Ruff Park Bursts into Bloom

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Thousands of magnolia buds are blooming on hundreds of trees at Willamalane Park and Recreation District’s Wallace M. Ruff Jr. Memorial Park in Springfield.

Deciduous magnolias bear huge, pale or bright pink blooms on gray, leafless limbs. This grand but short-lived show is a popular attraction in Thurston.

Wallace M. Ruff Jr. Memorial Park was established in 1992 by Wallace “Mack” Ruff Sr., a University of Oregon landscape architecture professor and artist, in memory of his son. Ruff Sr. wanted to create the largest magnolia arboretum west of the Mississippi River.

The park underwent a series of improvements in November. These include an access driveway from 66th Street, a paved parking lot with accessible parking spaces, paved trails, benches, bike racks and additional landscaping.

These changes make the area more accessible to park visitors, especially those with limited mobility or experiencing a disability.

Those who don’t make it out to see the floral display in person can take a virtual tour or the magnolias at the Ruff Park page.

There are two ways to reach the park. Turn north off Thurston Road at 66th Street. The park is on the right. Or, go through the Levi Landing housing development on Thurston Road. A paved pathway connects the development to the park.

A group of volunteers known as Friends of Ruff Park meets regularly to pull weeds, transplant seedlings and prune magnolias. Upcoming work party dates include Saturdays, March 18, and April 22, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Call 541-736-4104 to join Friends of Ruff Park.

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