Annual Holiday event attracts hundreds to Leach Botanical Garden

Why, in winter weather, do folks flock to one particular unique outer East Portland garden? Take a look, and you’ll understand the natural attraction …

Mary Baker and Cindy Russell shop at the Leach Garden Holiday Bazaar.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On the first Friday and Saturday each December, people from all over the metro area make a point to drive to SE 122nd Avenue, just south of SE Foster Road, to shop for Holiday decorations and food at the annual Leach Garden Holiday Bazaar.

“Some say it’s the best way to kick off the Holiday season,” grinned Lana Younglove, who coordinates the greenery and decorating items at the event.

Greenery coordinator Lana Younglove shows off some of the living greenery that’s for sale at the annual Leach Garden Holiday Bazaar.

“People come to shop for bulk greens and cones, wreaths & swags, and centerpieces,” added Younglove. “And a dozen or more volunteers help put the display together, and help out during the event.”

Volunteers from “Friends of Leach Garden” pitch in to help shoppers pick out items, take them to cash registers, and sometimes help them to their vehicles – parked across the bridge that spans Johnson Creek.

Friends of Leach Garden volunteer Vera Grenz helps baked-goods coordinator Bonnie Hodge restock just one of several tables, all laden with the perennially sought-after goodies.

Inside the Leach Manor dining room, customers come to shop for the baked goods displayed on three tables – and to enjoy a cup of hot cider.

“We have as many as 20 of our volunteers contribute their specialties,” confided baked- goods coordinator Bonnie Hodge.

“Everybody who is familiar with this event comes in looking for their special baked goods,” Hodge told us. “The shortbread cakes are a favorite item, but we have all kinds of goodies here, including pinwheels and spreads. This year, we offered our widest variety of baked goods ever – and candies too!”

Inside the Leach Manor’s great room, it looks – and smells – a lot like Christmas!

Asked why the volunteers work so diligently on this effort, Younglove said, “Because our foundation keeps up the operation of the garden; we need money badly. We’re a nonprofit organization, and every dime counts.”

Leach Botanical Garden holds special events all year long. It is located at 6704 SE 122nd Avenue (park in the lot across the bridge over Johnson Creek) – just two long, winding blocks south of Foster Road.

For more information, call (503) 823-9503 or see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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