Make Kathy's wish come true!

To read the story of our GFM, please scroll down below our updates:

August 2023 Update:

To help us move forward with our mission, we have identified a first round of projects that need funding. We hope that by seeing specific projects you can see that we are being actively involved in the garden improvements. If you would like to fund a certain project, please mention the project number along with your donation. If two people select the same project, the second donation will be used for a project needing a like amount. We appreciate your support!

Project #1 - $1500
Safety railing for the loading dock where classes/meetings will be held.

Project #2 - $2000
Pruning/trimming of the giant Sweet Gum tree near the office.

Project #3 - $3000
Creation and installation of a new sign combining Van Veen Heritage Garden and the Van Veen Nursery info.

Project #4 - $5000
Restoration of our propagation house including glass removal, plastic installation, and new heating/air system.

Project #5 - $3000
White 6 ml polyvinyl on six greenhouses to eliminate the need to double cover the houses with less efficient products.

Project #6 - $3000
Improve or repair watering systems in five of our greenhouses. This will save much in employee labor by automating more of the watering.

Project #7 - $15,000
Glass removal on 6 greenhouses would pave the way for refurbishing multiple greenhouses and increase the area open to the public.

By allocating your donation to one of the projects above, we can make significant strides toward
achieving our mission and creating a lasting positive impact. Each project contributes a unique aspect to our overall strategy, and together, they form a cohesive approach to driving our mission forward. Thank you for your support!

July 2022 Update:
It was exciting on July 24th at the Van Veen Heritage Garden when we hosted the Camellia Society’s summer gathering, luncheon and lecture. About 20 people attended. The day included a talk presented by Mike Stewart, lunch, and plant auction. It was followed by tours of the propagation house, Vireyas, and nursery, led by our nursery manager, Jake. Four tables were set up on the loading dock with table cloths, drinks provided by us, and food provided by the Camellia Society.

The presentation included the history of the Van Veen family and Nursery, Vireya Rhododendrons, and lessons on various propagation methods. It was an exciting time as the educational theme was exactly what we have been working toward to help fulfill an important part of our mission. Discussion ensued regarding opportunities for further educational activities and other meeting opportunities for the Camellia Society.

The Camellia Society is making a donation for the space used and will forward the speaker honorarium to the Van Veen Heritage Garden. In addition, each attendee was presented with the Chapter's book about Western Hybridizers. As you may know, Van Veen has been propagating Camellias from our good collection of stock plants for several years, providing hundreds of Camellias for Camellia Society events. We received a strong indication that the luncheon will be a yearly event. Many thanks to the Van Veen crew for working hard to prepare the grounds and venue for this.

After the event, we received a nice thank you note from the Camellia Society:

Mike, Having you speak about the history and future of Van Veen Nursery was a highlight of our summer Oregon Camellia Society get-together. Also, adding information about the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden might encourage our members to break out of the camellia mold and visit there in the future.............. Jake gave us an engaging tour.

Everyone really enjoyed being at Van Veen. We've gotten such great feedback-one member said it was one of the "bestest" days of the year. Thanks so very much.

March 202 Update:
We started to do some of the projects necessary to slowly turn the property into the Heritage Garden. Below is the architect's rendering of what the front part of the property can look like. 

We started by creating a rock path meandering through the Formal Terrace Turf back through the garden beds behind and ending near the Vireya Conservatory. We also have plans to create a small meditative area with a bench and a piece of religious statuary that Kathy had. It is on the path on the way to the Vireya's.  

Some of the next projects will be to create a path back to the Heritage trees on the property. This project will involve moving some plants and covering the path with either bark or gravel. The other project soon on the list is to start defining where the re-enforced turf parking would be and identifying what plants need to be moved. While we were working on the path back to the Vireya Conservatory, we talked about relocating the entrance to the future Clubhouse.  We have so many wonderful dreams that we know the Van Veen's would love.  We will just attack the job little bits at a time.

One of our donors had this to say: "Back in 1989 when I met Ted at Crystal Springs I was amazed at the work being done by all the volunteers. I thought to myself that that is what I want to do when I retire. Now that that time is coming my body says "I don't think so". It is probably right as too many rocks over too many years have taken their toll. Hopefully I can be of some help elsewhere to help in making the Van Veen legacy continue and thrive. "

If you are interested in helping us with some of the grunt work, please let us know! We will be scheduling periodic open work days.

**********************************************************End of Update
Our GFM story below.

Help make Kathy’s dream come true.! We are thankful for donations received so far! Please share to help us reach more people!
Help us save and preserve the Van Veen property, a substantial oasis of undeveloped urban green space and its 95 year heritage of rhododendron propagation.
Van Veen Heritage Garden is a 501(c)3 charitable organization set up with the assistance of the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society to receive the bequest of Kathy Van Veen, who passed away in 2017.
 When Theo Van Veen started his nursery in 1926, on 42nd and SE Franklin in Portland, he probably never dreamed that his son, Ted, then his granddaughter, Kathy, would continue his renowned propagation business. He also never dreamed that his nursery would later be in the middle of a populated area of SE Portland! After many years, Kathy had a dream for the property. It was her dream to turn the 4.5 acre oasis in the middle of Portland into more than just a nursery. She dreamed of having classes for the public. She dreamed of continuing the family heritage of custom propagation. BUT, the biggest part of her dream was to keep the property a beautiful green space with a public garden and not another housing development. When Kathy passed in 2017, she gifted the nursery to the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society who set up Van Veen Heritage Garden. We have been trying to make her dream a reality but WE URGENTLY NEED YOUR HELP!
What was Kathy’s dream and how would we use your donations?
• To transform a part of the property into a public garden area for the enjoyment of the neighborhood, the city, and beyond.
• To provide public education about rhododendrons, especially to students of schools and colleges.
• To continue the Van Veen family’s well-known custom propagation in the greenhouses.
• To keep the property an oasis of green space and not a housing tract.
• Our immediate needs include recovery from the damage wrought by the historic winter ice storm of 2021, the following summer heat wave (116 degrees), and preparing the property for winter.
We invite you to visit the Van Veen Heritage Garden website for more detailed information. Click HERE, There you can find more of the Van Veen history and view an artist's rendering of the future garden property. You can see what has already been accomplished, and learn more about our mission, future plans, and needs.
Want to SEE the garden? Garden Time videos below feature two different interviews at the garden.
First video HERE
Second video HERE
All monies raised will benefit Van Veen Heritage Garden and it’s programs. ANY donation will help make an impact. Thank you in advance for your contribution to this cause, which means so much, not only to the Heritage Garden, but also to the surrounding neighborhood and the whole community.
Please give generously!
ANY donation will help make an impact. Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to not only our 501(c)3 but to the surrounding neighborhood.
The mission statement of the Veen Heritage Garden: To encourage interest in and dissemination of information and knowledge about genus rhododendron, to encourage study and propagation of rhododendrons and azaleas, to operate a test garden. To provide a medium through which all persons interested in the genus may communicate and cooperate with others of like interest through educational and scientific studies, meetings, publications, and similar activities. To encourage the development of new varieties, other designated and appropriate activities of a plant society, conduct other agricultural educational activities to promote the development of interest and knowledge in gardening.

Donations (69)

  • Fred Nilsen
    • $50 
    • 25 d
  • Laura Grant
    • $1,000 
    • 5 mos
  • Robert Ramik
    • $999 
    • 6 mos
  • David Banks
    • $1,000 
    • 7 mos
  • Pim and Michael Bamford
    • $500 
    • 7 mos


Ann Newhard Clack
Portland, OR
Van Veen Heritage Garden
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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