Gigi’s Windflower Farm

I expected to enjoy Gigi Meyer’s open house in Alfalfa at her Windflower Farm, because she always creates a welcoming environment. This year, even during the hottest part of our high desert summer, her event seemed better than ever with fresh gourmet foods, icy cold beverages, and fine live music.

The entire farm looks different. That’s because of Windflower’s increased acreage providing lots of room for additional rows of the colorful flowers Gigi loves to grow.

There are new greenhouses, of course for more flowers, and with space for growing a variety of gourmet-quality organic vegetables. Everything on the Farm is grown using sustainable practices. Rounding out Windflower’s offerings are goats, pigs, and chickens. All the Farm’s animals are Animal Wefare Approved (AWA), ensuring their excellent care. Plus, Windflower provides horse boarding.

In fact, after parking, a visitor’s first sight is of Gigi’s big warmblood gelding, his head hanging over a paddock fence and ears erect with lots of curiosity. He’s as sweet as one might guess. Many of the horses are huge warmblood beauties, but while looking around I met a lovely smaller horse.

Turning from the horses and exiting the barn, one sees stretching ahead a mass of color with walkways threading between or circling rows of gorgeous blooming varieties. Gigi and her crew are artists, and Windflower provides flowers for restaurants, large events, smaller special occasions, and weddings. Clients trust her team’s design suggestions and arrangements.

I joined a growing crowd of open house visitors chatting casually and admiring the hospitality setup. Many folks were positioned at tables under huge shade trees and enjoying platefulls of scrumptious foods.

While admiring the scene, I spotted a longtime friend, Fabrice Boudoin, an excellent French Chef who’s currently Lodge Chef at Sunriver Resort. Ten years ago, when he was Pronghorn Resort’s chef, Fabrice introduced me to Gigi and Windflower. For the current open house, he pointed toward a special pie he’d baked, but before I could get over for a sample, his pie had disappeared.

Moving on toward the greenhouses, I came across a drying shed with bunches of hanging garlic.

I paused awhile to consider my feelings. Something about the combination of summer heat, earthy smells, beauty, color, and space, tickled my imagination. I suddenly felt transported from a city environment, and had a wild urge to hop on that big black gelding with a white-nose blaze, and fly (certainly, he’d have flown) over to Reynolds Pond for a long ride among canal trails.

Hugs to you, Gigi, for your admirable work and inspiring progress. And many thanks for inviting me over for a very memorable return to Windflower.

Contact information for Gigi Meyer: Windflower Farm, 26285 Walker Rd., Alfalfa, OR 97701. Phone 541-678-3166. Email: Give Windflower Farm a LIKE on Facebook.

Best, from Diana: Trail Rider — Please leave your feedback, to help improve my blogs…and do click the link to follow my blogs.






Early Bend, Clever Alex, Dreamy George

I’m carrying a camera and entering Bend’s historic Drake Park, which is adjacent to companion landmarks that represent the city’s frontier era. Strolling here fuels my fantasies about the city’s early history and its growing pains. In my imagination old Bend lives again. I look around and imagine how I might have felt living here early in the 20th Century, as this speck of a place became a city, and through its following years as home to huge lumber mills that brought prosperity.

Many early-Oregon citizens were educated. Portland’s engaged population comprised the state’s most powerful voice. Little “Farewell Bend” was semi-isolated east of the Cascade Mountains. Some recent Oregonians had chosen independently to move west. Others had been beckoned by the 1862 Homestead Act which encouraged adventurers, including single women, to go west and earn “160 acres of public land”. Central Oregon’s complex environment and demanding soils required diligent physical labor. Homesteaders who found the challenges too difficult and unrewarding, and tossed in the towel, often gravitated to Bend, Portland, or Seattle.

Throughout history, movers and shakers have left us solid evidence of their dreams, creativity, and  powerful personalities. Often, in Drake Park I pause to study plaques that immortalize Bend’s almost-earliest settler, the iconic Alexander Drake. His creative vision, talent, and affluence initiated a brand new city.

Alexander Drake, Deschutes History Museum Photo

The Drakes joined Central Oregon’s tiny pioneering population, after leaving the eastern states and its lumber mill industry and reaching the west in a horse-drawn wagon. Drake, an entrepreneur who understood the lumber business and the value of publicity, knew that eastern investors would appreciate the west’s massive forest lands. An investor himself, he could see the financial potential in a large expanse of land with mature pines. At Central Oregon’s Deschutes River, he found a remote place called “Farewell Bend”, and a huge expanse of undeveloped land loaded with giant ponderosa trees.

Drake Lodge Site Marker by Deschutes History Museum

Around 1900, Farewell Bend had few residents. Drake purchased farmlands to acquire property on both sides of the River. The Drakes loved the area, and selected a beautiful spot near one of the River’s bends, where they built a roomy “Lodge”.

DrakeHomestead2 Hist Museum File

The Drake Lodge, Deschutes History Museum Photo

Drake also built a lumber mill, powered by water, south of his anticipated township. He then surveyed and platted the city-to-be, locating it near the River and his Lodge.

Historical Marker at original Drake Lodge Site

“Farewell Bend” was a distinctive spot along the Deschutes River, where traveling convoys often separated and took leave to continue in different directions. Travelers approaching Farewell Bend from different directions identified it as a meeting place. Drake wanted to name his new city Farewell Bend, but the Post Office already had a Farewell Bend so shortened Drake’s city to “Bend”.


A River bend beside Drake’s Lodge site, flow from west turns north, author’s photo

Central Oregon’s early mills, lacking a railroad, couldn’t ship lumber products over distances. Thus Bend’s mills were local businesses operating with water power and small numbers of workers.


Drake Lodge Site Marker, Deschutes History Museum

Central Oregon could not grow significantly, in population or prosperity, without an operating railroad capable of supporting a major logging industry. Rails would have to come across complex and mountainous territory from Hood River to Bend. Railroad wars were common in the west where competition to lay rails often became wildly violent. Finally, in 1908, at Drake’s urging, documentation, and persistent predictions of business potential, two railroads began laying rail toward Central Oregon and competing to reach Bend.


Drake Lodge Site Marker, Deschutes History Museum

New rails being laid from Hood River south toward Bend spurred local economies along the projected route. Eastern speculators interested in Bend invested, sight-unseen, in property. The already-existing Bend anticipated explosions in population and wealth. On Wall Street, commercial establishments dominated, and one block away on Bond Street, saloons and brothels entertained Bend’s wild and wooly crowd.

In 1911, the tracks reached Bend, and promptly, giant lumber mills followed. For the young city, rails and mills brought the prosperity that Drake had projected. Bend’s big mills had enormous capacity and high production. In those early industrial days, citizens complained about witnessing the massive destruction of Bend’s surrounding forests. Those early mills did gobble vast local natural resources, but their industrial age capabilities were considerably less invasive and destructive than the technologies that worry us today.

Drake achieved his biggest goals, and today an historical plaque, and three surviving elderly Ponderosas, mark for us the location of his Lodge site. The Drake Lodge was razed in the 1950s before anyone imagined a value in saving old structures. But Bend never forgot the Drakes. The Deschutes, and one of its impressive bends, are centerpieces in the beautiful Drake Park, a popular expanse surrounded by lovely old homes.


Drake Park, author’s photos

Early settlers established lumber mills, the newspaper, and shops. The city’s growth attracted dentists, doctors, and lawyers. The wealthiest built large homes near Drake’s Lodge and close to downtown. Today some of those homes are registered historic sites, well-maintained, and boast​ official markers. Locals and tourists enjoy recreating in Drake Park, and nearby, admiring elegant old homes while strolling through history.

I’m leaving the Park and crossing over to Congress Street, where like many I’m particularly drawn to the 1911 home of Bend’s very famous newspaperman, George Palmer Putnam. That handsome young man’s turn-of-the-century adventures in Central Oregon were swashbuckling.



George Palmer Putnam, Deschutes History Museum Photos

Putnam arrived after spending time in Northern California where he went to school, climbed Mt. Whitney, and met his finance, Dorothy Binny, heiress to the Crayola fortune. Putnam was young, tall, strong, had attended Harvard and Berkley, and hailed from eastern buckets of wealth. His family long had been successful in the publishing business. He and Dorothy were natural counterparts.


George and Dorothy Putnam, Deschutes History Museum Photo

He could have chosen to go east and assume a publishing career, but in 1909 became attracted to Oregon’s ongoing, often violent battle between the railroad barons competing for rail ownership from the Columbia River to Bend. Railroad workers had lain rail over complex territory clear to Shaniko, but reaching Bend required another 100 miles of rail through mountainous territory. The winning railroad would acquire the major prize of hauling Bend’s lumber products to markets everywhere.

On his initial trip to Bend, Putnam’s stressful journey from the Columbia River into the heart of Central Oregon began with a day-long train ride to Shaniko where the tracks ended. The final leg of his journey, that additional 100 miles to Bend, were 20 hours of unrelenting misery in a horse-drawn transport.

Putnam described his final lap:

One hundred miles of staging–five hundred and twenty-eight thousand feet of dust, if it be summer, or mud, if it be winter; Heaven knows how many chuck holes, how many ruts, how many bumps! The ride, commencing at eight one evening, ended about six the next. No early Christian martyr was more thoroughly bruised and stiffened at the hands of Roman mobs than the tenderfoot traveler on the memorable Shaniko-Bend journey! And there were so many rich possibilities–nay, probabilities–of diversion. Winter blizzards on Shaniko Flats were to be expected, while after thaws the heavy stages “bogged down” with aggravating regularity.
(From In The Oregon Country, by George Palmer Putnam, 1915, G.P. Putnam’s Sons.)

Soon after arriving in Bend, Putnam signed onto The Oregonian to report on the railroad wars. His coverage of railroad battles and rail progress captured all the gun-slinging frontier excitement in that mad race between transportation giants. In his reporting, Putnam walked with the rail-layers and on foot covered the entire distance from Hood River to Bend.

Shortly after he began working for the Bend Bulletin, Putnam purchased it, becoming its editor, publisher, and regular correspondent. He collaborated with other city leaders, was a founding member of Bend’s Emblem Club, an early version of the Chamber of Commerce. His paper influenced community decisions, and eventually he upgraded it from a weekly to a daily.

In 1911, there were two milestones: the railroad finally reached Bend; and also, after their 10-month engagement, Putnam married Dorothy, his tall, athletic east-coast fiance.


Dorothy in wedding dress, Deschutes Historical Museum Photo

The couple through correspondence mutually had designed their new house. He built it at the end of Congress Street, near his downtown “Bulletin” office. They named their large, brown-shingled bungalow “Pinelyn”. Nowadays thick plant growth obstructs a lens trying to capture Pinelyn.



  Putnam House Today, Author’s Photos

The internet offers clearer images.



Air B&B Photos



     Natl. Historic Landmark Photo        Natl. Registry of Historic Places Photo

The Putnams were outdoorsy and competitive. They camped, fished, canoed, and climbed the nearby Cascades. After the birth of their son, David, they included him in their adventures. Dorothy loved Bend, became a civic and cultural leader, and among other activities raised funds for cancer–then a little-known disease. She brought in speakers who supported the suffrage movement–and in 1912, the “inland city” of Bend was critical in winning the expanded “right to vote”. She turned Pinelyn into a busy social center with dinner parties, entertainments, and costumed gatherings. On a lot beside their home, the couple built a neighborhood tennis court.


The Putnams at Pinelyn, Deschutes History Museum Photo

In 1912, the 25-year-old “boy editor” became Bend’s second mayor, replacing the mayor-elect who died after falling from a second-story window. Under Putnam’s watch, Bend became more civil. The prostitutes began leaving, gambling became more orderly and unobtrusive, and saloons kept stricter hours, discouraged drunkenness and disallowed fights. Mayor Putnam also okayed Bend’s first sewer lines.

In 1916, Putnam left Bend, moving to Salem as secretary to Oregon’s Governor. In 1919, after his father died, he reluctantly returned to the East Coast and entered his family’s publishing business. Putnam for many years retained his Bend home, while becoming a famous eastern publicist. Later he also married Amelia Earhart–but that’s another story.

Looking back through time revitalizes the successes of those who followed their dreams, believed in their skills, and used their voices. They’re inspirational, creative, and enjoyed good living. Bend today, a sophisticated city, still retains a lingering flavor of old frontier days.

Bend is fun, but what a great history to have witnessed, first-hand, in its early years!

Diana Levey, on June 7, 2017


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Springtime! At Madras Garden Depot

My citron cockatoo, Peaches, and I took a road trip to Madras, 50 miles north, to visit Karen McCarthy’s Madras Garden Depot. The nursery is located at Madras’s north end, on Highway 26. It’s a large facility with two easy-access entrances and lots of parking for large and small vehicles.

We arrived in early afternoon, just as Karen was beginning to show a group of customers how to plant bare-root fruit and shade trees.


“Hello Garden Depot!”

I intended to roam among plants inside the greenhouse and surrounding structures and enjoy a stronger feeling of Spring!  Plus, I wanted to photograph Peaches and catch up with Karen who’s a long-time friend.

A huge greenhouse dominates numerous display areas.  The afternoon was warm and inside the greenhouse even warmer. Both north and south doors were open and a fan system operating.

Inside the greenhouse, tropical paradise.

Interesting craft structures surround the greenhouse. Some are decorative and some showcase colorful plant arrangements. Throughout the nursery many varieties of plants and sprouts were set or hanging–and vividly colorful: Springtime!

Plants inside the greenhouse, and quaint surrounding structures.

While Karen demonstrated bare-root facts, Peaches and I wandered, admiring rows of blooming plants–in nursery flats, individual planters, and unique special containers. Beyond the greenhouse, we moseyed among tables covered with plants and arranged artistically. Everything reflects Karen’s very green thumb and fine sense of humor.

Handmade planters, garden decorations, jewelry, from local artisans.

The Garden Depot also carries non-plant items. You’ll see select and unique handmade jewelry and antique findings from local artists.  Displays are arranged to balance the various components, and throughout the nursery balanced designs are apparent.

Color everywhere!

Karen always has loved planting and gardening. She’s a Master Gardner. Years ago, she began working for the large corporation that originally established and owned the Madras Garden Depot. She learned plant knowledge and handling techniques and became a full-fledged gardening expert. After several years in nursery management and lots of hands-on work in the nursery, Karen learned that the corporation doubted whether nursery business suited its long-range plans. She saw an opportunity, bought the Depot, and has never looked back.

While Peaches and I took pictures, Karen helped customers learn about plants’ parts, planting, and nurturing.

Karen demonstrates bare root elements and planting techniques.

Hot tea and cookies always are ready for customers and friends to enjoy on the loading dock. (Have you ever seen a loading dock that’s both casual and beautiful? Karen’s is!)

Tea and cookies on the loading dock.

The Garden Depot welcomes folks like guests, into a comfortable environment. Visitors aren’t pressured to buy, but help is available if needed. Karen and her knowledgeable staff understand everything about plants and planting–especially which plants do or don’t grow in Central Oregon’s complex soils.


Crabapple baby!

The Madras Garden Depot, open Tuesdays through Sundays, is located at 1665 N. Highway 26, in Madras, Oregon 97741. Phone 541-475-2068. Garden Depot has a Facebook page–please visit it, and LIKE it. Karen and staff would appreciate lots of likes. If you have questions, stop in, phone, or email to:

Soon I’ll travel there again, for some of Karen’s vigorously thriving tomato plants!


Photos by the author. Thanks for reading and following,


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“Mustangs to the Rescue” Open House

On a recent beautiful Central Oregon afternoon, a non-profit organization, Mustangs to the Rescue (MTTR), hosted an open house to introduce itself to the Bend community and showcase its new facility. Organizers planned for visitors to gather information about equine rescue and MTTR’s purpose, history, and operation.

MTTR is a non-profit, all-breed equine rescue that has moved from a nearby community into southwestern Bend. It’s large quarters are on a property boasting stalls and pens for rescues, a big barn and an indoor arena. Some horses are ready for adoption while others are being socialized and trained for potential adopters who love and appreciate horses.

The open house’s well-wishers could listen to talented musicians, select from a variety of used tack, and bid on very cool auction items, including a stunning western-themed quilt. Out behind the barn a popular chuck wagon rustled up coffee and snacks.

The paddocks contained horses in various sizes, colors, and stages of socialization.

Youngsters wearing riding gear, on horseback exercised rescues, others lunged horses, and some stayed busy grooming. With permission from event monitors, viewers offered treats to socialized horses.


MTTR is Kate Beardsley’s brainchild. She’s a well-known Central Oregon equine expert who’s spent years rescuing, rehabilitating, and training horses. She’s also a certified wilderness tracker, often tapped to locate and retrieve lost humans and animals. For years, Kate dreamed of creating MTTR while personally rescuing and re-homing horses. In 2012 MTTR received its official non-profit status. Her dream become reality.

Along with its focus on helping horses, MTTR conducts outreach programs. It educates and supports guardian-owners, wranglers, horseback riders, and folks interested in learning about equines. Outreach stresses appropriate interaction and care.

The Rescue depends on its helpers who have energy and commitment. Daily, volunteers assist with MTTR’s operations to maintain its success. They do all sorts of work, often until late in the day, managing chores–feeding, cleaning, grooming, exercising, and training.

For the long term, the Rescue must remain viable and become long-lasting, with ever-increasing effectiveness in rescuing and saving wild, unwanted, and mistreated horses. Volunteers who rehabilitate rescues are work-focused and love the animals.

You will, too! If you enjoy horses and want “equine fixes”, visit MTTR. Get in touch and learn from the Rescue, or volunteer and help with the animals. You’ll love participating and join a terrific group of folks, all ages, who love horses.

Considering adopting? Check out MTTR’s gorgeous mares, geldings, and occasional donkeys, all awaiting homes. Kate and crew understand how to help identify the best match for your lifestyle.

The Rescue’s Phone: 541-330-8943; website:; email address:

Pictures by the author plus MTTR stock photos.

Remember, be kind, ride safely, seek good trails, and always wear a helmet.

Diana, “Trail Rider in Central Oregon”, email:

(P.S. I’d love feedback about this blog and suggestions for future topics.)