‘Leach After Hours’ entertains, educates

Learn more about these unique evening Leach Botanical Garden events, and why they’re growing in popularity …

At the front door of the Leach Botanical Garden Manor House, “Friends of Leach Garden” volunteers Tom Bland, Courtney Vengarick, and Chuck Morrow check in guests to the July Leach Garden After Hours.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Once a month during the summer, folks come to the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood to attend a special “After Hours” at Leach Botanical Garden.

“The Leach After Hours series provides fun and educational events for people who are interested in all aspects of gardens,” smiled Friends of Leach Garden Board President Linda Morrow, as their July 22 event was getting underway.

Friends of Leach Garden” Board Member Nana Bellerud shows one of the many ikebana arrangements she created for the evening’s event.

Friends of Leach Garden” Board President Linda Morrow spends a moment with Board member Amy Miller Dowell, and guest Nancy Merrymen.

“When we get together, it’s a cultural and community event, as well as an educational event,” Morrow told East Portland News. “It’s an opportunity for people to get involved who might not otherwise come here, and to find out more about the Garden.”

Some of the educational topics can be a bit peripheral to gardening, Morrow observed, but they do have to do with the ecosystem and how we relate to it. “Tonight’s topic is ‘The Dirt on Soil’; in August, it will be about cork, and how it is closely related to the wine industry.”

Guest select delicious food, provided by Cheryl’s on 12th, elegantly presented on buffet tables.

James Cassidy, Senior Instructor of Soil Science at Oregon State University – in the Department of Crop and Soil Science at the school in Corvallis – talks with guests before his presentation.

“Yes, indeed; to me, dirt is the most interesting topic of all!” enthused Oregon State University James Cassidy. “Soil is what it’s all about. It’s all about soil, what it is and what it does – what it really is. That’s what we’re talking about tonight!”

Most people don’t talk about soil or even think about soil, Cassidy reflected, “That is, unless they work or play in a garden.”

Later, closing his presentation, Cassidy shared, “I would argue that right now what we are is just ‘conscious soil’!

“Every atom in your body has been attached to the negative exchange complexes of clay and organic matter,” Cassidy said. “And at the end of life, your body will do that again. And it will do that billions of times over and over again.

“Dust-to-dust is a fact,” Cassidy concluded. “All of us will be soil once again. So, enjoy your life now!”

Leach Botanical Garden Executive Director David Porter formally welcomes guests to the informal evening.

Looking around at those gathered for the talk, Morrow said, “It’s like having people from your neighborhood over to your house for snacks and a chat. We feel that the more people are introduced to the Garden, we’ll have more ‘converts’ – and we’ll find more people who want to become involved.”

Getting more people engaged with the Garden is more important than ever, Morrow told East Portland News. “It’s important to the mission of the Garden, because we’re gearing up for a capital campaign to expand access, as the Garden grows to 17 acres.”

Leach Botanical Gardens Development Director James Draznin, pours a glass of wine for a guest.

The next Leach Botanical Garden After Hours event will take place on August 19, from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m., and is entitled “From Bark to Bottle”. You will learn about the forests, and the harvesting and manufacturing of cork products, as well as the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance’s (CFCA) efforts to preserve and protect these forests.

Tickets: $30 each for Leach Garden Friends members/$35 each for non-members. To learn more, and for reservations (which are required): CLICK HERE. The meeting is at the Manor House, Leach Botanical Garden, 6704 SE 122nd Avenue, 97236 – a long, twisty block south of SE Foster Road.

> On our Front Page: Guest Jessica Greenwood selects delicious food from the buffet during the July Leach After Hours event.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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