Leach Botanical Garden: Historic and Progressive

24 03 2013

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Leach Botanical Garden is a gem in the middle of suburban Portland, Oregon. It’s tucked away off a winding wooded road and surrounded by homes, easily accessible yet often overlooked. Leach is more than a garden; it’s home to over 2,000 plant species. These collections include native flora as well as many that were brought back from the Leaches’ botanical expeditions. Some actually were discovered by the Leaches and are part of the Historical Collection. Leach Botanical Garden offers classes, day camps, hikes, and various events on-site.

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The property envelops the amazing 1936 Manor House with a high-beamed great room, a beautiful wood interior, large windows with breathtaking views of the gardens, and artifacts displays. Its Botanical Library holds over 1,000 books on every plant-related subject. The grand, brick East Terrace possesses several nooks and crannies with benches flanked by various foliage—perfect for long chats or quiet reflection. The Gift Shop offers unique garden and gift items such as honey from Leach bees, Lilla’s special teas, and live plants propagated from the gardens. Take the bridge over Johnson Creek, a short hike through the lush woods, and stumble upon the most delightful scene: A 1932 stone cabin with a slate roof adjacent to an outdoor cooking area. It truly resembles a fairy tale. So adorable!

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John and Lilla Leach bought the property in 1931 from the Johnson family (Johnson Creek) and promptly named it Sleepy Hollow. During the 1930s, the Leaches built their first (stone cabin) and second (Manor House) homes, and established their gardens with plants collected from their travels. John was a pharmacist and Lilla was a renowned botanist. They held many social events, enjoying their life to the fullest. They bequeathed their beloved Sleepy Hollow to the city of Portland to be enjoyed as a botanical park and museum. Leach Botanical Garden opened to the public in 1983 and continues to expand its 17 acres. Six undeveloped acres of the Upper Garden currently is under construction. Admission to Leach Botanical Garden is free and contributions are welcomed. The property’s indoor and outdoor facilities are available to rent for events. Leach is located at 6704 SE 122nd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97236. Parking is across the bridge from the main entrance. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; closed Monday. For more information, call (503) 823-9503 or check out http://www.leachgarden.org.

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