On Walkabout to See What's Out There

Of Garlic and Molehills

By: BriarCraft, 12:04 AM GMT on August 27, 2012

I'm chagrined that fall is in the air. We've only had about 5 or 6 days of summer, or so it seems, but the early morning low temperature on Friday, August 24 was 39°F. Not fair! I've only had two ripe tomatoes, two zucchinis, and one lonesome cucumber thus far. No peppers yet and the basil is not big enough to yield anything for pesto either. The Climate Prediction Center is saying our weather will be cooler and dryer than normal. I can irrigate to compensate for dryer, but cooler is just not going to make those tomatoes and basil happy.





The annual Chehalis Garlic Festival was this past weekend and I went on Friday to get my fix of garlicious food and also to buy some gourmet garlic to enhance my cooking in the coming months.



Our little garlic festival is not much different than any number of local fairs and festivals. It's an excuse for catering trucks and craft vendors to peddle their wares while locals come to sample said wares, often to the accompaniment of live music from local bands. Nothing really momentous about such events, except that they give us incentive to part with some money and have a little fun. And, of course, one of the highlights of a festival honoring garlic is the creativity with which those catering trucks deal with the flavor du jour.



On the home front, the topic du jour is the on-going war on moles. In western Washington, summers are dry. The rainy season starts sometime in October and continues with varying intensity through May or June. July through September are dry. When the soil dries out, worms hibernate, curling into little balls deep in the soil to conserve moisture. Worms are the primary food of moles and they hunt by following the sound of worms moving through the soil. What do moles do for food when the worms stop moving? I have no idea.

I do know that a deep watering of the soil causes a chain of events that lead directly to my war on moles. Overnight, worms uncurl from their little protective balls and go about doing what worms do: moving through the soil, eating organic material as they go. The moles hear this wormish activity and come from wherever they've been lurking to feast on worms. In the process, they dig new tunnels to get from point A to point B, pushing excess dirt out of their way above-ground and exposing plant roots to air, which makes the plants very unhappy.

For my part, I dig down to a newly active mole run and set a trap. I cover the trap with an inverted flower pot so as to prevent any above-ground critters from disturbing the trap and possibly hurting themselves. I also have a Siamese cat named Wally who is an attentive mole hunter and a talented digger. So far this year, the score is 1 mole for me and 1 for Wally. It's a friendly competition -- friendly for me and for Wally, that is. Not so much for those pesky moles.

Updated: 12:09 AM GMT on August 27, 2012

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Rose Test Garden

By: BriarCraft, 1:01 AM GMT on August 07, 2012

Portland, Oregon, is not the only city to claim the title of The Rose City, but residents do take their roses seriously. In early June, they celebrate roses during the Rose Festival. It is common to see bush or old fashioned roses lining the freeways in central Portland. With the mild climate, roses blossom from June to November. During some winters, when there is no killing freeze, a few hardy roses can be seen blossoming in mid-winter.



The biggest claim to fame for Portland's rose enthusiast is the International Rose Test Garden located in Washington Park. While the number and variety varies from year to year, currently, the 4.5 acre garden contains 9,525 roses in 610 varieties.

Portland’s identity with roses began in 1888. Georgiana Burton Pittock, wife of pioneer publisher Henry Pittock, invited her friends and neighbors to exhibit their roses in a tent set up in her garden. Thus began the annual rose show for the Portland Rose Society. Jesse A. Currey, a former Rose Society president, chose the site and convinced City officials to inaugurate a rose test garden in 1917 with the support of the American Rose Society and civic–minded citizens. At that time, Portland had 22 miles of rose-bordered streets -– a strategy to draw attention to the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial celebration. As a result, Portland was dubbed the "City of Roses".



The International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park is the oldest official continuously-operated public rose test garden in the United States. In 2006, the Garden of Excellence Award was presented to Portland Parks & Recreation by the World Federation of Rose Societies. This is currently one of 20 rose gardens in the world that has achieved this distinction.

The display consists of modern hybrid tea, grandiflora, miniatures, and landscape roses with a smaller collection of old garden shrub roses. Continuous deadheading (removal of old blooms) by volunteers keeps the roses blooming into the fall. The majority of roses in the garden are commercially available. About 10-20 varieties are replaced each year with some of the best new roses released on the market. Most of the roses removed are given to local rose societies for pruning demonstrations.

Each year, the Portland Rose Society awards honors for Portland's Best Roses including the people's choice for best fragrance. The Portland Rose Society's website also contains valuable information about the care and feeding of roses.

Updated: 6:30 PM GMT on August 07, 2012

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