Nothing brightens your day quite like a bouquet of vibrant, fresh flowers. Luckily for Oregonians, the state is home to several flower farms, offering bright blooms and bulbs to enjoy immediately or for years to come in home gardens.
Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, Schreiner’s Gardens grows approximately 120 acres of bearded irises. Steve Schreiner helps run the business along with his sister, brother and nephew. Steve’s grandfather, F.X., began the family business in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1925 and moved to Oregon in 1946.
“F.X. just loved irises,” Steve Schreiner says. “He said he would give his life in eternity if he could have 50 more years working with irises.”
Schreiner’s grows many different varieties of irises, mostly bearded, and introduces 17 new varieties each year. During the bloom season in May, consumers can purchase cut flowers to put in vases and preorder rhizomes.
“We have a 72-page catalog that has a lot of recognition as being an excellent catalog,” Schreiner says. “We take great pride in that.”
Visitors can savor the view of those stunning irises in the farm’s two 10-acre display gardens throughout May.
“Our display gardens get rave reviews from all over the world,” Schreiner says. “We’ve had people who have seen lots of gardens across the globe and they say ours are the most beautiful they’ve ever seen.”
The gardens are free and open to the public in daylight hours. “Even for those of us who work here every year, you can’t get jaded,” he says. “The color just sends us all into a cartwheel.”
Swan Island Dahlias
The nation’s leading dahlia grower, Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, grows almost 40 acres of dahlias.
“We offer about 370 different varieties of dahlias and ship about 300,000 dahlia tubers worldwide per year,” says Heather Schloe, one of the family members at the family-owned and -operated Swan Island Dahlias. The business was started by Heather’s grandparents, Nick and Margaret Gitts, in 1963.
“Oregon is a wonderful place because of our mild climate – no extreme summer heat or extreme cold winters,” she says. “Our soil allows us to have a large operation, with beautiful, sandy soil that lets us harvest even in winter.”
Heather says these soils help create gorgeous gardens, and Swan Island Dahlias brings lots of tourism dollars to the state.
“We support Oregon’s economy not only by offering many jobs, but also being one of ‘Oregon’s Best Destinations’ for tourism,” she says.
Visitors can walk through the fields for free seven days a week each August and September when the flowers are in bloom. They can also choose their favorite tubers to order and plant in their own gardens in the spring.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
In Woodburn, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm understands the impact of agritourism from their annual festival each spring, where visitors can wander through 40 acres of gorgeous blooming tulips and enjoy other fun activities.
“We attract about 100,000 people during the month of April for the Tulip Fest, and after their farm visit they’re looking for other things to do, so we send them to the surrounding community,” says Barb Iverson, co-owner at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. “People come out here for the memories. It’s on their bucket lists. We have a map where people pin where they’re from and we’ve had every U.S. state and about 140 countries.”
Barb’s parents purchased the farm in 1950 and began growing tulips in 1974. She’s one of six children, and currently runs the farm with two of her brothers and her nephew, with another brother planning to retire and return to the farm.
“During the tulip festival, everyone pitches in,” she says.
The farm grows about 80 varieties of tulips, along with daffodils and perennials. Iverson says most of the flowers are sold on-site, and they work with several nonprofits to sell them for fundraisers around Easter. Consumers can also order bulbs through the catalog or buy cut flowers.
Oregon is also home to the Easter Lily Capital of the World. The isolated coastal region that straddles the California and Oregon border, including southwest Curry County, produces nearly all Easter lily bulbs for the blooming, potted Easter lily market. Grown on about a thousand acres, bulbs are planted in the fall, but the bloom is not allowed to grow in the field, ensuring the growth takes place in the bulb. Each year for three years, the bulbs are dug up and replanted into a new field. Then they are harvested and ready for shipping. If the timing is right, the lilies bloom and are available just before Easter.