Bee-Friendly Front Garden Tour
Print out the LIST of participating gardens, and take the tour anytime.
4234 NE 21st Ave
Tim has lived in this charming home since 1980 and planted everything himself except the 100-year-old Western Red Cedar in the back yard. He and his wife, Julie, grow edibles almost year round, with a hoop house and nearly 35 feet of vegetable garden space. They are incorporating more native plant species, which are important for a healthy pollinator population. Tim is a bee-keeper, with honey bee hives in the back yard. He's also the chair of Portland Urban Bee-Keepers, co-chair of Zenger Farm's Bee Group and one of the organizers for Tour de Hives.
1633 NE Going St
Jeanne's lovely garden features a giant Empress Tree, with a birdhouse and other ornaments hanging from its branches. A faded picket fence surrounds the yard, and provides a contrasting backdrop for brilliant rose campion. A path with a border of river rock circles the house. Fragrant jasmine drapes over the front porch, and a black lace elderberry nestles into a corner. This one is special - don't miss it!
2017 NE Skidmore St
To create their beautiful garden, Melissa and Brett adopted ideas from Ann Lovejoy's Golden Bowl concept. They removed the lawn and placed the larger shrubs away from the house. They built a patio and winding walkways from repurposed stones. Then, they planted smaller shrubs and perennials around the patio and walkways. This year, they've added nesting boxes for Mason bees. Their lovely, low-maintenance space is now a sanctuary for wildlife and for themselves.
1533 NE Skidmore St
Mandi and Steve took advantage of the large native Doug Fir and pine tree on their property to create a woodland garden of mostly native plants along the 16th Ave side. They have over 20 different varieties of native plants and are Gold Certified through Audubon Society's backyard habitat program. The front yard faces south and receives a lot of sun, so that's where they grow their edibles.
3907 NE 19th Ave
Buddy and Karie recently redesigned their front yard. They've replaced a portion of their lawn with garden beds for herbs, veggies and flowers. On the south side of the house, behind a screen made from salvaged windows, you can see their colorful bee boxes, with bees buzzing around. Raspberries, a favorite of honey bees, grow nearby.
2013 NE Ridgewood Dr
In 2012, Connie removed the lawn from her sloping corner lot with the help of a friend. She hired Structure Landscapes NW to install the elegantly curving retaining walls. Then, she planted sun-loving perennials such as salvia, catmint and rockrose on the terraced slopes. At the top of the hill, she created a patch of clover-lawn for her dogs. Clover can be mowed, but doesn't need to be, so it's a good option for people wanting to avoid noisy machinery.
The eye-catching red-orange azalea (shown in the photo) brightens up a shady spot near the front door.
Sabin Community Orchard - Mason St between 18th and 19th
The Sabin Community Orchard was established in 2010 as a partnership between Sabin Community Association and Portland Fruit Tree Project. The orchard includes currants and grapes as well as fruit trees such as figs, pears, plums, persimmons, apples and cherries. The purpose of the project is to provide nutritious food, leadership opportunities and training for people interested in learning orchard management skills.
4745 NE 16th Ave
Marc runs his own organic landscaping company, called Amaranth Organic Gardening, so he creates and cares for other people's gardens as well as his own. He sees gardening as "bridging the gap between the natural world and our hectic modern life. The garden is the place where those things meet - it’s all manmade but it emulates and is subject to the whims of nature. Especially so in the city, where the gardens are little islands of tranquility and shrines to something greater than concrete and cars."
Marc's front garden is all organic and mostly drought-tolerant. It is constantly evolving, and he has been introducing more structure by using repetition.
4707 NE 16th Ave
Marci works professionally on restoring natural areas and loves to incorporate native plants from around the region into the garden. John runs Limb by Limb, a small arborist business, and believes that creating a healthy soil food web helps their garden to thrive. Their garden is all organic and includes many native shrubs and grasses, culinary herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowering perennials to attract diverse pollinators throughout the year. Other features include Mason bees, on-site stormwater management, a small rain garden, drought tolerant plants, and a worm bin.
3934 NE 16th Ave
Suki is an artist with a passion for nature. Her Sabin garden bursts with color and includes salvia, batchelor buttons, gaillardia and rose campion. She also grows tomatoes, raspberries and other edibles in the front yard. To create a safe haven for bees, Suki gardens without chemicals.
3906 NE 16th Ave
Susana has turned her large corner lot into an urban farm and bee paradise. She grows fruit trees, blueberries, raspberries, tons of sunflowers plus a wide range of veggies and herbs. Susana runs the Portland Culinary Workshop, and uses the produce from her garden for her cooking classes. This garden is really amazing - don't miss it!
4821 NE 14th Ave
Carolyn loves hiking along creeks and waterfalls, and she incorporated the design pattern of cascades and flows into her garden. The draping branches of a weeping larch evoke that feeling of flow, as do the mounds of perennials and herbs. Carolyn listened to words of wisdom from Sean Hogan of Cistus Design: begin with good soil, and she did. The result is a tiny, but enchanting front garden that serves as paradise for bees, butterflies and other crittters.
4057 NE 14th Ave
Built in 2002, the Bacon-Brenes home incorporates passive solar features, salvaged materials and a rainwater harvesting system. The garden is eco-friendly, too, with much of the space given over to growing edibles. Oh, and they have bees!
Read more about the Bacon-Brenes home here.
3916 NE 14th Ave
Kathy's yard was mostly lawn when she bought the house in 1996. Over the years, she has gradually removed lawn and added more shrubs and flowers. Many of her plants were acquired from friends or the discount section of the nursery. Kathy prefers plants that are drought-tolerant and low maintenance. One of her favorites is the cardoon, or ornamental artichoke, with purple thistle-like flowers.
3967 NE 13th Ave
Morgan and David moved into their house in 2009 and are slowly converting much of their yard to edibles. In the front yard, they have espaliered apple and pear trees mixed in with beautiful ornamentals like weigela and peonies. Their side yard includes raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, currants and gooseberries. Their persimmon tree is rumored to be the largest in the city. If you enjoy growing edibles, but don't want to give up your beautiful ornamentals, you'll love this garden.
3727 NE 11th Ave
When Vanessa moved into her house, the front yard consisted of chain link fence, grass and dandelions. Now it's an eclectic mix of plants and found objects, including driftwood, a sign she found on the beach and several vintage typewriters. Vanessa got all of the rocks, paving and fencing materials free from craigslist. Most of the plants came from friends, neighbors and relatives. Vanessa is trying to incorporate more native plants into her yard, to sustain native birds and insects. The south side of her yard is almost all natives and is busy with hummingbirds and bees all summer long.
Oh, about that tree trunk holding up her front porch - it's from a tree that was cut down on 12th Ave between Beech and Failing.
1508 NE Beech St
When Erin and Jesse purchased their house in April 2012, the yard was a blank
canvas. They immediately removed the lawn and spent hours digging and amending
the soil to make room for bee and bird friendly plants. Their colorful cottage garden is a hidden gem on Beech Street. The sunny spots are filled with strawberries, gaillardia and other heat-loving plants. Purple salvia, yellow yarrow, orange crocosmia and maroon-leaved penstemon brighten the partially shaded patches. Walk past it on your way home from Whole Foods.
Ariadne Garden - NE 11th Ave between Fremont and Beech
In 1993, Kim McDodge purchased two lots on NE 11th Ave and founded Ariadne Garden. She donated the land to the Oregon Sustainable Agricultural Land Trust (OSALT) to ensure that the land would remain a community garden in perpetuity. Ariadne is run by volunteers and is a self-sustaining retailer, selling flowers and produce, including peonies, sunflowers, gladiolas, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, kale, beans, squash and raspberries. The market stand is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10:00 to 1:00, May through October.