A Garden Center’s Worth of Trees and Bushes Has Transformed the Street Outside Old Town Brewing Into a Green Escape

In most instances when you run up against one of those white- and safety-orange-striped “Road Closed” barricades, heavy equipment is on the other side ripping into the pavement, frustrating drivers now in need of another route along with neighbors who must put up with the sustained din of construction.

At Old Town Brewing’s Northeast Portland location, these blockades actually seal off a tranquil urban thicket right in the middle of the street.

This past summer saw every bar, brewery and restaurant in town expand into lanes of traffic if they had the means and ability. While many of these makeshift pandemic patios are nothing much to look at, Old Town’s is different: It immerses you in nature.

“I think one of the things that made such a drastic improvement were all of the trees,” says owner Adam Milne. “It made Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard look like a park. It’s beautiful.”

The temporary woodland—just off the major thoroughfare on Northeast Sumner Street—took more to create than just a run to the closest big-box store’s garden department. The trees are actually loaners from the city of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services as part of its effort to partner with the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Healthy Business program. And the agency didn’t just pick whatever extra available shrubs happened to be in storage, either—careful planning went into the selection of each flower and frond for Old Town and the newly launched Dream Street Plaza it’s a part of.

“They sent out an arborist who walked through the place to develop a ‘tree site plan’ to help support the goals of the plaza,” says PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer.

The plaza, which had its grand opening Oct. 2, is the result of a $25,000 National Association of City Transportation Officials grant that PBOT won to aid with pandemic response and recovery. Through Nov. 1, 15 vendors will be posted along Sumner. Spearheaded by the Soul District Business Association, Old Town’s side-street picnic table seating was also born of that group’s suggestion.

Right now, there’s no better place than the little forest sprouting from cement to enjoy a pizza and a Pillowfist, Old Town’s take on a New England IPA that is appropriately soft in mouthfeel and cloudy in appearance. While the temperature still allows, the oversized garage door at the front entrance will be rolled up, providing more airflow for anyone dining indoors.

But you owe it to yourself to find some solace among the trees—some squat and bushy, others taller than the red umbrellas shading the patch with blooming flowers in a complementary shade of crimson.

When not looking up at the flora, you’ll notice the landscaping and shaping extends to the ground. On one half of the road is a mural that looks like a postmodern game of hopscotch; the brightly colored squares and rectangles were designed by the owner of the neighboring boutique. Then, next to the curb is a wide strip of green artificial lawn, a purchase inspired by an

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How to make your home a European escape

Just because we can’t jump on a plane to visit our favourite European hot spots doesn’t mean some of the joys that come with an overseas holiday are off limits.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have grounded flights for now, but you can still immerse yourself in the beauty of exotic holiday destinations with some clever design and decorating moves in your own home.

Porter Davis lead interior designer Patrizia Romeo has captured some of the most popular style aspects of iconic getaways — including Spain, France, Italy, Denmark and London — as part of the builder’s World of Style themes.

“You can make every day at home feel like a holiday escape,” Ms Romeo said.

Here, she reveals how to add a little decor flair from five Euro faves.

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SPAIN

Taking cues from the vibrant city of Barcelona, this look embraced timeless elegance with a modern edge, Ms Romeo said.

“It’s a beautiful blend of old and new and explores heat and adventure, so let these elements inspire your decor choices,” she explained.

Timber furniture plays a big part. Ms Romeo advised sticking with pieces that had a rustic appearance, and mixing the timber species up a bit.

She said handmade ceramics, lamps with coloured glass bases, arched mirrors, furniture with matt-black or brass detailing, and lots of greenery, including palms, succulents and exotic florals, went a long way in enhancing this look as well.

With colours, she recommended a base palette of soft greys combined with inky blues and charcoals.

“Then layer in some pops of brighter colour, such as mustard or a sunburnt orange, to bring in some vibrancy and keep the home fun and fresh,” she added.

ITALY

For those after a relaxed summer-lifestyle vibe, Ms Romeo suggested shifting focus to the island of Capri.

“Keep things light and airy with inviting colours such as blue, lemon and pink,” Ms Romeo said.

She also encouraged maintaining a strong indoor-outdoor flow with the main entertainment areas, and accentuating some connection with the garden.

“Keep windows and doors quite open and use beautiful, flowy sheers to soften the space and light entering the room. It will add to that resort feel,” Ms Romeo said.

Go for a rustic-style dining table, but take it up a sophisticated notch by pairing it with a set of curved-back upholstered chairs.

“Greenery is also essential here to elevate the feeling of being among nature and being on holiday,” she added.

FRANCE

This look is as classy as they come, with plenty of romantic touches woven through.

Ms Romeo said layering and natural light were key to keeping rooms comfortable and filled with French character.

“It creates a softness that underpins the whole feel,” she said.

Dusty blues and pinks — and even touches of lemon — combined with inky blues and sage green is the colour palette you’re after. But Ms Romeo cautioned against using

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