Monday, November 18, 2019

On the Road Again: The Vaughn Garden in Salem


By Bryce Williamson

After a too short visit to the Keppel garden—it would be possible to spend days there watching the bloom unfold, it was on the road again this time to head south of Salem to the garden of Kevin Vaughn.

Vaughn T-18-1
A tetraploid MTB voted  best seeding at the 2018 Region 14 Spring meeting.
When Kevin retired from the USDA job, he found 3 acres south of Salem. Just as Lynda Miller had provided a short cut to get to her garden, Kevin had told me a quicker way to get to his garden by skirting the east side of Salem before cutting over to his place on
River Road.

Kevin brings a wealth of scientific knowledge to irises and he as been a frequent and useful contributor to The World of Irises blog. While working for the USDA, he published over 160 scientific papers and recently he wrote Beardless Irises A Plant for Every Garden Situation and is now working on a book about median irises. His Louisiana irises have won awards and in 2019, his ‘Lemon Zest’ was one for the winners of the Mary Swords Deballion Medal for Louisiana irises.

He has been raising Siberians and out of the selections below, several will be introduced when stock allows.









His hybridizing interests in irises ranging from dwarfs through tall bearded and including in addition to the above Siberian seedlings, Louisianas and Spurias, and that interest is match also  by his interest in hybridizing other types of plants too. In his twenties, Kevin was a bright star of hosta breeding and the American Hosta Society have honored Kevin's contributions to the development of the genus Hosta by establishing in 2001 the Kevin Vaughn Award, which is given to the entered sport that is chosen as Best Overall by the AHS Judges.

With a new garden, Kevin has returned to hosta hybridizing something that he could not do during his years stationed in the South for USDA.

From his early teens, he was interested in breeding sempervivums and continues to do so. To find out more about his creations in that area, follow the this link. Daylilies and daffodils have experienced his touch; most recently he has seed from miniature gladiolus. A trip to this garden is always rewarding.


In the last two years, one of the most interested bearded irises in the yard is a Witt seedling—Kevin is growing the last of Jean Witt’s irises and the first of the selections, ‘Just A Dusting’, will be introduced by Aitken’s Salmon Creek in 2020. The most interesting diploid iris in the garden is the reddest beard iris any of us have seen. It will never be introduced since it is too big for the MTB class, but some of us are growing it in the hopes of using tetraploid pollen on it and get—if we are very lucky—a tetraploid from those crosses that should bring new a new source of red pigments into tall bearded irises.


To make sure he does not get stale in retirement, he is also an accomplished musician playing wind instruments, mainly oboe, in Salem Symphonic Winds, Salem Orchestra and Winds of the Willamette wind quintet.  From time to time he also plays for musicals and other groups.

In between checking out plants and great conversation that continued over dinner at Roberts Crossing Restaurant on River Road (why can't we have a high quality, reasonable priced eatery in my neighborhood like this?), Kevin and I made a dash to Larry Lauer's garden nearby garden and that will be the subject of my next 'On the Road Again' post.


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