Patty Sorensen

Serenity Garden Committee Chair

Newsletter Editor Committee Chair

Garden Tour Coordinators Committee Member

My fondness for plants began at an early age.  My parents loved creating a beautiful yard, garden, and flower baskets.  Their devotion led them to winning the garden club’s Yard of the Month several times through the years.  My dad even belonged to the club in the 1960’s as well as an Aunt in the 1940’s. 

As I moved into my adulthood I carried that love with me.  I remember moving to North Dakota and wondering why they didn’t plant tons of flowers since it was so sunny in the summer.  I set up my own greenhouse in my basement and grew an assortment of plants.  Once I planted them out, they took off and were gorgeous.  Then one day a HUGE swarm of grasshoppers came through town.  They wiped out everything I had planted.  OOPS…lesson number one.  Talk to others in the area where you live before you plan your landscape!  Even with our huge access to online information, nothing beats working with neighbors, nurseries, and landscape companies who know the soil, climate, predators and seasons!

We moved to various locations in the US then back to Oregon in the mid 80’s.  We are now in our 15th house as a married couple.  SO, I’ve met lots of neighbors with great experience and a shared love for gardening throughout the year.  I joined the McMinnville Garden Club as soon as I retired and quickly manned a table at the Tour that summer.  Two of my yards have been on the Garden Tour.  What a delight!  My garden club involvement has grown and grown from local to state groups. I embrace all that I have been able to learn.

Our oldest son started college to become a Landscape Architect, but it was just moving into the computer world, and he needed the ability to draw his thoughts.  Those early programs were pretty rigid.   He went on to become a successful video editor.  Shortly after his twin sons were two, he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.  He received top notch care, but his body rejected the stem cell transplant.  On one of our last visits, his Dad took him out to the incredible garden at City of Hope in Los Angeles. He was SO relaxed being able to be out of the hospital sounds and smells after seven months of treatments.  We have our last picture of him sitting in his wheelchair in their garden.

When the garden club started to look for another major project to develop in the community about five years ago, three of us formed a team and visited a huge selection of “Healing Gardens” around the valley.  Two of the ladies were breast cancer survivors and with my son’s  experience, we wanted to give others the opportunity to have a quiet respite from their health journeys and those who were being treated in the cancer center to have a peaceful scene to look at as they endure their treatments.  With the cooperation of the Willamette Valley Medical Center, we began our quest for such a spot for all those needing such peace and healthy breaths.  Thus, the Serenity Garden Project was born.  We chose the name purposely as healing is a personal journey and not always achieved.  Signage is limited so a visitor may not be distracted by things but allowed to quietly relax.  The garden club has fully embraced this project and is hoping others will join us.

Our hope is that energy, funds and knowledge from our community will continue to join us as we move forward through the stages of the Serenity Garden.  Be sure to stop by and visit as we continue to create this special space behind the WVMC near the Cancer Center.

Patty Sorensen

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