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Tigard Garden Club brings beauty to Tigard parks

Group spreads wildflower seeds across Tigard to mark 50th anniversary of Highway Beautification Act


TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Gayle Allen digs up soil for sowing seeds near the Tigard Public Library on April 22. The Tigard Garden Club's planting was done to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lady Bird Johnson's Highway Beautification Act.Members of the Tigard Garden Club certainly aren't afraid to get their hands dirty.

Drivers on Southwest Walnut Street likely spotted them last week, spreading seeds as part of a statewide project to make local communities more beautiful.

The group met Wednesday, April 22, at Tigard parks to sow wildflower seeds. It's the latest in a long string of community events that have included the popular club.

Tigard’s Garden Club has been a staple of the community for decades. Started in 1947, the club meets monthly at the Tigard Senior Center and is limited to 40 members, with a long waiting list to join.

“We have had people in the club for 25 or 30 years,” said group member Peggy Schiller. “We stay because we all enjoy each other’s company. It’s a lot of fun. Every one of us enjoys being a part of this club.”

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Members of the Tigard Garden Club sprinkle wildflower seeds near the Tigard Public Library on April 22. The club has been working to make Tigard a more beautiful place for nearly 70 years.Schiller said that the April 22 planting was held to honor former First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, who was well known for her work to clean up America's roads and highways.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Highway Beautification Act, Schiller said, a passion project of Johnson's, who worked for years on beautification projects across the country.

The country was in the midst of the Vietnam war, and civil rights issues were in the forefront of people’s minds during Johnson's term as First Lady. Johnson said that her beautification projects would help bring people together.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope,” Johnson was quoted as saying.

Johnson's act limited billboard and other advertising and encouraged scenic enhancement and roadside development along America's then-blooming interstate highway system.

Johnson died in 2007, but Schiller said that her work continues.

“Her project was to beautify America, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Schiller.

Sponsored by the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs, gardeners from across the state planted 37 varieties of wildflowers during the April 22 event. In Tigard, the group spread the seeds at a newly completed section of Woodard Park near Southwest Walnut Street, as well as near the Tigard Public Library.

“There are some master gardeners, but mostly we’re all just backyard gardeners,” Schiller said. “We all have some interest in either gardening, landscaping or floral art.”

It’s not uncommon to see Garden Club members hard at work around the city. Members maintain a culinary herb garden at the Tigard Senior Center and also hold an annual plant sale. The group works with Loaves and Fishes every spring, making flower corsages that are distributed to mothers who receive food through the program. Members donate money to help rebuild burned-out forests around the country. And club members are also working to build a garden around the historic home of Alberta Rider on Southwest Bull Mountain Road.

“We all just love working in the yard and digging in dirt,” Schiller said. “It’s good for you. Often I’ll say that I’m going to work for a half hour, and eight hours later, I’ll come back. We’re pretty avid gardeners.”

For more about the Tigard Garden Club, visit the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs' website.

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