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Sharon Streeters prolific passions: Plants, poetry, and politics

by: Elizabeth Ussher Groff, Woodstock’s Sharon Streeter gives the neighborhood plant sale some gems from her garden, as a gift to all of those gardeners who are equally enamored of the therapy of dirt and digging.

Woodstock's Sharon Streeter has many interests and talents. One interest that has been of great benefit to the Woodstock neighborhood - an interest that might more accurately be described as a passion she cannot resist - is gardening.

Many in Oregon know this irresistible urge. Streeter, however, seems unusually smitten. She was one of the founders of the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon in 1985, served as the society's first President, and founded the organization's semi-annual publication, The Bulletin. She knows and grows plants well.

'When I moved from West Linn to the Woodstock neighborhood fourteen years ago, I swore I would not dive head first into gardening. I wanted to write poetry, and travel.'

However, today, Streeter is still up to her neck in gardening, but it is all positive. People stop to marvel at the plants in her yard. And gardening has helped to heal the loss of her husband of twenty-five years, who died in 1989.

Streeter is a prolific and generous gardener. Each year, from the overabundance of beautiful plants in her yard, she donates top quality perennials - hellebores, Japanese anemones, and one of her favorite groundcovers, Epimedium versicolor 'sulphureum', and assorted other species - to the Woodstock Neighborhood Association's annual pre-Mother's Day plant sale.

But her passion for writing poetry has not been left behind in the dust…or dirt. Streeter's urge to write is as strong as her urge to garden. Her poetry, letters, and essays have been printed in several books and a number of publications, including the Willamette Writer, Pacific Horticulture Magazine, Gardens Illustrated, The Portland Tribune, the Portland Alliance, and The Oregonian.

Putting her poetry to music is another and more recent form of therapy, as well an entertaining creative outlet. Since 2004 she has been writing and singing about the politics of the day, performing at various venues in Portland.

At a recent fundraiser held at her house for candidate Regan Gray, who is running for a seat in House District 42, Streeter sang several political songs with verve and vigor. Her style is reminiscent of that of the late Malvina Reynolds, who is best known for her 1962 song 'Little Boxes', inspired by the stacked-on-a-hill subdivision houses in Daly City, California. Streeter accompanies her own witty, playful and humorous political songs on ukulele, piano, and sometimes keyboard.

When she is not gardening, writing, entertaining, or singing, Streeter might be found helping people understand French gardens. In her 'past life' she taught French in Lake Oswego Public Schools and Clackamas Community College, and she has traveled extensively in France, spending some time studying French gardens. 'I've spoken a lot around Portland about French gardens, and written about them,' she says.

Streeter's love of France is deep. 'One of the selling points of my house was that it reminded me of the Mediterranean coast of France and Spain,' she smiles. However, true to a woman of her now long-established Oregon roots, she says her own garden today reflects a more relaxed Northwest style.