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Master Gardeners assist in projects at Brentwood-Darlington's Learning Garden Lab

DAVID F. ASHTON - Volunteers from Multnomah County Master Gardeners, turning out for the work party, pause for a team photo while laying out paths in the new Annex Garden. Those who have visited the Learning Garden Laboratory in the Bentwood-Darlington neighborhood, across S.E. 60th Avenue from Lane Middle School, have most likely noticed the Multnomah County Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden that shares the property.

Although a portion is dedicated to schools for teaching, on the 12½ acre site, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) owns a large C-shaped section on the outside, including the area used by the Demonstration Garden.

To expand their programs, the Multnomah County Master Gardeners looked to create a larger garden, and made their first application to PP&R almost 2½ years ago – according to the Annex Garden Project Manager, Peter Jacobsen.

"The Annex will be important for the community because we teach classes here; the Parks Bureau is eager for us provide educational opportunities in this space," Jacobsen told THE BEE at a "work Party" held not long ago. "Here in this new, larger space, we can demonstrate all different kinds of approaches to gardening, which makes it much easier to help people learn, instead of pointing to diagrams and talking."

When the Master Gardeners started the project – after receiving PP&R approval this spring – volunteers worked to transform a rocky and weedy field into a beautiful garden.

"Our current Demonstration Garden is all about vegetable gardening," Jacobsen said. "The Annex will feature a mix of vegetable gardening, with some raised beds, and an ornamental garden with lots of native plants. And, there will be a 'Xeriscape' area, designed to requiring little or no irrigation or other maintenance, to demonstrate different approaches to gardening."

One of the group's major accomplishments over the summer was a "large-scale plumbing day", made possible with a grant from East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District. On that day, they trenched and installed 760 feet of pipe with 135 connections and six hose bibs. "I call it a success, because when tested, there were no leaks!"

About the progress on the Annex, Jacobsen commented, "Seeing the paths laid out, after staring at the chart for 18 months, I'm excited."

If you're interested in learning more about the Southeast Portland Master Gardeners, go online: www.multnomahmastergardeners.org

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