Tucked behind the Visitor Center is an example of a 19th century farm family’s kitchen garden. You may wonder… “Why is there a garden here, and how is it relevant to Champoeg’s history?” Donald Manson was a retired Hudson Bay Company employee who moved his family to Champoeg in 1857 to live out his retirement years as a farmer. He and his wife Felicity relocated their home to this site after the great flood of 1861 washed away their farm near the town of Champoeg. They lived in a house they built in 1862-3 located about where our Visitor Center stands today. Research shows that they had a vegetable garden behind the house. Our garden is meant to replicate what we believe a wealthy retired Hudson Bay family such as the Mansons might have had growing behind their back door.
The garden is planted with old varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers that were available in this area from 1862 – 1880. The fence is painted with authentic “white wash” instead of modern paint. Garden trellis structures are all hand-built from locally harvested young trees. Seldom grown vegetables and flowers such as Salsify, Yellow Eckendorf Mangle Wurtzel Beets, Cardoon, Cupids Dart and Shoo-fly are among many unusual varieties you will find here. We invite you to wander through the garden on a self-guided tour or join one of our ranger-led tours held every Wednesday and Saturday at 1:00 pm from July 4th – Labor Day. Go back to the 19th Century and see what’s growing!
Inside the Visitor Center you will find seeds for these plants available for a small donation. You, too, can start your very own kitchen garden!