Jacksonville in Jackson County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
Peter Britt: A Passion for His Garden
An avid gardener, Britt surrounded his home with ornamental shrubs and exotic trees, which he started planting in the 1850s. Among Britt's most unusual botanical specimens was an Abyssinian banana tree which, when it was small, had to be dug up and taken indoors each winter. Rhododendrons, palms, bay trees, cypress and Chinese wisteria also graced his gardens. Towering over the grounds today is a giant sequoia tree, which was planted by Peter to honor the birth of his son Emil in 1862.
To keep his garden watered, Britt installed an innovative irrigation system fed by a mile-long ditchdrawing water from nearby Jackson Creek. The Britt Ditch is now the Sarah Zigler Trail.
The Britt solarium housed cactus, kumquats, pomegranates, lemons, oranges, and coffee trees. They all bloomed and bore fruit.
According to an old family story, in 1854, an Italian peddler from California sold Britt his first fruit trees and grape cuttings. When Peter planted these in his garden he laid the earliest foundation for Southern Oregon's wine and orchard industries. As Britt acquired more property, he developed a twenty-acre commercial orchard and expansive grape vineyards on a
Britt was acquainted with horticulturalists throughout the country and stayed well informed on the latest cultivation methods. In his orchards he used smudge pots to protect his trees from frost and honey bees to improve pollination.
Notations in his diary indicate Britt planted many grapes in 1861. By the 1870s, after having experimented with 2000 varieties, Peter was marketing wine under his Valley View Vineyard label. Because of his knowledge and experience, agriculturalists frequently sought his advice as they established their own fruit crops.
Britt Park became the showplace of Southern Oregon. For 20 years it was featured in most northwest railroad advertising. It was only after the family was gone that the garden became overgrown and the tropical imports perished.
When Peter Britt died in 1905, the community where he lived for 53 years felt the loss deeply. He was eulogized with the following: “He was a gentleman of perfect honor, ... he lives in the noble deeds of a well-spent life; in the forces which his intellect set in motion!”
Peter Britt's impact on early photography and the area's horticulture remain keys to the rich heritage of the Pacific Northwest.
Erected by Jacksonville-Applegate Rotary / Southern Oregon Historical Society / JV Woodlands Association.
Location. 42° 18.874′ N, 122° 58.268′ W. Marker is in Jacksonville, Oregon, in Jackson County. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Jacksonville OR 97530, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Peter Britt: Man of Culture and Commerce (within shouting distance of this marker); The Britt House: Simple Frame to Cottage Gothic (within shouting distance of this marker); Britt Sequoia (within shouting distance of this marker); Undermining the Great Depression (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); World War II Three Trees Memorial (about 400 feet away); History Right Here - Furniture Fabrication (about 500 feet away); China Quarter (about 500 feet away); History Right Here - Going for the Gold (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jacksonville.
Categories. • Agriculture • Horticulture & Forestry •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. This page has been viewed 45 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 3, 2018, by Douglass Halvorsen of Klamath Falls, Oregon. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.