Much is rightly made of Portland's Japanese Garden, which expanded this year. But few know that Portland has a public Scottish garden just as large, and in many ways just as lovely.
On Dunthorpe's Elk Rock bluff facing Mount Hood and the river, flush from the grain business, a turn-of-the-20th-century Scotsman named Peter Kerr built himself a 13-acre garden manse in the old English style befitting naturalists and romantics—a place of winding paths and fish ponds and streams that is carefully tended to appear somewhat untended. At the Elk Rock Garden at the Bishop's Close, there is an almost unfathomable bounty of plant life. Rare magnolias and chrysanthemums bloom, wisteria snarls against the manor walls, and bishop's hat nestles against the oaks. Witch hazel grows in the parterres, where curving paths are lined with low hedges, and Japanese paper bush grows to the height of a man.
In Oregon's wealthiest neighborhood by real estate pricing, Elk Rock Garden is a place of uncommon serenity that is accessible to all. And in a sort of photo negative of Oswego Lake, it is a private garden that is always open to the public. After Kerr's death in 1957, his children donated it to the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon on the sole condition that it always be available to the public at no charge. And so it is, from 8 to 5 every single day at 11800 SW Military Lane.