Each March, a magnificent series of blooms arrive to awaken our souls with the awakening soil. The magnolia trees of Eugene are a favorite of mine with their enormous yet delicately feminine flowers. Magnolia trees blossoms across Eugene in parks and neighboring yards in shades ranging from white to fuchsia. The best spot I have found to view myriad varietals of magnolia is at the Rhododendron Garden at Hendricks Park. There are over 1,000 rhododendron as well as hundreds of magnolia in the garden with some rare varietals and hybrid species. The rhododendrons (aka rhodies) blossom starting in February and ending in June, but are at their peak in April and May.
The rhodies range from white to red to purple and pink. They can also be found out wild in the forests of Oregon and give the boreal forests a truly tropical feel.
As beautiful as the rhodies are, I really recommend getting yourself to the Hendricks Park in early to mid March to spot the magnolia trees.
Give each blossom you find a good whiff. Really stop to smell the magnolias. They will be blossoming through March. There are still several unbloomed trees waiting for the next sunny day to open themselves to you.
And there are others that have already blossomed and are trying to hang on through this rain.
Keep a lookout around the base of the plants. Many of the plants in the Rhododendron Garden have placards with their genus and species so you can easily identify the varietal. This way you can head to the local garden supplier such as Gray's Gardens or Down to Earth and ask for the exact varietal for your dream garden.
If you are interested in volunteering in the gardens or want to know more about the park, check out Friends of Hendricks Park.
There are many trails in Hendricks Park. It is almost 80 acres with 58 of those acres being forested with some 200 year old Doug Firs. Hendricks Park is the oldest park in the city, but has one of the newest trailheads in town. The Ribbon Trail can be found starting in Hendricks Park and is the eastern head of the Ridgeline Trail system. I attempted the connector section through Summit Blvd. to the Summit Blvd trailhead and on up to Mount Baldy. This made for about 6 miles roundtrip from Hendricks Park, and much of it was in the Summit Blvd neighborhood rather than on trail, but the Ribbon Trail section is definitely worth checking out as are all of the little side trails that meander through Hendricks Park. They are definitely all worth exploring, especially this time of year with all of the trilliums blossoming along in the undergrowth.
I recommend biking to Hendricks Park when possible. It can easily be found if you bike east on 19th Ave. There is a steep hill whether you come up Summit Avenue or Fairmount Blvd. but you will feel like a champ when you get to the top. And you will help preserve the serenity of this local treasure. There is also a bike lockup ring at the base of the hill on Summit Avenue if you would rather park at the base of the hill.