Leach Garden hosts new ‘Kalmiopsis Day’

See folks coming to Leach Botanical Garden in outer East Portland to learn more about the plant discovered by Lilla Leach …

Many people have visited the Leach Botanical Garden’s “Manor House”, in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood – but few of them have explored this “Stone Cabin”, hidden away on the property.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Arriving at what was hailed the inaugural  “Kalmiopsis Discovery Day” at Leach Botanical Garden on June 15, families from all over the greater Portland were there to enjoy the free event: A day of fun, exploration, and discovery.

Coordinating seven volunteers at the special day is Leach Garden Friends Volunteer Coordinator Annie Winn.

“We’re celebrating a new event we’re calling ‘Kalmiopsis Discovery Day’ all over the garden,” explained Leach Garden Friends’ Volunteer Coordinator Annie Winn.

“This is in honor of the day that Lilla Leach – who built her home and lived here, where the garden now is located – and was the first botanist to discover ‘Kalmiopsis leachiana’,” Winn told East Portland News. “It’s a little shrub that grows only in the Siskiyou Mountains in Coos County of the southern Coast of Oregon.”

Nearing the successful end of the Leach Garden “Botanical Scavenger Hunt” are Crystal Corey, Grayson Corey, and Amy Micke.

“Because of Lilla’s discovery of the Kalmiopsis in the only known place where it grows, an area was created to protect the habitat of this little shrub,” Winn informed.

Some folks just walked through the garden on the sunny afternoon, and enjoyed looking at Johnson Creek and the greenery; others toured the Stone Cabin, not usually open to the public. It was the first building that John Leach – then pharmacist and owner of the Phoenix Pharmacy at SE 67th Avenue and Foster Boulevard – built on the couple’s four-and-a-half acres beside the creek.

Inside the Stone Cabin are Leach Garden Friends volunteer host Virginia Billis Brandabur, telling Jennings Martin and Craig Martin about the cottage’s history.

“The best part of the day, for me, is sharing with others how fascinating plants can be, and hoping that we might interest kids and adults to learn more about plants, and gain a greater understand of botany,” Winn commented. “It’s also about appreciating Lilla Leach, who was a pioneering botanist back in the 1930s – and her discovery of plants, until then unknown to science.”

Getting a closeup look at the plants during “Kalmiopsis Discovery Day” are guests Caitlin Stearns and Hailey Puha.

Learn more about Leach Botanical Garden by visiting their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2019 David F Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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