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Soul of the Soil Calender

Anne Jaeger

Soul of the Soil Calendar.

You may be surprised seeing calendar pictures of me and 13 other garden celebrities posing to benefit a local children’s charity. And we’re surprised how fast the calendars are selling! Borders in Tigard sold out the first weekend the calendars went on sale. As the organizer, I’m now worried we’re going to run out!

Believe me, getting 14 celebrities to bare (almost all) for anything is not easy. I mean, think about it; they’re not an “easy” crowd… cooperative yes; easy, no. So, take my word for it, when I called people and asked them to show some shoulder for “Our Garden” (a financially strapped children’s garden in Inner Northeast Portland) I expected to hear the phone slammed in my ear. To my surprise, they swallowed hard, but no one blinked. And I have learned some wonderful things about the celebrities in our calendar.

Here’s what I learned. These people are really nice.

Not enough for you?

They’re also VERY brave.

Okay, Okay…

Enough of that, let’s dish the dirt.

People are always asking “are you really nude?” First of all I’ll never tell, but remember it is the “illusion of nudity.” Tribune, columnist Barbara Ashmun explained it to her boyfriend very well. Ashmun told him “I did have my socks on!” They married soon after. Hmmmmm….

Another question I hear pertains to our August calendar hunks Parker Sanderson and Sean Hogan- standing among HUGE gunnera leaves at their nursery. People want to know “Are their leave REALLY that big?” Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they are.

Keep in mind, each shot in this calendar was photographed in that particular month over a year’s time. So can you imagine the pain of being Mr. January, Eamonn Hughes? He’s standing underneath a waterfall he built at the entrance to the Oregon Garden in Silverton. We covered him with mud head to toe and made him cavort in a public place. Eamonn quickly learned to throw caution to the wind knowing full well a bus load of seniors might drive by at any time…. slack jawed and on the best January garden tour of their lives. And to think they wouldn’t even have to pay extra! (As a tourism ploy, this alone may have kept the garden out of receivership.)

Yes, there were definitely some moments I wanted to disappear completely. And I’m not even referring to my own July calendar page. February’s photo shoot was one of those “leave a tender moment alone” experiences: Ray and Jan McNeilan are posing together in their greenhouse whispering gentle words to each other and I’m crouched at their feet tangled in electrical cords operating the “Steam Buggy” trying to keep the windows fogged! ‘excuse me, don’t mind me….’ I said nervously.

Getting television and radio host Mallory Gwynn “all flocked up” like a Christmas tree was fun (for me.) Bless his heart, Mallory learned there’s a reason people don’t wear tree flocking. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you. We nearly gave him a full body bikini wax trying to rip it off afterward!

Of course, a project like this is not all fun and games. On each of the 12 shoots over the 12 months, there were tender moments I keep as snapshots in my heart. If you look very, very closely in September’s picture of Oregonian columnist Vern Nelson you will see a special tribute to the love of his life. Maggie’s white tennis shoes are placed near a terra cotta pot, just waiting for her to put them on again someday. Vern’s wife, Maggie, died of cancer a little more than a year ago.

Also, I admire the strength in Dulcy Mahar, a long time Oregonian columnist. Dulcy had not been feeling well and could easily have told us “No, not today” instead she projected her soul into a picture and allowed us to catch her gardening in her nightie!

Perhaps the best part of being the organizer, stylist and writer of this calendar fundraiser was the close friendship forged with photographer Loma Smith. Together, rain or shine, we spent a year of our lives working pro-bono for a cause we believe in with some of the most generous public people we’ve ever met.


Who’s Inside?

Barbara Ashmun; Garden columnist/Author

Linda Beutler: Author/Speaker

Nancy Goldman: President Hardy Plant Society

Mallory Gwynn: TV, radio garden host

Lucy Hardiman: Author/Speaker

Eamonn Hughes: Hughes Water Garden

Anne Jaeger: Columnist/TV Garden Specialist

Dulcy Mahar: Columnist.

Ray and Jan McNeilan: Horticulture Professors/Speakers

Vern Nelson: Columnist/Teacher

Kym Pokorny: Garden writer.

Parker Sanderson/Sean Hogan: Cistus Design Nursery



Our Cause?

100% of calendar sales benefits “Our Garden” a non-profit children’s garden in Inner Northeast Portland on the corner of MLK Blvd and Failing Streets. Every year, 170 disadvantaged kids tend the garden, eat what they grow and then donate a thousand pounds of fresh vegetables to the food bank. After a decade of learning, the garden just had its final harvest and must find a new home. Proceeds from the calendar will help “Our Garden” find new land to plant and rebuild the teaching garden for low income children.



Calendars are available for $19.95 at www.gardengal.tv, Main St. Stamp and Stationary, Drakes 7 Dees, Garden Fever, Garden Rooms, Gardeners Choice, The Jealous Gardener, Tualatin River Nursery, Rain or Shine, Cistus Design Nursery, Portland Nursery and Hughes Water Garden.