Friday, February 11, 2022

The winter garden at McMenamins Grand Lodge

It's always exciting to explore a new-to-me outpost of the garden-loving local McMenamins chain of pub/restaurant/hotel/movie theatres. I frequently visit my neighborhood Kennedy School, last March I explored their Cornelius Pass Roadhouse location and in September met up with the Outlaw at the Elks Temple, in Tacoma. This location, in Forest Grove—a suburb some 30 miles west of Portland—sits on an expansive piece of property.

There are two large brick buildings, this being the smaller one.

One online source describes the lodge as a former "Masonic Rest Home" saying; "it was built in 1922 by the Oregon Masonic Lodge to house the widows, children, and infirm surviving family of their members who'd passed on."

Since I am always on the hunt for agaves, it was nice to see these right away and know I wouldn't be disappointed. 
Here I was trying for a shot of the generous planting of Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress', but ended up enjoying the lush explosion of green from above and below.

I'm always happy to see a planting of aspidistra (cast iron plant), I think they're under appreciated as outdoor plants. 

There were a couple of these metal slides off the back of the building, one in the background of the photo above and one below. I wonder what purpose they served? Laundry? An easy way to get rid of the bodies? They were filled with leaves and other debris so not currently in use.

Here's the front of the main lodge building—I did make it inside on this visit.

Looks like a nice private sit-spot once the branches are leafed out.

Unfortunately there's no room for a Garrya elliptica (silk-tassel) in my garden, so I am always thrilled to find them when I'm out and about.

The air was still, so the tassels weren't moving and I was able to go in for a close-up. So furry!

I posted a photo of this fern on Instagram and got a lot of possible names, Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata the King’ seemed to be the winner. 

An overall shot.

Tetrapanax papyrifer in a holding pattern until the temperatures warm.


This "pond" was at the corner of the property, I wonder if it holds water year-round, or is just a wet-season feature?

No doubt this area has an entirely different atmosphere in the summertime.

The lodge, from another vantage point.

Helleborus foetidus

I couldn't decide which photo I liked best, so you get them both.

There were lots of options for outdoor dining and drinking, none open yet when I was there.

Yucca rostrata!

And a couple more agaves, although they looked so sad I didn't go any closer.

The yucca looked happy though.

There was a planting of several Daphniphyllum macropodum around what appeared to be a performance area adjacent to the outdoor drinking/dining facilities. It was fun to see so many of these small trees in one place.

It was also nice to see they were all a little "deflated" like my plants at home are. Probably a reaction to the cool temperatures?

Now it's time for the hamamelis (witch hazel) show! They had some lovely specimens

And variegated bamboo, too!


That's the tour, I hope you enjoyed wandering the garden as much as I did. I'll try to make a point of going back in the summer to see how it looks during the growing season.

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. What a great company; reuse of old buildings and great gardens, as well as providing community hangouts.

    1. It really is a wonderful company. We're lucky to have them in the PNW!

  2. I am always just so impressed at what this group does on landscaping their properties. So beautiful and so rare.

    1. Paying real gardeners and letting them get creative, it really is magic.

  3. It looks like a great place to visit. The silk-tassel is fascinating, and I love the ferns. The structures and the landscaping are beautiful, too.

    1. Beth when do you think you'll make a trip out this way? I'd love to show you a McMenamins.

  4. Leisurely garden walk on a bright winter day: top of my list anytime.
    Are the tip of the Helleborus foetidus blooms really red? And had you noticed any scent on the Hamamelis? They are rumored to have fragrant blooms, but I was never lucky enough to encounter any.

    1. Yes! These are really red, but not all are. When it comes to hamamelis scent I rarely am able to detect anything. That's why I bought the one I did, Hamamelis x intermedia 'Rochester'—it I can smell!

  5. It's interesting and rather wonderful what they are doing putting old buildings to good use instead of tearing them down and building something ugly.

    The garden looks like it might be quite something in the growing season.

  6. The sight of a Garrya elliptica in bloom always makes me sigh. I've had a plant in the ground since 2015 and all I can say about it is that it hasn't died. I was curious about the metal slides attached to the Grand Hotel buildings and discovered an explanation online about the building's history:
    Before venturing down the First Floor’s west hallway, notice the ramp leading to the second floor. This was an original
    and imperative feature of the Masonic Home, its presence necessitated by the absence of a passenger elevator during the
    first three decades of the Home’s existence. Residents with impaired mobility moved between floors by way of the ramp,
    which was surfaced with a cork sheeting to further ensure a “safe passage”.

    1. I searched and searched and found nothing online. Thanks for the detective work!

  7. There was a branch of Multnomah county jail called "The Farm" next to the old folks home. The inmates grew most of the food for the old folks home and the rest of the county jails. They even had a small dairy.i don't know what the chutes were for. Fire escape slides?

    1. I think what you're describing might be part of McMenamins Edgefield? The poor farm? I could be wrong. See Kris' comment above about the chutes.

  8. A nice repurposing of the old building, and great garden plant choices as expected. I think that slide may have been a fire escape... never seen one quite like that.

    1. See Kris' comment above about the slide. She's a great online detective!


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