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Volunteer Ed Green arrived at the Garden Café at the end of his shift. He’d spent the entire morning digging in the mud and since his rain gear was wet and dirty he carefully avoided tracking in dirt on his way to a cup of coffee.

Apologizing for his soggy appearance, he placed his order before sitting down to chat.

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“I must have dug more holes and planted more flowers this week and last than in my entire life!” he said with a big grin. “My wife Kayla is the real gardener in our family, but I really kind of enjoy the grunt work!”

Ed and Kayla returned to Salem a couple of years ago when Ed retired as a sergeant with the Sitka, Alaska police force.  “We loved it there,” he claims, “but the extreme weather started getting to us and we decided it was time to go back to Salem where I had been on the police force earlier in my career.”

“We really didn’t consider any other options. We knew the area well and still have family here. And once we got here, it didn’t take long to discover The Oregon Garden, which didn’t even exist when we left more than 20 years ago. During our first year back we must have visited the Garden at least 300 times!”

As it turns out, the Greens’ beloved dog Duchess ‑ a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – was the motivation for many of the couple’s frequent visits.  With her enthusiasm for the Garden’s fauna exceeding her interest in its flora, she loved to follow her nose while her owners explored the Garden’s more colorful treasures. “Because of her, we got to know almost every inch of this place,” Ed admits, a shameless grin stealing across his face. “And, because we were here so often, we decided we should become members. That’s when I discovered what a great return on investment the membership dues are.  I really wanted to give something back, so I became a volunteer, first as a greeter and now for the horticulture team too.”

Given Ed’s modesty, it wasn’t surprising that he had not yet mentioned being named 2012’s Rookie Volunteer of the Year. “I just didn’t think I should brag!” he explains, then quickly redirects the conversation’s focus:  “Frankly, I think the guys in Maintenance are the real unsung heroes of this place!  What they accomplish is just amazing! But really, the entire staff here is great. And I love everything I do…all of it!

— Story written by volunteer Sarah Perrin

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