The Outdoor Altar

The outdoor altar is a beautiful site for celebrating Holy Eucharist. Set in the southern end of the yard, the altar is covered by a canopy of kiwi vine with broad green leaves.

Every summer, staff of the Diocese of Oregon worship outdoors amidst the sound of the gurgling streams and chirping birds. One year an albino deer wandered onto the field during the Eucharist!

Fall Crocus

It may be fall, but there are still signs of new life popping up around the garden. The fall crocus are beginning to force their way up through the damp soil, pushing aside the cover of autumn leaves.

All Things Come To An End

Some two hundred years ago the trees you see in this photograph began to grow in what is now Elk Rock Garden on the grounds of the Bishop’s Close. During a recent storm the roots became waterlogged and all three of the major trunks came down. Today the company tasked with cutting them up and removing them from the grounds finished their work. Except for the tracks of heavy moving equipment, only the memory of these beautiful trees remains.

Elk Rock Garden featured in magazine cover article

The July issue of the digital magazine, Garden Time, featured an article about the garden.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close is a treasure of a botanical garden tucked into a Dunthorpe neighborhood overlooking the Willamette River. Originally the home of Peter Kerr, a native of Scotland, the state, along with an endowment for maintenance and upkeep was donated after his death by his daughters in 1957 to the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon on the condition that the garden be open to visitors. Because of this generous gift, we have the pleasure of visiting this gem of a garden year-round.

Here is a link to the whole magazine:

Peter Garwood McDonald

March 29, 2013

peter_mcdonaldPeter was born May 30, 1940 in Portland. His parents were Sir James and Lady McDonald (Anne Kerr). He attended Riverdale School and the Thacher School in Ojai, Calif. before graduating from Brown University. His interest in the environment led him to earn a BA in Botany and subsequently a Master’s degree in Forestry from Duke, followed by a year studying worldwide forestry at Hamburg University, Germany. Peter then embarked on a life of travels and adventures. At the age of 25, he signed on with the Government of Kenya to administer a million acres of Forest Reserve and plantations. He harvested, reforested and commanded fire-fighting on large swathes of northern Kenya as a Divisional Forest Officer. There he met and married his wife, Jill, a resident of Nairobi. After six years in forest management and silviculture, he was encouraged by his father to take on and farm the family property in Wilsonville. As a farewell to Africa, Peter and Jill drove across the continent, through the jungles of the Congo and across the Sahara desert in their trusty landrover, rather than just boarding a northbound plane. They were, however, to return many times on safaris with their friends and family to share the glories of their beloved Kenya. On arriving in Oregon, Peter decided that Inchinnan Farm was perfect for the cultivation of filberts (hazelnuts). The orchards thrived and Peter was named Nut Grower of the Year in 1990. Alongside the filberts, he planted and managed many acres of forest and was named Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year 1993. Because of his experience and expertise the State Department invited him to advise agriculturists and foresters in Bolivia, Brazil and the Republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia. Peter felt a strong responsibility to his community. He was very active in organizations concerned with the environment, such as The Nature Conservancy and with the preservation of agricultural land. He was on the founding board of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a group dedicated to promoting awareness of the benefits of land-use planning, as set forth in Senate Bill 100. In recognition of his commitment to these principles, he was presented with the 2013 Tom McCall Legacy Award by 1000 Friends. He was also involved in many cultural organizations, including the St. Andrew’s Society and the Oregon Historical Society. Peter died peacefully at his home surrounded by his family. He is survived by Jill his wife of 44 years; his son, James (Vanessa); his daughter, Jennifer (Douglas); and granddaughter, Emma; as well as his sisters, Laurie Meigs and Jane Malarkey. One of Peter’s fondest wishes was the preservation of Elk Rock as a botanic garden open to the public. Instead of flowers, the family suggests remembrances may be made in his name to The Friends of Elk Rock Garden, 1000 Friends of Oregon or The Nature Conservancy.

Memorial donations can be sent to the Friends of Elk Rock Garden at PO box 69244, Portland OR, 97239.

Published in The Oregonian on April 7, 2013

John Williams Stoddard Platt

john_platt John Williams Stoddard Platt, age 100, passed away at his home Jan. 9, 2013. He was the youngest of five children born in Dayton, Ohio to Edwin Francis and Alice Stoddard Platt. The family moved to Portland when John was 2, and he called Portland home ever after. During his teen years he attended the Santa Barbara School (Cate School today) where he excelled in history, gymkhana and the 400 meter dash. Following graduation in 1932, he joined the merchant marine, first transporting lumber and sulphur to and from the East coast, then working the Pacific routes to Hawaii and Asia. In 1937 he purchased a parcel of land near Sylvan, where he and his wife, the former Jane Kerr, lived for 50 years following their marriage in 1939. During WWII, he served in the United States Navy in the Pacific theatre, as a diesel mechanic/ laundryman aboard the PT tender USS Mobjack. Following the war, he worked for Kerr Gifford & Co. until its sale in 1953. Not wishing to move his family from Portland, he purchased The Beebe Co. (a marine wholesaler) and ran it and the Totem Pole Marinas until he retired in the mid 1970s. For the next 20 years he devoted himself to helping his wife, Jane, develop and perfect one of Portland’s finest private gardens. He was also dedicated to the preservation of Elk Rock Garden, and served for many years on the Carmen committee (a group started by then-Bishop James Frederick Carmen to manage Elk Rock Garden). There was never a rock he could not move, a hole too deep, or a limb too high. Until his very last days, he held on to the wonder and splendor of the natural world. And to those who had the good fortune to know him, he remained a model, one of the last great gentlemen. He is survived by his two sons, John (Doris) Platt and David (Lisa) Platt; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A memorial gathering will be held later in the year, when the garden is bursting with color and new life. Please make any remembrances to The Nature Conservancy, The Oregon Historical Society, or The Friends of Elk Rock Garden.

Thank you.