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Summit Streets garden grows

Paula Novak and her friends in the Rosemont-Summit Neighborhood Association have proven you can turn an eyesore into an oasis.

The massive tangle of unsightly blackberry bushes and grass, located next to Novak's home on Summit Street, has been turned into a garden suitable for contemplation, meditation, prayer, reading, deep breathing, or just about any type of relaxation activity you want to do.

It is a place that Novak and her neighbors take justifiable pride.

'It used to look like that,' said Novak, pointing across Pimlico Street to a mass of blackberry bushes. 'Four years ago the neighborhood association decided to do something.'

The support that Novak received was gratifyingly huge, she said, not only from volunteers of the neighborhood association but also from the city of West Linn and SOLV. Even four years later, Novak is amazed at all the help she received.

'SOLV provided grants for soil, dahlias, the flower garden and the drip system,' she said.

While the grants were not big, they made a major difference.

'A SOLV grant of $125 a quarter can buy a load of dirt,' Novak said.

Meanwhile, the city of West Linn proved receptive to the association's project, providing a dumpster for the big cleanup, plus other services such as rolling the area. In fact, the city has designated the garden on Summit Street as a 'green belt' area.

'You hear a lot of negative about the city,' Novak said. 'It's nice to have something positive. Within reason, the city has done everything we've asked. The city has been very supportive. They've been great.'

When Novak put out fliers and blurbs on the Internet requesting help on the project, she got some surprising results.

'This kid who I had never seen before showed up because he saw our project listed on the SOLV Web site,' Novak said. 'We had a neighborhood kid come out and do a great job.'

Also out of the blue came a donation of free day lilies from a lady who heard about the garden.

The Rosemont-Summit group was so encouraged about the garden that they went out and did two more successful projects. One was the median on Summit and Rosemont, on which the association members sprayed weeds and spent a good chunk of money to purchase barkdust.

The other was the intersection at Horton and Santa Anita, the site of a water tower that was an old Boy Scout project. Group members spiffed up the area by picking up a load of debris.

While pleased by her association's success, Novak wants to see other neighborhoods get on the bandwagon and clean up unsightly areas. She wants them to know that a lot of help is available.

'There's SOLV, there's the city,' Novak said. 'There's a lot of support.'

With large trees supplying shade, plus a bench donated by Novak, the Summit Street garden is simply a great place to slow down, sit down and relax.

Once a year the Rosemont-Summit Neighborhood Association has a big workday at the garden, but it is Novak herself who provides the day-to-day work that makes the garden such a refreshing place. She is out every day pulling weeds and running the hose to the drip system.

Hard work and dedication seems to have its rewards.

'We get a lot of feedback,' Novak said. 'We get a lot of compliments. This is just a great project.'

The association can always use volunteers. Those interested may call Novak at 503-650-4937.