Peter Britt: A Passion for His Garden

Peter Britt: A Passion for His Garden (HM2B64)

Location: Central Point, OR 97502 Jackson County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 18.874', W 122° 58.268'

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Peter Britt was one of Jacksonville's best known and respected pioneers. He is remembered for the pictures he took and the plants he grew.

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

ranch about outside of Jacksonville.

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.
HM NumberHM2B64
Placed ByJacksonville-Applegate Rotary / Southern Oregon Historical Society / JV Woodlands Association
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 at 8:03pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)10T E 502378 N 4684703
Decimal Degrees42.31456667, -122.97113333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 18.874', W 122° 58.268'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 18' 52.44" N, 122° 58' 16.08" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)541
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 320 S 1st St, Central Point OR 97502, US
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