Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Annual tour aims to inspire, raise funds


Head out to seven Forest Grove gardens Sunday

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Pathways snaking through the yard makes exploring the different flowerbed islands fun and easier.About a half-acre can provide more vegetables than one couple can eat, a private orchard, a personal collection of knick knacks — and a retirement full of outdoor projects and spousal bonding.

In the last seven years, Tom Beck and Nickie Augustine have taken their Forest Grove yard and turned it into an everyday retreat: frequent al fresco dining among bursts of vibrant floral hues, plenty of patio relaxation under old coastal redwoods and maples and enough brick and bark-dust pathways to take a walk in their own backyard.

Local residents can gain inspiration from Beck and Augustine — and in six other gardens — this Sunday, June 1, on the 20th annual Friends of Historic Forest Grove Garden Tour. From noon to 4 p.m., eight local gardens will be open for viewing.

Also on tap are live artist demonstrations, a quilt raffle and a contest.

The locations are kept secret until the day of the tour, but Melody Haveluck of Friends of Historic Forest Grove, the tour’s sponsor, offered a few teasers — yard art, water features and even a yard with bunnies.

“It’s a family adventure,” Haveluck said. “It really is for all ages.”

When Beck and Augustine started their renovations, there were large piles of dirt in the yard from previous excavations and no landscaping of any kind in the front yard. Later, when they began to landscape the back yard, they found tires and a baby stroller, among other things, Beck said.

“We spend a lot of time out here,” said Beck, who works outside in the spring with his wife, enjoys the fruits of their labor in the summer and fall and takes the winter off — for the most part.

This spring, the couple put in an automatic irrigation system with the counsel of HPS Pipe & Supply staff.

“The irrigation helps a lot,” said Augustine, who no longer has to waste water and time watering by hand with a hose.

The couple also recently laid weed cloth and bark dust between raised beds to cut down on weeds — especially bind weed — commonly known as morning glories. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Augustine has collected most of her knick knacks from Goodwill and Mexico to add a touch of whimsy.

They grow almost 30 varieties of vegetables, artichokes, rhubarb, apples, plums, cherries, pears, nectarines, apricots, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Augustine is experimenting brewing her own compost tea — a mix of compost, steer manure, fish and kelp emulsion and molasses — which she swears by as a fertilizer.

“Tom always wanted to be a farmer,” said Augustine of her husband, who is on the Forest Grove Planning Commission and was a history professor before retirement.

Although Augustine is a Master Gardener, starting a dream yard doesn’t require a lot of training or even a lot of extended work.

“It helps to have a plan. Our plan started with the hard-scaping,” said Augustine, a retired nurse. “It could be daunting but anyone with any amount of space could take one of these beds and make one.”

Beck and Augustine keep their yard beautiful, functional and fun.

“Wherever I am, I like,” Augustine said.