Chapter Chat - April 2024

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Next Chapter Meeting
President's Message
Education Garden Update
Learning Garden Update
Gardenfest 2024 - Update
Upcoming Events
MGs of Note
National Volunteer Month
Dark Sky Research
DEI Contributed Article: Scorched Earth
DEI Update
Book Review
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
7:00 - 8:00 PM PDT - Free Webinar, Open to All
Registration Required
8:00-9:00 PM PDT - Members Meeting

The Vegetable Underground: A Guide to Growing Root Crops
Click Here To Register

Approved for 1 hour of Master Gardener Education Credit

Join the Washington County Master Gardener Association and nursery manager Darren Morgan for the dirt on root crops!  Root crops should be staples in every pantry - and every garden.  These vegetables combine very high yields, exceptional flavor and nutrition, and excellent tolerance for storage to eat later.  Many root crops are easy to grow, however they are a diverse group of plants, representing several different vegetable families, and each has specific needs and nuances.  This session will cover how to handle most of the major root crops for maximum success.

Darren Morgan grew up on a small farm in the Willamette Valley. He is the nursery manager at Shonnards Nursery in Corvallis, where he has worked for 33 years. He also teaches workshops and community education classes at the nursery, for organizations throughout western Oregon, and through Linn-Benton Community College.
It is raining, sometimes hard as I write. My daphne, is very happy; I’m not sure if the six star jasmine are even going to make it.
Training is starting for the new cohort of Master Gardeners April 2. Later in the month we will be participating with Metro and the other two counties in a Volunteer Opportunity Fair for the students. I look forward to meeting potential new members.
As the weather warms, keep an eye out for Metro volunteer activities such as the helpline, farmers markets and the Zoo. And of course, our own gardens, Grow 1 Give 1 and Gardenfest. Volunteer and education opportunities abound as you will see in the rest of Chapter Chat.

From an email I received from Amy Wachlin via Marcia McIntyre:
I have hundreds and hundreds of extra organic walla walla onion starts if anyone is interested.  Marcia thought you'd be good to spread the word for the other master gardeners. They can be available for pickup at our Farm in sherwood and people are welcome to text me, Amy Wachlin, if they'd like some 971-275-4778

On left, Dave Winchester (seated right) takes a break from Education Garden work with Ron Spendal in August 2018. On right, Dave Winchester's family at this spring's bench dedication.
Three Benches Placed in Honor of Dave Winchester
(WCMGA member 2015-2019)

In August 2019, WCMGA member Dave Winchester passed away. Dave became a Master Gardener in 2015 and immediately jumped right into his MG role by joining the Executive Board. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the establishment of the WCMGA Education Garden at PCC Rock Creek (2018). During the first year of installation, Dave was a frequent work party attendee - hauling soil, leveling beds and raking compost. Dave was kind, funny and loved sharing stories about his family and travels.

To honor Dave's passing and his love of gardening, his wife, Claudia Gallison, along with Dave's children, suggested that memorial donations be made to the WCMGA Education Garden. Through the generosity of family, friends and WCMGA members, we received enough donations to cover the cost of three benches, each with a plaque and a quote selected by the family. Due to COVID quarantine restrictions and other life events, the dedication of the benches did not occur until 2024.

March 16th was a beautiful spring day as Claudia and several family members gathered in the Community Circle at the Education Garden for an informal dedication of the benches. Susan Albright and Sue Ryburn were present to greet the family and share memories of our MG time with Dave. He is missed but not forgotten.
To right, Hell Strip prepped for planting natives.

Remodeling spaces is one of the most enjoyable parts of working in an evolving garden. This spring Susan Albright and Lisa Hansen set out to redesign the Hell Strip at the west entrance of the Education Garden. They received sage advice on suitable plants from Sauvie Island Natives owner, Jane Hartline. Now that existing plants have been relocated and weeds removed, pollinator-friendly blanket flower, rose checkermallow, and slender cinquefoil will blend with tough groundcovers like Oregon stonecrop and coastal strawberry. 
To left, Weed Flamer Training.

Along with the first blush of spring buds, leaves and flowers are also emerging weeds.  MGs from both our gardens were given a tutorial on set-up and usage by Multnomah Chapter Master Gardener, Rich Becker for the propane powered weed flamer.   A fun time torching weeds was had by all.  We are now equipped to use this method to manage weeds such as bittercress—which destroys the seeds, wild geranium, sorrel and more.
Other Happenings
  • The In the Garden Series (IGS) classes are in full swing with “Lawn be Gone” next up on Saturday April 6th in Building 7 at PCC Rock Creek. We still need a couple of volunteers to help set up and take down classes IGS on Saturday June 15, November 16, and December 7. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Larina Hoffbeck, if you can help. It is light work and you can claim education hours while attending the presentation plus partner hours for the set up and take down portion.
  • In April, our 3rd Saturday of the Month Work Parties resume (weather dependent). Contact Larina Hoffbeck, if you would like more details.
Pruning continued in the Learning Garden this month in many areas and was completed on the incredibly old climbing roses in the Pioneer Herb Garden. Great progress was made spreading wood chips throughout the garden. The vegetable garden and herb spiral teams started preparing beds for spring and planted early season crops. 
Clyde Keebaugh and Elizabeth Watkins made quick work of pruning a Quince tree.
Jeannine Rychlik and Jennifer Rosenquist preparing a vegetable bed for planting.
Herb Spiral ready for spring planting. 

In conjunction with the Ed Garden team a skyglow measurement unit was installed to allow the Learning Garden to participate in Dark Sky research, a citizen-scientist project to measure light pollution.

Larry Schick and Minoo Sweet discuss downloading data from skyglow measurement unit.

Regular work parties are on Thursday mornings. Come volunteer at a time that is convenient for you between 9 am and 1 pm. For more information contact Steve Kister or Robin Burnham
There’s still time to volunteer for Gardenfest 2024!
Thank you to everyone who has already volunteered to help with WCMGA’s Gardenfest Plant Sale!  This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, raising funds we use to support many of our programs and operational expenses.

This year’s sale will be on Saturday, May 4th at PCC’s Rock Creek Campus (same place as last year) 9am to 1pm. Various activities are already taking place and will continue through setup day on Friday, May 3rd.  We’re also planning for a clearance sale on Saturday, May 11th.  We still have a few slots to fill for this fun event and related activities, so if you haven’t already, please fill out the volunteer form at this link:
We encourage you to invite friends and family members to help out as well!

This is a great opportunity to work with your fellow Washington County Master Gardeners and earn volunteer hours for 2024. Please contact Larina Hoffbeck at with any questions.

Thank you for volunteering, and don’t forget to spread the word!  We have a public Gardenfest page with more details here:

OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers Susan Albright, Lisa Barnhart, and Tamara Newton-Baker will lead this class explaining turf removal methods and options for what to plant in its place (e.g., ecolawn, drought tolerant plants, native plants). They will also discuss planning, soil prep, planting tips, and touch on irrigation options. 

No registration needed.  Free parking.
For more information:


Great prices and large selection!

Join Washington County Master Gardeners for a fun-filled day shopping from a selection of thousands of plants expertly selected for the Pacific Northwest.  You can also get ideas from our Education garden, and ask gardening questions at our “Let’s Talk Plants” booth. The sale will offer Oregon native plants, perennials, shrubs, vegetables, houseplants and more for flower-filled gardens and bountiful harvests.

Our Master Gardeners are delighted to welcome you, inspire you, and help you succeed in your garden by providing practical knowledge on plants, garden care and diagnosing problems. There will be kids’ activities and Gifts for Gardeners, too.

OK to bring wagons – please, no pets.
Free parking

For more information, visit:

Holly Beare

Gardenfest 2024 is just around the corner. As in past years, Holly Beare (class of 2007) has worked to secure a donation of ~ 100 beautiful 'retail ready' shrubs and perennials from Eshraghi Nurseries (a premier national wholesale provider) for sale at Gardenfest. Each year, these large plants have contributed significantly to the quality of WCMGA's offering and are among the first to sell. Holly’s efforts for the success of Gardenfest has generated significant net income to WCMGA. As a sales floor representative, Holly shares her deep knowledge and advice with customers as they shop.
Holly was also an active contributor to the WCMGA website redesign project in 2023. She brought a critical ‘customer focus' perspective as the team worked through design and content issues for ‘ internal customers (members) as well as outward focus for the ‘gardening public customers' WCMGA serves. She is a thoughtful, straightforward, collaborative team member, who focuses on the core issues/needs and their solutions.
Please join us in thanking Holly for all her contributions!

Bruce Bartlett

WCMGA Members Only Facebook pages are being managed by Bruce Bartlett. He is also managing garden-related and Master Gardeners specific entries on the public Facebook pages. Bruce is giving our Chapter a presence on both social media sites. Along with members who are posting articles, photos and projects, Bruce is adding content of interest to gardeners. Bruce is recognized as a Master Gardener of Note for giving his time and his lively contributions on behalf of our Chapter on our Facebook social media sites. 
On behalf of all our members and the public who enjoy the “fruits” of your labor, thank you Bruce.
April Is National Volunteer Month and the WCMGA Chapter is recognizing Allyn Kirnak as one of our community volunteers. She has volunteered at the Learning Garden at Jenkins Estate for several years. Allyn is a valuable member of the Pioneer Herb Garden and Urban Edibles teams. She is thoughtful, thorough, and always willing to help other gardeners. She is pictured here (on the right) with Annette Bell at the Learning Garden Fair last summer where they demonstrated how to make lavender sachets.

Breaking News! Allyn has just been accepted into Metro Master Gardener training program with the goal of becoming a Master Gardener this fall.

National Volunteer Month is an extension of National Volunteer Week first held in Canada in 1943. At that time it was a tribute to the unwavering contributions of women during World War II who collected supplies and helped wounded soldiers. In the early 1970s there was a resurgence in volunteerism and National Volunteer Month was designated worldwide in 1990. Americans volunteer 8.8 billion hours annually. There are 1.8 million non-profit organizations in the United States. Our Master Gardener Chapter resoundingly recognizes the contributions of our community and member volunteers. 
Above left, Sky Quality Monitor (SQM) installed at the Learning Garden. Above right, Ron Spendal sequres the SQM at the Education Garden.
Education Garden and Learning Garden are New Washington County Sites for Measuring Night Sky Brightness
  • Following a fascinating presentation to the WCMGA from Mary Coolidge, BirdSafe & Lights Out Campaign Coordinator at the Bird Alliance of Oregon and DarkSky Oregon (DSO) board member, the decision was made to install Sky Quality Meters (SQMs) at both the Education Garden at PCC Rock Creek and the Learning Garden at Jenkins Estate. Stated simply, SQMs measure sky brightness in the night sky.
  • A successful grant application to the Juan Young Trust covered the cost of both SQMs.
  • Both SQMs were successfully configured, installed, and tested March 20th when Mary visited both gardens.
  • Ron Spendal’s creative installation at the Ed Garden will allow data downloads without the need for a ladder.  Bob Thompson, Clyde Keebaugh, and Larry Shick installed the Learning Garden’s SQM. 
  • Data will be downloaded quarterly for compilation with DSO’s other 50+ sites statewide. Teams have been created at both gardens to ensure quarterly data transfer.
  • The Oregon Outback in the southeast portion of our state was recently certified as the world’s largest Dark Sky Sanctuary. 
By Sher Diwata

Ukraine, Palestine, but have you heard of what’s going on in Burma? If you have, when was the last time you thought of the people of Burma? Burma has had infighting and civil war for 76 years—since 1948. Three years ago, in an attempted coup, the military created a pseudo-government and began operating in opposition to the standing government. This made things worse for the Burmese when they intensified ethnic cleansing and continued to force ethnic minorities out of their country into adjacent lands.
I knew little about this problem until I spent two weeks in Thailand with the US Campaign for Burma, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. I flew into Bangkok and then Chaing Mai. Once there, we spent most of our time driving five to seven hours in the mountainous winding roads of Thailand to meet with one to three organizations a day that comprised Burmese refugees—I got car sick almost every day. Our team consisted of two other women and our driver. We weren’t supposed to talk about what we were doing there until we were out of Thailand, not only for our safety but also for the people we were meeting with. People have been known to disappear.
    I was the designated note taker and asked questions where appropriate. There are many issues and organizations (refugee camps, humanitarian aid, education, women’s issues, different ethnic groups, etc), but the major topics seemed to be fourfold: the need for humanitarian aid, getting US  sanctions put on jet fuel due to air raids, removing the Burmese military from Burmese politics, and moving forward with a federal democratic government. Out of these four, the attacks on civilians, particularly the airstrikes on villages, is what I want to address today. 
Throughout my trip, I saw many photographs and videos of people actively fleeing violence—leaving their homes with nothing but what they could carry through the jungle. Not only did children have to be carried and cared for, but elders were also carried and helped to navigate the rough terrain. My interest piqued when I heard the refugees were “allowed to return”. This made little sense to me, so I asked more questions.
Refugees are “allowed” to return to their villages only after the army has planted landmines. And if refugees can navigate their way back, the military goes further by methodically destroying crops. This is increasingly devastating for crops that are required to dry for harvesting, such as rice fields—a staple in many cultures. Any portion of the fields that catch fire easily spread to the rest of the crops. Entire fields (and the year of effort used to nurture those plants) go up in flames, leaving nothing for the working farmer, their family, or their community. “Destroying …  farming is really clear that [the State Administration Council—the Burmese military junta] is destroying the means of humanity. This forces people to be in hunger. And this hunger can put peoples’ lives in danger. [Therefore], destroying the means of human beings,” said Banya Khun Aung, the Founder and Director of Karenni Human Rights Group and the Secretary II at the Interim Executive Council of Karenni State.
And this is only one small portion of how the Burmese military systematically discriminates against ethnic minorities. The Burmese military also engages in aerial bombings of civilian hospitals, schools, and churches; mass executions, murders and burials; sexual violence; torture; and the list goes on. Such atrocities go under the radar of the global majority because our attention gets pulled to newer conflicts, such as the Russo-Ukrainian War and Israel-Hamas Conflict. As Burma continues this 70+ year civil war, each year's casualty count adds to each year before it. 
As Master Gardeners, one of the issues we highlight is food sovereignty. So many of our fellow beings don't have a fraction of the privileges we do in the United States. We are able to grow our own food (either on land or containers) and what varieties. And if not, go to the grocery of our choice and choose items from a variety of brands. The complications continue, not only with food, but with so many other things when people cross over borders seeking safe refuge in a neighboring country. The least we can do is educate ourselves about what is happening to our fellow humans in that part of the world.
Find out more about what is happening in Burma at or read more about these airstrikes here in the New York Time’s article: The Country That Bombs Its Own People.

Following are pictures I took of the Thai countryside.
Food Sovereignty

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.
-Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

The article, “Scorched Earth” by Sher Diwata, shown earlier in this issue of the Chapter Chat and on the WCMGA DEI webpage describes one instance in which Food Sovereignty is threatened.

The members of the WCMGA DEI committee recognize that the terms and phrases used when discussing topics related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion may be unfamiliar or confusing to many people.  Definitions may also change over time.  Since gardening is for everyone, we’d like to help foster understanding of DEI vocabulary with our members and other readers of Chapter Chat and the WCMGA website.  

We’re featuring a different phrase or term each month throughout 2024 on our webpage here:

We hope you’ll check back each month for new words and phrases as well as examples of how Master Gardeners can incorporate these concepts into our work with the public and with our own members.
Set in the backdrop of the first Opium War between China and Britain, Robert Fortune was sent to China by the British East India Company on an expedition to rescue its failing tea industry. Fortune would be at the center of epic journeys of discovery, drama, and disasters. The suspense of his story is both science and adventure. Travel by foreigners in China was strictly limited and even forbidden in the interior of China. He adopted the disguise of a queue sewn into the back of his hair and clothing of Mandarin robes. He was successful in his mission to obtain tea plants and seeds, transport them around the country in Wardian cases and then return them to India for the British Empire. This was an astonishing feat for a Scottish gardener, botanist, and plant hunter.

Fortune made several trips to China and Japan for both Britain and the United States. His ultimate success in his colossal undertaking could be described as global corporate theft and espionage or a single-handed saving of the British tea industry. As Sarah Rose describes his motivations and practices, it seems he was a quintessential botanist and plant hunter, keeping impeccable records and dedicating his life to the science of botany. In his travels in Asia, he discovered bleeding heart, winter jasmine, white wisteria, chrysanthemum, and 12 species of rhododendrons. He answered a pervasive question at the time of whether black tea and green tea were from the same plant or not.

This is a book in which the history of botany and empire building are shown as codependent. Sarah Rose’s storytelling of Robert Fortune’s adventures and exploits is steeped in history so fantastic it practically seems like fiction. 

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