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July 13 event is Friends group's largest fundraiser for Oak Lodge library; plans underway for new library construction

Prepare to be inspired and amazed by the seven gardens on this year's Friends of the Oak Lodge Public Library Garden Tour on July 13.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - George Green and his wife Jeri Hiser will open their garden and their personal studios to guests on the garden tour sponsored by the Friends of the Oak Lodge Library. "Every single garden is different; people will see personality in every garden," said Jean Chapin, co-chair of this year's event.

The tour "gives a peek behind walls at people's private yards. The neighborhoods are all unexpected; the gardens are unexpected," said co-chair Lori Agnew.

Chapin added that all the gardens are designed by the homeowners, as opposed to being planned by professional garden designers.

The result is that the yards are "personal and emotional — that's what I love about our gardens and our neighborhoods."

Third annual tour

Tickets for the tour are $10 and can be purchased online at folpl.org or at the Oak Lodge Library, 16201 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd. Tickets also will be available at the Milwaukie Farmers Market on July 7 and on the day of the tour at the Quercus Terra garden, 15014 S.E. Woodland Way, Oak Grove, or at the Seeds for Sharing Garden, 4670 S.E. Jennings Ave., Jennings Lodge.

Participants are encouraged to visit the gardens in any order from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Parking shouldn't be a problem, Chapin said, as all the gardens have parking available on adjacent streets.

She cautioned that participants should be ambulatory, as some of the gardens have challenging terrain.

Participants also may buy raffle tickets at the event; prizes include a basket donated by Bob's Red Mill with a $100 gift certificate, a bucket filled with garden goodies from Ace Hardware, a firepit donated by Ace Hardware, and a garden-themed quilt made by Jill Miller.

The garden tour is the biggest fundraiser for the Friends group, and all money raised will go to pay for Oak Lodge Library programs and services not covered by county funds, Chapin said. The group also is setting aside some funds to plan ahead for a capital campaign that eventually will lead to a new library.

"We want to raise awareness about building a new library. We're in the planning process and looking at potential sites, and Concord School is our first choice," Chapin said.

The following gardens will be featured on the tour: Cat-Man-Du, Quercus Terra, Risley Landing Gardens, Seeds for Sharing Garden, Squirrel Oak Farm, Wildwoods Gardens and Wood Duck Pond.

Wildwoods Gardens

Created by artists George Green and Jeri Hiser, Wildwoods Gardens boasts circuitous paths, sculptural elements, native plants galore, and stunning views of River Forest Lake.

The house is chock-a-block with colorful art and features large windows, so "we feel like the rooms extend out, so that we live in the garden at night," Hiser said.

Green and Hiser were both born in Oregon, but moved to New York City where they became celebrated artists. But in 2005, the pair decided to come back to their roots and buy a home in the metro area.

They looked for a house for three or four months and then gave up and rented a large apartment in Lake Oswego.

But "one day we took a drive and saw a sign that said 'for sale by owner.' We looked at the house and thought it looked too much like a dollhouse," Green said.

So they left, kept driving around the curvy neighborhood in Oak Grove, got lost and then ended up back in front of the house.

The couple then saw the property with a fast-flowing creek and a view of the lake and they were sold.

They bought the house and began the lengthy remodeling process, but because they are artists, the reworking of the house and the design of the garden both developed creatively and organically, Green said.

"There was zero planning; it was like improvisation. That's the way we remodeled; you're not causing things to happen, you're letting them happen," he added.

Community

When Hiser and Green were approached by the FOLPL, they decided it was "time to get involved with the community," Hiser said.

Visitors to their garden also will have the privilege of seeing the pair's studios, where Green paints and Hiser paints and does printwork. Green also began exploring sculpture and making art with found objects, when the couple was given leftover cedar siding.

Inside, he layered the wood on kitchen cabinets and walls, creating textural architectural elements throughout the house.

In the garden, Green made cedar totemlike poles, so that the couple could hold onto them while navigating the hilly terrain in the backyard.

That was more than 10 years ago and now "the poles are starting to weather out and become like bones," Green said.

Hiser said that the couple feels like they "live in a fragment of old-growth forest, with twin oaks and Douglas fir."

She picked Kenilworth ivy, a ground cover with tiny, lace-like flowers, as her favorite plant, although she was quick to point out that the plant is not a true ivy and is not invasive.

Green's favorite is the fern, and the garden contains many a variety in sunlit-kissed shades of green that turn amber in the fall.

Hiser noted, "Every day we see it. We get up and say, 'This is where we live.'"

Love the gardens

What: Friends of the Oak Lodge Public Library's third annual Garden Tour

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, July 13

Where: The tour features seven gardens at various sites in Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge

Details: Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased online at folpl.org, at the Milwaukie Farmers Market on Sunday, July 7, or at the Oak Lodge Library, 16201 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd. Tickets also will be available on the day of the tour at the Quercus Terra garden, 15014 S.E. Woodland Way, Oak Grove, or at the Seeds for Sharing Garden, 4670 S.E. Jennings Ave., Jennings Lodge.

George D. Green Art Institute

The George D. Green Art Institute was started in order to carry forward Green's vision to encourage young people to be at their creative best.

The institute is dedicated to making sure that the next generation of artists will have an opportunity to experience art, and the creation of art, on a first-hand basis.

The institute has a program of educational workshops and in-person seminars with artists.

Combined with traveling art exhibitions, young people are able to take part in an engaging, interactive experience.

"The idea is to bring major, historical artwork to tiny places," Green said, adding that sometimes the students are invited to actually touch the artwork, which is unheard of in a gallery or museum exhibit.

Interested schools and public groups can apply to have an exhibition or an artist workshop come to their area. Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to explore this opportunity.

For more information about the institute and to see examples of Green's art, visit georgedgreenartinstitute.org.

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