Look here – and you’ll see why these elegant afternoon soirees sell out every year, usually within hours …
These guests – Judy Schonfeld, Merry Dildine, Jeri Jensen, and Jan Gordon – say they’ve come all the way from Garibaldi on the coast to attend the Leach Botanical Garden English Tea.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Every year, many folks are disappointed when they learn that all four seatings of the Leach Botanical Garden English Tea held in the second week in July are already “sold out”, when they apply for tickets in June.
This year, all four seatings on July 12 and 13 – a total of 360 guests in all – were sold out only six hours after the reservations opened on May 1, recounted Leach Botanical Garden Executive Director David Porter.
Standing by to help out are Leach Garden Friends President Gay Greger – still wearing food preparation gloves – along side Leach Botanical Garden Executive Director David Porter.
“Many of our guests return year after year,” Porter told East Portland News. “And, many of them bring friends, new to the Garden, with them each year. Because of the excellent reputation of the tea, it’s clear that they are all really excited to attend.
“And, when these newcomers attend, we hope they leave as friends of the Garden – telling their family and friends about this unique spot, here in outer East Portland,” Porter added.
Dressed in their finery, these – and hundreds of additional guests – help make the Leach Botanical Garden English Tea an annual event.
Volunteer Christopher Coryell serves scones to guests Carolyn Hixson, Donna Johnson, and their table full of friends from “all over Portland, from downtown to Sherwood”.
The tea is staffed by a cadre of volunteers from Leach Garden Friends, who keep up the facilities and support its many programs, along with their partner, Portland Parks & Recreation.
“Starting in 1985, the English Tea has been one of Leach Garden Friends’ fundraisers, explained the nonprofit organization’s president, Gay Greger.
“Even though Leach Botanical Garden is owned by the Parks Bureau, its operations are supported by our members, and donors to the garden,” Greger pointed out. “The operations are also supported by our Spring Plant Sale and Holiday Bazaar.”
Gresham sisters Roy’l Dover and Shan’l Newberry prepare to enjoy their elegant afternoon English Tea.
Porter pointed out that they’re seeing a pronounced uptick of activity and use, as more people learn about the Garden.
“So, gaining more supporters is very helpful, because we’re looking forward to doing more development here,” Porter commented. “We do not have the facilities for massive growth, but we do have plans already set to enlarge the facilities to accommodate this growth.”
Volunteer server Gina Easley brings out elegantly-prepared luncheon main course plates for guests.
Cheerfully working at his unglamorous-but-necessary assignment, volunteer Lee Younglove does the dishes.
Then Porter and Greger excused themselves, leaving to help volunteers fill elegant tea pots that have been donated over the years, and to prepare scones and finger sandwiches for the waiting guests.
> On our Front Page, volunteer server Lola Aminova shows the colorful luncheon plate she’s about to serve.
© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News