‘High Tea’ supports Leach Garden activities; Master Plan revealed

Look in on Portland’s only public botanical garden’s high-brow fundraiser, and learn what the city plans for this outer East Portland natural wonderland‚

Enjoying their first course at the Leach Botanical Garden’s High Tea are Marki James and Jana Wahl.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Volunteers at Leach Botanical Garden aren’t sure exactly when the summertime tradition of holding a High Tea began.

But volunteer event coordinator, Sandy Dixon, says the original Friends of Leach Gardens started it as fundraiser. “It started small. The husbands were the dishwashers. Now, it’s one of our biggest events.”

Preparing the courses to be served at the Leach Gardens’ High Tea are Wanda Cogswell, Karen Young, Sylvia Foss, Ingrid Wehrle, and Heather Welch.

Dixon, says she and her friend, Wanda Cogswell, love holding the teas. “[Leach] is a beautiful, lovely garden spot, just right for a tea. It is a good public relations event; it brings more people into the garden.”

Each table has unique settings; all the English China and linens have been donated to the group, Dixon explains.

Volunteers Bette Strietmatter, Fae Lowe, Sharon Goodwill, Marg Lyseng, and Dorothy Sahr stand ready to serve the next course at the tea.

The dainty meal consists of three courses, starting with scones served with Devonshire creme and jams. Second course is a plate with five petite sandwiches‚ including the traditional cucumber sandwich. The third course is the dessert plate.

“Many times we have families join us‚ it’s always delightful to welcome three or four generations for a seating at our Tea,” Dixon tells us. Between the two seatings on July 12, the volunteers served about 320 guests and raised about $8,000.

Leach ‘Master Plan’ revealed

Karen Young, executive director of Leach Botanical Garden and Portland Parks & Recreation planner Dave Yamashita discuss the new Master Plan being developed for the garden.

A 20-year vision for Leach Botanical Garden, Portland’s only public botanical garden is being laid out; the “Master Plan” prepared by Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) for the 16 acre park was unveiled on July 21.

“This plan offers exciting ideas for the park; what it needs to thrive; and how it can better benefit the residents of the city,” PP&R planner Dave Yamashita tells us.

This hand-drawn plot indicating improvements to Leach Botanical Garden is part of the 20-year Master Plan being developed for the park.

“A major idea is to improve the educational potential of Garden, through additions to the collection,” continues Yamashita. “Another idea is creating a children’s garden.”

Other additions being considered include a “gardening lab” where people can learn how to better garden at home. “They’ll be able to see the actual plants they can use. And, they’ll learn how to develop sustainable gardens, and plants that express the environmental sustainability desired by Portlanders,” explains Yamashita.

Funding questions remain
Asked about funding, Yamashita comments, “That needs to be worked out. Clearly, funding will need to come from a variety of sources‚ grants, donations and foundation. We’re also exploring the idea of initiating an admission fee at some point, to help develop a broader funding base.”

Scotty Fairchild, Garden Steward at Leach, looks at a feature on a detailed drawing. “I’m exited. In our stewardship over the property, we’ve only done minimal maintenance. This will give us a blueprint for expanding collections, exploring educational possibilities, and providing more reasons why people want to come to the garden,” he says.

A ‘business plan’ for the garden
We’ve done fairly well being volunteer-driven for 25 years,” observes Karen Young, executive director of Leach Botanical Garden. “But, it is time to make plans. We’ve never really had a business plan; the City is helping us make one.”

One of Young’s goals is to create more public awareness about the garden, “especially right here in our area. Many people here [in outer East Portland] don’t know we exist. Often times, East Portland is considered not to have attractions‚ nice places to take visitors and friends. This is one of those places of which we can be proud.”

For more information, see www.leachgarden.org, or call (503) 823-9503.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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