PORTLAND – Today’s garden tour fundraiser for the Portland Education Foundation will go off as planned, despite a midweek dust-up at City Hall over one stop.

The tour includes the Brentwood community garden, a stop that has drawn the ire of some neighbors and Friends of Evergreen Cemetery.

The neighbors object to the city’s decision to clear the land and lease it to the Deering Center Neighborhood Association. The Friends of Evergreen don’t like having the garden on property of the city-owned cemetery.

Into that dispute walked the foundation, which runs the garden tour as its only fundraiser for small grants it issues to teachers for classroom projects.

Mary Gross, the president of the foundation, said the tour usually focuses on private ornamental gardens, but some ticket-buyers have expressed interest in seeing vegetable gardens, so the Brentwood Street garden was added.

A neighbor, however, notified city officials that the tour appeared to violate an old city ordinance that bars political or charitable fundraising on cemetery grounds.

Gross said she had no clue about the garden controversy. She said the first hint was when someone called and asked her if any of the gardens on the tour are on city property.

“I said I had no idea and they just hung up on me,” she said.

The issue prompted a flurry of activity in the city attorney’s office, which determined that since the fundraising wasn’t actually happening at the garden — tickets are sold at Big Sky Bakery, Jet Video and Rosemont Market — the tour could go on.

Groups sometimes charge for cemetery tours, pointing out the gravesites of historic figures, but those tickets are sold off the grounds.

Gross is happy to avoid a last-minute scramble that could have hurt ticket sales. The foundation raised $3,000 from the tour last year and is hoping for more this year.

“If we couldn’t have used (the Brentwood garden) I don’t know what we would have done,” she said. “I probably would have been up all night long with a marker,” blacking out the references to the garden.

Gross said the tour goes to different gardens each year so people will come back to see something new. Brentwood won’t be on the route next year.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]