‘Groovin’ in Portland Memory Garden

Here’s why many people came to this special garden in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood on a lovely fall afternoon …

Inside the gates of Portland Memory Garden, volunteers are holding an event they call “Groovin’ in the Garden”, for neighbors in outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

While the Portland Memory Garden is open every day, it was a special day called “Groovin’ in the Garden” that brought people in the gates on October 8 to stroll in the manicured space.

“Today we are having an open house, especially for those who live in or near the neighborhood,” said Friends of Portland Memory Garden President Patty Cassidy.

With Friends of Portland Memory Garden President Patty Cassidy are Jennifer Lein, an AmeriCorps member, and Amanda Lopez, a horticultural therapist intern for Earthtones, who is working as a program developer for Community Cultivators.

“We’re hoping to help people who live and work in the area become more aware of the garden, and what we do here,” Cassidy remarked to East Portland News.

The day was co-sponsored by Community Cultivators LLC, an organization that is creating community for older and under-served people in neighborhoods, through accessible organic gardening, educational workshops, and community events.

Kate Bodin from Community Cultivators LLC shares seeds with Judy Low, Chair Emeritus of Lents Neighborhood Association.

Serenading guests visiting “Groovin’ in the Garden” are Heather Merkle, Greta Arell, and Devin Jorgenson, who work with Earthtones Music Therapy – which also provides horticultural therapy services.

About Portland Memory Garden
“This is part of the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) system, and it was designed primarily for people and their caregivers who are suffering from memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, head injuries, and people who just need an outdoor space in which to feel safe,” Cassidy explained.

It’s different from most parks, in that it doesn’t have a playground, sports fields, or picnic amenities. It is a horticultural-based restorative garden to visit and enjoy, she clarified.

Plants of every season fill the Portland Memory Garden.

“Here, there are a wide variety of plants; and it’s a ‘four-season garden’, giving visitors beautiful visuals and sensory experiences every month of the year. We maintain it diligently, the year around,” Cassidy said.

Caregivers and activity directors have told her that when they bring people to the garden, “Their energy level rises; they become more social; they talk with one another about familiar plants,” Cassidy related. “It takes them out of those isolation of being very alone, into a setting where is there is something really fun to talk about, and to experience. It is something in which they can share an interest.”

Visitors are invited to make lavender sachets during the event.

PP&R takes care of major maintenance work, provides lawn mowing, and cleans the bathrooms. “But it’s our group of 120 volunteer swho provide all of the horticultural care here,” Cassidy explained.

They’re welcoming volunteers to come and help out with gardening on the first and third Saturdays of each month, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. “Just show up with your garden gloves and appropriate clothing, and we’ll give you reasonable and suitable tasks, according to your skills, abilities, and needs,” Cassidy said.

Find out more at their official website: CLICK HERE. By the way, it’s located at the east end of Ed Benedict Park, at SE 104th Avenue, between SE Powell Boulevard and Bush Street.

> On our Front Page: Community Cultivators intern Misty Auel ladles some hot spiced cider during “Groovin’ in the Garden”.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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