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Helping our schools grow

Members of Tigard-Tualatin Schools Foundation hope to raise funds with garden tour, art show
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, OH HOW THEIR GARDENS GROW — Nine different private gardens will be on display Saturday at the Seeding Our Future Garden Tour & Art Show, including Catherine Azzarello’s Tualatin backyard.

Tualatin resident Catherine Azzarello knows gardens.

As a mother of three, she also knows how important it is to support schools.

It is for both of these reasons she has agreed to participate in the Seeding Our Future Garden Tour and Art Show on Saturday.

The tour is put on by Tigard-Tualatin Schools Foundation and will feature nine different gardens located throughout the Tigard and Tualatin area.

It includes an official display garden for the American Hemerocallis (daylily), a romantic garden surrounding a Queen Anne home listed on the National Register of Historic Places and several bird-friendly gardens, including a garden certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a backyard wildlife habitat. One garden is also a home nursery and will have plants for sale.

'Our garden hosts are retired professionals, district parents and community members who love to be in their gardens,' said Becky Hurd, co-chair of the tour. 'Additionally, these wonderful, passionate people enjoy sharing their gardens with others, especially when it offers the opportunity to raise funds for the Foundation.'

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at Al's Garden Centers, Backyard Birdshops, Tigard and Tualatin high schools and through the Foundation office at 503-431-4024 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On the day of the tour they will be available at Durham Elementary School. The tour begins at 10 a.m. and is set to wrap up at 4 p.m. Guests will exchange their tickets for a program that includes a map at the first garden house. There will be directional signs guiding people to all the different homes.

In addition, Durham Elementary School will be the site of a Garden Art Show, where guests can enjoy refreshments and look at garden art by Northwest artists, as well as buy raffle tickets for the chance to win a mosaic-tiled planter made by students.

There are three theme gardens at the elementary school that visitors can walk through and learn how the design of each garden impacts the school's curriculum. All events at Durham Elementary School are free.

Azzarello, a Master Gardener whose garden has been part of the Gardens of Natural Delights tour four times, said this tour is important because of the shortage of state education funding.

'It's a necessary evil and I'm glad the foundation does what it does,' she said. 'I give to the foundation and will continue to give. I find it is becoming the most streamlined way to get direct help to the schools.

'I'm doing this because I have a lovely garden and because I can do it,' Azzarello said. 'People in Oregon love gardening. You can grow wonderful things here, so I think it's a real nice idea. I think what they wanted was to tap somebody besides the parents of the kids of the school who are being tapped a thousand times a year for money.'

Hurd echoed Azzarello's sentiments about reaching out to more than school parents.

'The Foundation knows its fund-raising efforts must reach beyond district parents to grow its potential to fund education in the district,' Hurd said. 'The Seeding Our Future Garden Tour and Art Show provides an avenue for exposure and growth for the Foundation to the broader community in a fun, community-engaging way.'

Besides allowing visitors to venture into her backyard garden, Azzarello, who has an art degree and runs her own graphic design business, also put in more than 200 hours designing all the signage, tickets, logo, ads and other graphics projects relating to the garden tour.

Because of her art background, Azzarello also taught nine years in her children's art literacy classes while they were in grade school, and she has seen firsthand just how many problems the schools have with funding.

'It's a sad state of affairs that I had to teach art and that my kids, by benefit of being my children and my degree in art, have been able to have that teaching,' Azzarello said. 'It's not fair. But I can't be in every class. And I can't do it all myself, thus making the Foundation an absolute necessity.'

When visitors get to Azzarello's Tualatin house they will be treated to a picturesque garden complete with a bunch of clematis, lots of hydrangeas and a paperbark maple that she fell in love with one February.

Her front yard also features a pond and a wisteria tree that she said smells 'deliriously wonderful' and is a 'showstopper.'

'I've moved away from high-maintenance floral things and perennials to stunning foliage and contrasting colors,' she said. 'You'll see a lot of the yellow against the burgundy, and the blue against the burgundy, and the blue-green, yellow-green variegated combination, because I like to play the textures and the colors, and I think you get a lot of bang for your buck when your foliage looks nice.'

When Azzarello first moved to the new house 10 years ago, she said the backyard was raw and had a horrible slope that made it impossible to do anything with. Because it was 100 degrees that summer and she was unable to plant anything, she instead planned what she wanted her yard to look like.

As soon as the ground got damp she had the sloped area carved out and leveled, put in a rock wall, had stairs built, planted trees and put in the arbors her husband built. Once that was taken care of she was able to pick out which plants she wanted populating her garden.

'I started out with all these cool weird plants I had never seen before,' she said. 'I've planted this so that even in the winter, and actually most especially in the winter, I have eye candy out of my kitchen and dining room.'

For more information on the Seeding Our Future Garden Tour and Art Show, contact the Tigard-Tualatin Schools Foundation at 503-431-4024 or visit www.ttsdfoundation.org.

n Contact reporter Elena Boryczka: 503-546-0740; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..