Madame Isaac Pereire –A Bourbon Rose

You can find this rose outside the west windows of the library. It is originally from France and is named after the wife of a member of a banking family during the reign of Napoleon III (1881).

 Bourbon roses are named for the ‘Ile Bourbon’, now called the island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, where they are supposed to have originated from a natural cross between the China rose `Parsons’ Pink’ from the far east and the red Damask Perpetual rose `Tous-les-Mois’, from Europe, two roses which were used as hedge material on the island during the Napoleonic war. (This, however, is an area of hot dispute between rose experts in almost every particular.)


The noble mole

The first photo, from a Wikipedia website, is of an unknown European mole I used for my photo of the week last week; a photo of an actual Townsend’s mole, taken from the “Sunrise Pest Management” of Tacoma website, is below the first photo. I can’t tell the difference, can you?


The Townsend’s Mole, Scapanus townsendii was first described and named by John Kirk Townsend, who in 1834 joined entrepreneur and explorer Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth on his 2nd journey to Oregon from the east. Nathaniel Wyeth built a fort, Fort William, on Wappatoo Island, which is now known as Sauvie Island just outside of Portland Oregon.

 Wyeth could not compete in business with Dr. John McLoughlin of the Hudson’s Bay Co. who was already at Fort Vancouver at this time and Wyeth traveled back to the east. Soon after this Dr. John McLoughlin purchased Fort William, demolished it and set up a separate Hudson’s Bay Co. operation in what is now Oregon City.

 John Kirk Townsend and his friend, Botanist Thomas Nuttall, who had also come west with Wyeth, stayed on in Oregon to study the animals and plants of the new land. Thomas Nuttall was the first botanist to describe the Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii which was named after him.

John Townsend was the first to describe the mole in the photo above and he was honored to have it named after him as well. Along with the mole, Townsend collected a number of other animals that were new to science, such as the Douglas Squirrel and the Vaux’s Swift.

 The Douglas Squirrel is the squirrel seen most often in the Pacific Northwest. The Vaux’s Swift was named after Townsend’s friend and fellow naturalist William Sansom Vaux of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. The central chimney at Chapman School in Northwest Portland Oregon houses the largest known roost of migrating Vaux’s swifts in the world! There are several other chimneys in the Portland area the Swifts use, one being in downtown Oregon City.

 While at Wyeth’s Fort William, Townsend served as the magistrate for the first public trial by Europeans in Oregon.  The fort’s gunsmith, Thomas J. Hubbard attacked and killed the fort’s tailor in an argument about a Native girl, Mary Sommata, who he later married. The crime was ruled to be justifiable homicide due to the tailor’s alcoholism.

 170 some odd years later, while dragon boating on the Willamette River, I spotted some of Vaux’s Swifts hunting for flying insects by the Ross Island Bridge. And today I found first hand evidence of one of Townsend’s moles living under my vegetable garden. While walking back to my office I went past two of  Nuttall’s Pacific Dogwoods and that’s what got me thinking about how much we owe to all those naturalists who spread out all over the world in the 1700’s and  1800’s discovering, describing, and categorizing, the natural world.

Photo for July 12, 2010










               English Lavender, Lavandula angustifolias (or)

                   Spike Lavender, Lavandula latifoli;

          I can never tell which is which. There is also a Spanish Lavender Lavandula dentata in this clump of 3 lavenders just outside of apt 38.

                   Josephine Bonaparte’s Lavender Mocha:  

          -Prepare in a drip-coffee maker one part fresh ground coffee to three parts crunched up fresh (or dried) lavender flowers.

           -Calculate the amount by assuming approximately one tablespoon coffee & three tablespoons lavender for each cup of coffee made.

          -Prepare an equal amount bittersweet hot cocoa separately.

          – Mix together.

          – Optionally, add a thimble or so of cocoa liquor.

Kodak moment July 5, 2010

The Townsend’s Mole, Scapanus townsendii was first described and named by John Kirk Townsend, who in 1834 along with renowned naturalist Thomas Nuttall, joined entrepreneur and explorer Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth on his 2nd journey to Oregon from the east.  Two other moles live in the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific mole, Scapanus orarius, and the California mole, Scapanus latimanus (which lives mostly in south central Oregon.)  It is the Townsend’s Mole however that I believe lives just outside my office and under my garden plots down in the gardens.

The leader of the 1834 expedition, Nathaniel Wyeth could not compete in business with Dr. John McLoughlin who was already at Fort Vancouver at this time and Wyeth soon traveled back to the east. Thomas Nuttall stayed here and went on to describe and name the Pacific dogwood tree, Cornus Nuttallii that is outside apt 200.

Kodak moment, June 28, 2010

Voodoo Lily, Dracunculus vulgaris

Voodoo lily, dragon lily, or snake lily; this fascinating lily, at the northeastern corner of apartment 103, was first described by botanist Heinrich Wilhelm Schott, who specialized in the Family of plants known as the Araceae and who in 1845 became the Director of the Imperial Gardens at Schonbruun Palace, Austria. It is native to the northeastern Mediterranean, Greece, and Southwestern Turkey.
Both male and female reproductive parts are in the bottom of the spectacular flower, which attracts flies with its rotten meat odor. The flies slide down the slippery insides of the flower and pollinate the flower, when the flower fades and collapses the flies can then escape. The plant does not eat insects. Fortunately the foul odor only lasts a day or two at most.

Long spring days jump into summer

It’s been a long dreary spring
Filled with wet rainy slug filled days
But summer has come as it always does
Not on a gentle breeze with a few
Soft mild days in between,
But with a swift bang of long sunny days
With record high temperatures

Sunburn for sure on my neck and my nose
Reminds me it’s time for my summer straw hat
My Hawaiian print shirts covered with flowers
And my shorts, my shorts where ever they are
Completing the picture my dark sunglasses
Which reside I am sure with my shorts
If I can just find where I left them last year

How can I sleep in this heat?
With too many covers and too many cats
The wide open windows
Bring the neighbor boys jungle beat drums
In to my too old and too tired ears
Restlessly turning and punching my pillow
I hopefully settle back down to sleep

To settle back down to dream
Of the hot summer sun
Beating down on my head
The sweat dripping down my neck
Sticking my shirt to my chest
Dreaming summer time dreams
Till the return of the cool wet days of autumn


I know I will be wishing for rain come the long hot days of late summer but good grief Charlie brown! Enough already!

I’ve got swiss chard that I planted a month ago, it was 5″ tall and it’s still 5″ tall and looks like it’s been beat with a stick. The corn I planted with all those high hopes early last month, maybe a quarter of the seeds showed up, I am going to have to replant all over again.  Which means the 1st crop of corn will be late for the luau and the 2nd crop may not ripen before the first frost.

 The only crop that is doing well is my slugs. They loved the bean seeds when they came up and then they really thought the bean starts I planted next were super tasty! The used coffee grounds slowed them up a bit, but the rain washed the coffee grounds away too quickly to really help much.  Like wise the Iron Phosphate I tried next, rain washed it away.

 And now the weatherman is saying we have 1″ to 1 1/2″ of rain to look forward to in the next few days. And I have a walking tour of the Villa scheduled for tomorrow, hope everyone brings umbrellas.

 The good news is I managed to get out during a dry spell and speak to the aphids the ants were “farming” on my espaliered fruit trees.  I gave them fair warning and then went and got some neem oil for the aphids in the curled up leaves and some regular ant spray for the bases of the trees and the fence posts the trees are espaliered upon for the ants. I’ve only seen one or two ants since then and they were staggering around with what I suspect was a terminal stomach ache.  The aphids are now in a delightful state of deadness.

The trees said thank you.

Sitting in my office
Waiting for summer
Watching the rain
Oh what a bummer