Exploring unexpected winter life at Leach Botanical Gardens

Think nothing is happening, during the bleak “dead-of-winter” months, at our city’s only botanical garden? No! See what’s going on ‚Äì right now ‚Äì at this outer East Portland natural paradise ‚Ķ

Scotty Fairchild, Steward of Leach Botanical Garden, shows us a blooming Ribes Laurilfolium (evergreen currant) before he starts his monthly Saturday morning Gardener’s Tour.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
This time of year, most Saturday mornings are cold, gray, and damp. So, we wonder why Leach Botanical Garden holds tours – even in the winter.

To find out, we visit the garden’s steward, Scotty Fairchild, before he begins his “Gardener’s Tour” at the outer Southeast Portland property.

“We have more things in bloom during the winter months than we do during the peak summer months,” Fairchild tells us. “This is because of our site, plant materials and ecology here at the Gardens. There are probably 30 things in bloom today.”

Fairchild greets the guests who are about to take his winter-morning Gardener’s Tour at Leach.

The gardens are open to the public every day.

But, a good reason to take the Gardner’s Tour, Fairchild says, is he can point out things of interest that are “very subtle, this time of year. If you look carefully, you’ll see a lot of things in bloom. We look at twigs, buds and the other living systems including our large bird population. We’re seeing the rodents and small mammals getting more active.”

“We let plants go through their cycle. There is very little human manipulation of the plant materials at Leach Botanical Gardens,” says Fairchild.

Next tour is March 3
Fairchild conducts the Gardener’s Tour on the first Saturday of each month.

“During this tour, I am able to share–in a little more depth–information about the horticulture and botany processes you’ll see here.”

The 90-minute walking tour begins at 10:00 a.m. “I enjoy sharing my passion for this community resource, right here, in mid-southeast Portland,” Fairchild tells us.

Admission is free, though donations are requested. Group tours are given by appointment. For further information contact Nancy at (503) 823-1671. The garden is at 6704 SE 122nd Ave, Portland (just south of SE Foster Road).

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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