In 1929 Herman Ohme purchased 40 acres of land for an orchard. Included was a craggy, dry, desolate, rock-strewn bluff with a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River valley below. Herman and his new bride, Ruth, loved to stand on the bluff and dream of flourishing alpine meadows, shimmering pools and shady evergreen pathways where the hot, relentless summer sun allowed only sage and scrub desert growth. They set their minds on achieving that dream.
Small evergreens were transplanted from the nearby Cascade Mountains, native stone was hauled to form paths and borders, desert sage gave way to low-growing ground cover, and pools took shape adjacent to massive natural rock formations. It was hard work, done mostly by hand, and truly a labor of love. In the beginning, sustaining the Gardens meant hand watering using five-gallon milk cans, but eventually the Ohmes constructed an elaborate irrigation system that pumped water to the site.
Initially intended as a family retreat, the interest of friends and community members prompted the Herman and Ruth to open their private oasis to the public. They continued to perfect the Gardens for 42 years, until 1971 when Herman died at the age of 80. The couple's son Gordon and his family then assumed responsibility for the Gardens. In 1991 the family sold the Gardens and surrounding property to Washington State Parks to preserve them for the public and for generations to come. The Gardens are now owned and managed by Chelan County.