Manzanita and Dicentra at Hunter Arboretum

Hidden Treasure: Hunter Arboretum in Dallas Oregon

A few weeks ago, I received an Oregon and Southwest Washington Road Map, produced by the Oregon Associations of Nurseries. It contains many retail nurseries and garden centers, as well as public gardens in the region. While it certainly does not contain all nurseries, I thought it was a good resource to keep in the car. To get your copy, click here.

While getting ready to visit Dancing Oaks Nursery in Monmouth, we checked the map to see if there were any other nurseries in the area worth visiting.

Welcome sign to the Arboretum

What we found was the Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Dallas. We have driven through Dallas many times and were not aware of his garden and so hadn’t really expected much. It is nice when you go in with low expectations and come out being surprisingly impressed. The arboretum, founded in 1983, is situated on one end of the city park. It covers an area of 7 acres, divided into a number of sections and themes.

Rickreall Creek

Rickreall Creek

The site sits next to La Creole Creek, later renamed as Rickreall Creek, and a couple of rapids along its length means your trip through the arboretum has running water as the backdrop. That immediately provides a sense of calm. The land was sculpted by early logging activities that scoured out new channels so that logs could be floated down river. Over time, that damaged the river and Delbert Hunter was the driving force behind its restoration.

Manzanita and Dicentra


Today, the young arboretum has seven trails, such as the meadow trail, dogwood loop, Oregon grape loop and the flume trail. There are also small inset gardens like the Lewisia garden, and fern garden. Most of the major plants have easy read signs, and they are certainly up to date with naming – replacing Mahonia with Berberis.

For our visit, the arboretum floor was a tapestry of wood hyacinths, trillium and fawn lilies. Trees were just coming into bud and some of the dogwoods were blooming. Adding to the color were Dicentra, Oregon Grape, Ribes and more. It was a true delight.

Moss and Lichen on Dogwood

So, if you find yourself in the vicinity of Dallas, Oregon and have an hour to spare, give this small, hidden, volunteer run arboretum a visit. I know I will back to see it at different seasons.

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