.

    White trout lilies are lovely. I only saw the yellow, which we called dogtooth violets, in my childhood,


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