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Business of the Year: The Oregon Garden, Resort, Foundation lauded

Oregon Garden’s Gift
The Oregon Garden and Resort are
celebrating the Business of the Year Award
and thanking Silverton residents for their
support by offering discounts during February.

Silverton residents will receive 50 percent
off admission to the Garden and 25 percent
off food and beverages in the Fireside Lounge
at the Oregon Garden Resort (excluding
Feb. 12-14 in the Lounge). Residents must
show proof of residency for both discounts.

By Steve Ritchie

Ten years ago, the future of The Oregon Garden looked uncertain at best. The high hopes supporters had when the attraction opened in 1999 had faded by 2005, battered by a large debt and declining attendance. There were headlines in local papers about The Oregon Garden, but it wasn’t the kind of publicity the Garden wanted.

Today, the news about The Oregon Garden is positive again. Attendance at the Garden is growing, its Christmas in the Garden attracted 36,000 visitors, the adjoining Oregon Garden Resort is thriving. Dollars from Garden visitors and Oregon Garden Resort guests are flowing into Silverton businesses.

The Garden’s future plans are exciting, with an expansion which will make it one of the largest public botanical gardens in the world and provide additional lodging.

This dramatic turn-around has generated a buzz around the community and an honor: Silverton Business of the Year for 2015, awarded by the Silverton Chamber of Commerce. Included in the honor are The Oregon Garden Resort and the Oregon Garden Foundation. The Oregon Garden Foundation board is responsible for fundraising and oversight of the Garden, but it is operated by Moonstone Garden Management, a branch of Moonstone Hotel Properties, which owns The Oregon Garden Resort. ​

Oregon Garden Marketing Manager Brittney Hatteberg said the numbers confirm the positive impact the Garden is having on the community.

“​In 2015, we saw 153,672 guests visit the Garden, up from about 125,000 in 2014,” Hatteberg said. “We are honored to receive this recognition. Bringing visitors to our wonderful city and sharing the Silverton community spirit is an important part of our mission.”

Hatteberg took time out from setting up for the recent Quilt Show at the Garden to elaborate on the importance of the special events at the Garden.

“We put on about nine public events each year, in addition to 20 educational programs for adults and children. ​These events are extremely important to us, because they allow us to expose people to the Garden, people who may not visit otherwise. For instance, many of our Brewfest attendees probably wouldn’t think of coming to a botanical garden, ​but after they’ve enjoyed it during Brewfest, many of ​them become Garden members or visit during other seasons. Some even choose to get married here. The events also allow us to advertise through different avenues, and work with great partners in the community. We have had a lot of fun working with local businesses and organizations to promote them through our events, while also promoting the Garden and Silverton as a whole.”

A key to the Garden’s success is the visitors who stay overnight at the Oregon Garden Resort or at other lodging in town. Based on a survey by the Silverton Chamber of Commerce last year, couples visiting Silverton tend to spend $200-$300 during an overnight stay, including lodging, entertainment, restaurants and shopping.  Hatteberg says overnight stays at the Resort have increased along with Garden attendance. Hatteberg noted several recent additions to the Garden, including “rare conifers, rare orchids and an extensive fuchsia installation. We are always excited to work with nurseries and growers to feature new and rare products.”

In 2015, the Silverton City Council approved the sale of 2.28 acres of the 80-acre Pettit property to Moonstone to be developed into a “high-end pub, restaurant and inn.” The plan is for some of the property to be leased to The Oregon Garden Foundation to become an extension of the Garden. There are plans for a 10-acre city park on the property. ​

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