Hardy Begonias

by Eline Lybarger, Guest Writer

Tuberous Begonias, with their luscious blooms, have long been a staple in our summer shade gardens, but they are not winter hardy. Wax Begonias, also not hardy, have beautiful leaves.  Of the 2,000 species of begonias, until recently the only hardy begonia has been Begonia grandis. There is nothing special about it: green leaves with tiny pink and white flowers. It is also so aggressive outside of a pot that it is hardly worth the bother. Fortunately, plant breeders are working to cultivate new species of hardy begonias with interesting leaf shapes, sizes, colors and patterns.  

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Island Walk

by Suyin Karlsen, guest writer

It wasn’t yet sunrise and already a flock of sparrows was engaged in raucous chatter outside. Their living room was a Flame of the Forest tree ablaze with orangey red crab-claw flowers. One single tree rivaling a noisy fish market. Yet, guests at the Golden Sands Hotel in Penang, an island off the northwest coast of Malaysia slept on, as if under a spell. Even when they were awake and walking about, tourists appeared as if under a spell. There was just so much to absorb; first, the tropical heat, then there was the humidity. If they came from afar, there was the jet lag. The island is foreign but friendly, noisy but a bargain – exchange rate, that is – which all adds up to being exotic when you throw in impressive beach hotels with first rate service.

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The Klondike Gold Rush and Seattle’s Rebirth

by Milton Lum, Contributing Writer

On the afternoon of June 6, 1889, a glue pot boiled over igniting the wood floor of a factory on the waterfront in Seattle. The fire department arrived 30 minutes too late to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjoining saloons and liquor stores. Fueled by the alcohol, the fire burned out of control until it had consumed 120 acres (twenty-five city blocks) resulting in over twenty million dollars in losses. A year later, aided by financial donations from Tacoma and San Francisco, the city had rebuilt itself with four hundred sixty-five new brick buildings replacing the wooden structures. Seattle’s growth was accelerated by the events in the Klondike which catapulted Seattle from a sleepy frontier town to a major metropolis on the world’s stage.

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Port Gamble – the Company Town Remains

by Tim Rensema, Contributing Writer

Most of us have probably traveled through Port Gamble at some time, either rushing for the Kingston Ferry or taking the shortcut to Poulsbo. A few may have stopped in to sample the restaurant fare and walked the peaceful grounds, or visited the quilt shop in the old stables. As I wrote in an earlier article, many of the homes in Port Gamble were barged there in the 1950s from Port Ludlow, and most of those homes still remain today. In 1853, Port Gamble (then called Teekalet by the S’Klallam) was selected by Pope and Talbot as the site of the cornerstone mill for their lumber empire, and it remained so until 1995, when it was permanently closed. The last few years have been spent cleaning up the site where the log storage and sawmill had been located.

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No-Shoe Nomad

by Jim Gormly, Contributing Writer

He was the eccentric barefoot wanderer of the Northwest. No, I don’t mean the unconventional star of the National Geographic reality series, The Legend of Mick Dodge, who lives off the land in the Hoh Rain Forest. I refer instead to Jonathan Chapman, a quirky itinerant who wore no shoes or socks, clothed himself in cast-off feed sacks, slept under the stars, and planted apple seeds in the Old Northwest (Ohio to Illinois) during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Though more commonly known as Johnny Appleseed, this outlandish, yet humble, man was more complex than the simple image presented in the 1948 Disney cartoon.

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by Eline Lybarger, Contributing Writer

Euphorbia (also known as Spurge) come in all sizes and shapes: trees, shrubs, herbs, even cacti-looking plants. Their flowers and foliage are just as varied, sometimes sporting weird shapes with colorful bracts that endure long after the flowers are gone. The good news is that they are drought tolerant, disease free, and avoided by predators. They do require full sun and well-drained soil, but the soil can be rocky or with few nutrients. That said, there is a Marsh Spurge that can even grow in shallow water. They all generally grow two to three feet tall and wide and have bright yellow-green flowers.

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The American Goldfinch

by Mark Hopkinson, Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: This summary, with excerpts, is transcribed
from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, allaboutbirds.org. It is

subject to copyright restrictions and limited to non-commer-
cial uses.

Many of us have goldfinches at our backyard feeders from spring through early fall and look forward to the male’s brilliant yellow and contrasting black wing feathers as sign of spring. The females and other winter plumages are less distinct, but they’re still quite a handsome bird to have around. Cornell Lab says the American Goldfinch is the only finch that molts its body feathers twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer.

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Climbing Kilimanjaro

Tim Propeck, Contributing writer

Mount Kilimanjaro Submitted Photo

A few years back my wife and I took a trip to Africa to do a safari in Kenya and Tanzania. This was our first visit to Africa, and the trip exceeded our expectations in all dimensions. There was something special about seeing all the wildlife in their natural habitat. One of the high points for me was getting to see Kilimanjaro. It is a very unique mountain. It is the highest stand-alone mountain in the world at close to 20,000 feet tall. It is the tallest mountain in Africa, which puts it on the list of the Seven Summits for mountaineers.

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