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Putttin' down roots

Bauers' bright Highland-area garden attracts a lot of attention
by: Christina Lent, Margaret and Valentine Bauer were recently honored for their Highland neighborhood garden.

It's not uncommon for Valentine Bauer to find visitors in his vibrant flower garden.

From teens posing for senior portraits with his petunias, snapdragons and impatiens in the background to neighbors wanting to know the secret to its lush beauty, Valentine and his wife Margaret are pleasantly surprised by the admirers their garden attracts.

'We work in our garden every day unless we're not home,' Valentine said. 'Hardly a day passes that someone doesn't stop by to comment on how nice it looks.'

'We get a lot of compliments,' Margaret added.

The Bauers' garden recently attracted the notice of the Highland Neighborhood Association Committee, which recognized the couple last week for creating the most outstanding garden in the neighborhood.

'They have a garden that simply takes your breath away,' said Barbara Wilson, board member of the Highland NAC. 'Bright blooms abound.'

Association Chairman Jeff Menzel agreed and presented the Bauers with an 'Outstanding Neighborhood Garden' award during last Thursday's meeting at the Beaverton Resource Center.

'I was surprised,' Valentine said following the presentation. 'It's nice to have people passing by appreciate what we've done and comment on our work.'

'It was really nice to be recognized by our neighbors,' Margaret added.

Kept the hobby

This is the second time the Bauers have received recognition for their lush gardens.

In 1972, The Dalles Beautification Commission presented the Bauers with a Home Beautiful Award. The couple lived in The Dalles on West 15th Street for 33 years, where they had two greenhouses and sprawling terraced gardens.

They moved to Beaverton two years ago to be closer to their children and carried on their tradition of adding vibrancy to the neighborhood by surrounding their Southwest Cherryhill Drive home with a colorful variety of flowers, shrubs, trees and blooming ground cover.

'We do our part to keep the neighborhood nice,' Valentine said. 'We set an example that others can follow.'

Gardening is a labor of love for Valentine and Margaret.

'When I married Val 50 years ago, I had no idea about how to garden,' Margaret said. 'I learned fast and I'm still enjoying it.'

As a young man, Valentine recognized that he had a green thumb and passion for growing plants.

'As a child, I was raised on a farm in Poland,' Valentine said. 'I think that is where the gift came to me.

'Originally, I wanted to be a gardener. But when we took refuge in Germany during World War II, I couldn't find a place for training. I kept it as my hobby and then I became a tailor.'

Talk to them

What was once a hobby now has bloomed into something more for Valentine, 78, and Margaret, 79.

'We garden for our health,' Valentine said. 'It keeps us motivated and flexible.'

'We keep busy, busy, busy,' Margaret said.

Valentine is in charge of designing and planting the flowerbeds, while Margaret helps him maintain the garden.

'I get a vision on how the flowers should look,' Valentine said. 'I pick the flowers that attract me.

'I like to get different varieties to get more color in my garden. I buy a selection and plant them as I go. I make sure they match.'

This year, Margaret put in a special order for verbena.

'I wanted verbenas badly, and they're beautiful,' Margaret said. 'They're doing great. I like them, but they really are lots of work. If you don't pinch them out, then they don't produce.'

She doesn't mind the extra work to see them among the other flowers in the garden.

'Gardening is a lot of fun if you keep up with it and give it lots of tender loving care,' Margaret said.

So what's the secret to making flowers grow?

'If you don't water them and give them the necessary fertilizer to develop properly, then they won't last long,' Valentine said.

'Both of us talk to our flowers,' Margaret added. 'You have to talk to them.'