‘Memory Garden’ hosts summer open house

See what’s new at this nationally-recognized, award-winning outer East Portland garden …

This entryway welcomes those who care for people with memory difficulties – and anyone who loves strolling through a beautiful, well-kept garden.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From its beginning in May, 2002, a handful of volunteers has continuously improved the Portland Memory Garden. So much so, that in 2011 it was honored with the national Therapeutic Garden Design Award from the American Horticultural Therapy Association.

> Read about that award in our story
“‘Memory Garden’ celebrates decade of service”: CLICK HERE.

Guests gather to learn more about the Portland Memory garden, from volunteers.

The nonprofit organization that keeps up this outdoor facility – one of eight memory gardens in the U.S., and one of only two built on public land – Friends of Portland Memory Garden, held their 2nd Annual Open House on the afternoon of August 2.

“We’re providing this event for the general public, inviting them to visit the Portland Memory Garden,” said Friends of the Portland Memory Garden President Patty Cassidy.

“It is time for people to get to know what the garden is about, why it is here, and look at some of our plant material,” Cassidy told East Portland News.

Sandra Galli speaks with Friends of the Portland Memory Garden President Patty Cassidy, along with guest Jodi Winnwalker.

It’s important for this garden, located in outer East Portland, to exist, because it is an especially useful therapy tool for people who are experiencing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other memory issues, Cassidy explained.

“The garden is a safe and secure environment. It is designed with a circular pattern so people can’t get lost. The sidewalks are wide and flat, and the cement is tinted so people are not blinded and dazzled by the glare of very white pavement.

“This small, well-manicured park is a welcome sanctuary for anyone wishing to get away from the urban environment,” Cassidy pointed out. “We have lots of benches in the sun and shade, and plant material that we want people to touch and smell. This is a ‘sensory garden’, and so we want people to use their senses to experience the wonder and delight of the plants, flowers, and bushes.”

Horticultural Therapists and board member Julie Brown, and Horticultural Therapist specialist Kayo Huffman, are showing an oak leaf hydrangea.

New informational kiosk to be constructed
Their organization submitted a successful grant application to the Meyer Memorial Trust to build an informational kiosk in the garden.

“People ask us about the plants that are here in the garden,” Cassidy remarked. “It’s not practical to put plant labels around the garden. This grant will give us the funding to build a kiosk to enable us to put up photos of the plants in full bloom that month, and describe them in in English, Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese.

“This way, people feel they can come to the garden, and be informed by it, more educated by it,” Cassidy added.

Look for the new addition in November.

This garden is taken care of by the Friends of Portland Memory Garden, who come to help out on the first and third Saturday of each month, from 9:30 a.m. To 11:30 a.m. “People don’t have to call ahead; they can just show up,” Cassidy invited.

The Portland Memory Garden is located just off SE Powell Boulevard at SE 104th Avenue, in the southeast corner of Ed Benedict Park. It’s open daily from 8:00 a.m. until dusk.

To volunteer or to learn more, contact Patty Cassidy, Friends of the Portland Memory Garden, at friendspmg@comcast.net, or see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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