Saturday, July 11, 2020


I've been reading "OH, LA LA!" by Ciscoe Morris.  Ciscoe Morris is familiar to many in the Northwest as a noted speaker at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle, radio host and garden writer.  He is also the retired director of the grounds department at Seattle University.

The mentality of commercial landscapers as well as policies of institutional grounds keeping in 1978 was "Spray first, ask questions later."

Not long after he started he was surprised to see someone spraying the campus trees.  When asked, the sprayer identified himself as the campus painter and apparently in the eyes of Morris, the self-appointed exterminator.  The painter/sprayer said he sprayed most of the trees at least four or five time a year.  He didn't know what bugs he was trying to kill  but it didn't really matter--"the only good bug is a dead bug."

Around 1981 Morris attended a WSU County Extension seminar on integrated pest management (IPM), considered to be a new method of pest control.  As they say, "the rest is history".  Morris was convinced that IPM was the way to go.  He had never really believed that spraying was the right way to go.  Morris had more than one battle to fight with the good ole boy regiment until the positive results were seen and it was realized that the budget for chemical treatments could be eliminated.  Money talks.

The book is a collection of his gardening experiences in the Seattle area, many of which we can't fully appreciate because we don't culture the same plants.

The principles of gardening are the same all over--right plant in the right place, water, fertilizer, soil maintenance.  We may not have slugs but we have earwigs to damage our gardens.  As I read his stories I mentally substituted our problems with problems he had experienced in the Northwest.

We are one step ahead of him in how to deal with big rocks when landscape redesign is necessary.  We accept the big rocks as part of our natural landscape. We work around  them, incorporating them into our planting beds.  Generally we accept them and appreciate their ability to absorb heat to be released on those chilly nights when the temperatures are starting to threaten   When he finally conceded that he couldn't move a large boulder, the result of an excavation, it became a focal point on campus and everyone loved it.

After reading his tale of Mollusk Marauders, I realized Thanksgiving, a day of giving thanks, isn't just a day in November.  The day should be celebrated everyday we work in our gardens.

Studies has shown that there can be as many as 6,000 slugs in the average Northwest garden in spring.  Morris states slugs have both male and female reproductive organs and are capable of mating with themselves if necessary.  The eggs are laid in clutches of 30 to 50 eggs at a time and they lay at least  200 eggs per year.  The brown garden snail can lay as many as 500 eggs in one season.  That is a good enough reason to be vigilant about checking the bottom of a container when purchasing a plant.  Those pesky slugs apparently have also decided Central Oregon is the place to settle and hitch a ride across the mountains on nursery trucks.

As we mutter and sputter over gardening this and that--remember to be grateful.  We could be fighting "mollusk marauders" not earwigs!

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