It has been more than a month since I last posted about our brick walk restoration project. They are not finished, but we hope to have them completed by the end of this week. I should note that we have concentrated our efforts on the paths in and around the Parterre Garden (sometimes called the Flower Garden) because they were in an obvious state of disrepair.
Returning visitors to Gaiety Hollow will immediately notice how much better the walks look and feel under your feet. They are now straight and level. The bricks that edge the path are all new and give the paths a crisp, clean look.
We aren’t completely clear on the history of the brick paths. There is speculation that parts of the paths were originally part of Elizabeth Lord’s mother’s garden. The modes Lord house was located at the corner of High Street and Mission Street, but the property encompassed approximately 1/4 of the city block. Juliet Lord was well known for her extensive flower gardens and Elizabeth credited her mother for teaching her to love gardens. Undated hand-colored lantern slides show the Gaiety Hollow property, but we are uncertain if they are of Juliet Lord’s gardens or Edith and Elizabeth’s gardens.
We can say, however, that the paths were constructed by the early 1930s. Edith and Elizabeth moved into the Gaiety Hollow house in 1932. Dated photographs and plans from the 1930s show the layout of the paths.
In the intervening 85 yeas, the paths fell into disrepair. Between the untold number of enthusiastic gardeners who have trod these paths, and the countless wheelbarrows of compost rolling over them, and seasons of freezing and thawing, many bricks had sunken, shifted, and broken. We discovered that a few of the paths had been redone during the intervening years and set in concrete mortar. Those paths we left as-is. Other paths were set on sand and gravel and had severely degraded. A laser level indicated that they were 2 inches lower than the paths on mortar!
When we took on this project, we decided that we wanted to restore the paths to how Edith and Elizabeth knew them. Visitors will feel like they have stepped back in time to the years Edith and Elizabeth were living and working at Gaiety Hollow (1932-1969).
There are changes that will be new to visitors, but they would not be new to Edith and Elizabeth. We have chosen to reconstruct the brick pedestal that stood at the intersection of the Parterre Garden until 1970. We removed the wide brick path leading to the Pergola and replaced the narrow path and grass strips that were there until around 1970. We also removed the degrading pavers in the north path and replaced them with grass that we can see in an early photograph and plan.
We did elect to make a few changes: We raised the grade of some of the paths slightly to improve drainage and all the bricks along the path edges were replaced. Visitors should not notice the grade change. The new bricks fit well with the old, but visitors will perceive that they are newer and it will create an opportunity for us to explain the garden’s story.
When you visit the gardens next season, you might notice a few quirks in the paths and the patterns of the bricks. Someone repairing the paths years ago must have made a few changes. We replaced the bricks exactly as they were (to the consternation of mason Julian).
All in all, the Parterre Garden has been restored to its original beauty. Visitors will be able to clearly see Edith and Elizabeth’s vision for the garden and the geometry of the design.
A small group of dedicated volunteers planted our spring blooming bulbs last week (Thank you!) and I am making plans for the perennials that we will plant in the spring. I hope that you visit us in 2018 and enjoy the progress we are making.
Many thanks to our grant partners, the Oregon Cultural Trust and the State Historic Preservation Office, to our donors, and to our volunteers, for making this project possible.
HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS AND PLANS COURTESY OF THE LORD & SCHRYVER ARCHITECTURAL RECORDS, COLL 098, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES, UNIVERSITY OF OREGON LIBRARIES, EUGENE, OREGON.