Taking root among the rocks

Left, Sarah Russ and Gail Klodzinski, owner of Rock Garden Nursery, show the rock garden they planted in front of the Ranch and Rodeo Museum on Main Street in John Day. The Eagle/ Cheryl Hoefler

JOHN DAY – Something new is sprouting for area rock garden lovers.

The Painted Hills chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society has just celebrated its first anniversary.

The chapter was formed after Gail Klodzinski, owner of Rock Garden Nursery in John Day, and fellow enthusiast Sarah Russ attended a winter study weekend held by NARGS in Medford. With no chapter closer to Grant County than Medford, Portland or Eugene, Klodzinski and Russ decided to form their own. 

The group, with about 20 members so far, holds monthly meetings. 

Last month Klodzinski, Russ and fellow member Maryann Blem planted a rock garden in front of the Ranch and Rodeo Museum in John Day. The project fulfills part of their mission to build and maintain a public garden for the community’s enjoyment, and to increase awareness about NARGS.

Klodzinski said that the garden has special significance for the group.

Many of the Painted Hills chapter members work at Blue Mountain Hospital, she explained, and took care of the late Janyce Bond while she was a patient there.

“We found out about her involvement in the museum and decided this would be a great project in her memory,” Klodzinski said

A plaque with Bond’s name will be added later. The garden will be maintained by all members of the chapter.

Due to its sunny location and the town deer population, the garden contains deer resistant and drought-tolerant plants donated by Rock Garden Nursery.

Klodzinski said she started the nursery, now in its fifth year, because “gardening is my hobby and passion.”

She said she also had a hard time finding the kinds of plants she wanted – drought tolerant, deer resistant, hardy and unusual specialty herbs, and rock garden plants.

Helping her run the business are her significant other, John Candy, his son, Kevin, and her son, Terry.

They have built demonstration gardens which serve not only as a trial area for plants, but also give people an idea of what the plants will look like as they mature.

Klodzinski encourages anyone interested in joining the Painted Hills chapter, to give her a call or stop by the nursery. 

She said it would be fun to share rock garden experiences in the different “microclimates” around the county.

“The goals are just to have fun with plants and projects.”

Rock Garden Nursery is located at 767 E. Main St., John Day, and can be reached at 541-420-4720. Open hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Monday, from April 1 to Oct. 1.

For more information about the nursery, email to: gailkathryn9@hotmail.com. For the Painted Hills chapter of NARGS, email to paintedhillsrockgarden@gmail.com

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