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The community effort to maintain the Woodstock Community Center is sparked by this sale

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Hypertufa Queen Shelly Keach uses a metal chopstick, pictured, to delicately arrange sedum in hypertufa garden pots made by Woodstock neighbors. They are sold at the annual plant sale the day before Mothers Day which supports the Woodstock Community Center.  "Hypertufa" is a strange, mystifying word – suggestive of outer space, or hyperbole – but people do flock to the annual Woodstock Neighborhood Association Plant Sale to buy hypertufa garden pots, so some people must have an idea of what it means.

If that doesn't include you, hypertufa refers to the mixture of equal parts Portland cement, perlite, and peat moss, mixed with water – then pressed into rock-like molds. This hypertufa process was invented for use in alpine gardens.

Once the Hypertufa molds are dry, Shelly Keach, a Woodstock resident with a green thumb, fills them with decorative sedum arrangements that she creates. Because the pots are so popular, and because Keach has a fun and outgoing personality, she has become known as the "Hypertufa Queen".

Keach, who works as a server in a restaurant in the Pearl District when not in her garden, has been creating hypertufa pots with miniature sedum gardens for the plant sale for the past six years. The finished, filled pots are often sold-out in the first hour.

"It's all Terry Griffiths' fault," remarks Keach in her typically good-natured humor. "Catherine Failor in the neighborhood brought empty hypertufa pots to the plant sale, and the next year we made our own and Terry [Woodstock plant sale coordinator] recruited me to fill them with plants for the sale."

All money made from the sale is used to help keep the Woodstock Community Center open. Through an agreement with Portland Parks and Recreation, neighborhood volunteers raise funds for custodial service and supplies at the Center. Volunteers also donate their labor to help with various routine landscaping needs and with opening the Center for some meetings and events.

The sale's success depends primarily on plants donated by generous gardeners in the community, but also includes donations from local nurseries and stores. Neighbors are encouraged to contribute by potting (preferably in late March or early April) divided perennials or seedlings from their gardens.

The welcome donations also include healthy plants that gardeners are planning to replace. Vegetable seedlings, herbs, ground covers, sedums, native plants, ornamental grasses, houseplants, and small trees and shrub donations would be greatly appreciated. It's not too late for contributions for the plant sale, which can be dropped off at the Woodstock Community Center on Friday, May 11, from noon to 7 p.m. Those needing empty pots or an alternate drop-off time can call Terry Griffiths at 503/771-0011, or Sandy Profeta at 503/771-7724. (And if you are an expert in identifying plants, your volunteered skills would be handy on Friday.)

The Woodstock Plant Sale is always held on the Saturday before Mother's Day – so this year it will be May 12th, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Woodstock invites you to meet the "Hypertufa Queen" and to see – and buy – the results of her green thumb!

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