The Annual “Death to Scotch Broom” Blog Posting

Every year, around this time, all those yellow flags – those scotch broom flowers – come out to wave. Next will come the seeds and, next year, more scotch broom. There are noxious weeds and then there’s scotch broom. Now is an excellent time of year to get serious about reducing the amount of scotch broom on your property.

So, responsible rural property owners want to know: What makes scotch broom so bad?

Scotch broom is a prodigious seed producer. The seeds have hard coats enabling them to survive in the environment for up to 80 years. Once established, scotch broom forms dense brush fields over six feet tall. The brush fields diminish habitat for grazing animals, such as livestock and native animals. Areas of dense brush shade out and kill native grassland plants in invaded areas, and favor invasion by other woody, non-grassland plant species.

Scotch broom prevents reforestation, creates a high fire hazard, renders rangeland worthless and greatly increases the cost of maintenance of roads, ditches, power and telephone lines. Wildlife suffers as the growth becomes too dense for even quail and other ground birds to thrive. Being slightly toxic and unpalatable it is browsed very little by livestock.

If you cut your trees, so that a lot of sunlight reaches the ground, you’ve probably now got scotch broom to cut.

How do you eradicate scotch broom?

There are two schools of thought, those who say pull out the whole plant and those who will tell you, if you’re clever and your timing is right, all you need are a pair of lopping shears.

From the School of Pulling Out the Plant, we get these instructions:

Pull out the entire plant, including roots. When the soil is moist, small plants can be pulled easily by hand. Winter and spring are good seasons to do this.

Larger plants must be removed with a tool such as a Weed Wrench. Be sure to remove the entire plant. Broken stems re-sprout and are much harder to remove for the next person. Plants can be left where pulled.

One of the benefits of being a member of the Griffin Neighborhood Association is members can rent our Weed Wrench.

Not yet a member of the GNA? Dang, what are you waiting for?! Click here to join online.

From the School of Cutting Broom in Bloom, we get these instructions:

First, cut broom in bloom. Use loppers or small saws and cut broom right at ground level.

Broom puts all of its energy into making flowers. If you cut it while in bloom, it will most likely die in the summer’s dry heat.

If you have to make a choice, go after single plants and small infestation to prevent its spread.

If the broom is huge, cut off as many of the branches as you can. If the broom is small and not blooming, you can return and cut it next year when it blooms.

It is most important to not let the broom go to seed! Cut before June 17 (this date is from Vancouver Island’s “BroomBusters” web site, so it’s probably earlier, down here in the South Sound).

CUT DOWN ALL YELLOW FLOWERS so that they can not turn into seeds. Each scotch broom plant can produce 2,000 to 3,500 seed pods – which burst open, shooting seeds into adjacent soil. If you cut them while in bloom – no seeds!

HERBICIDES applied in the spring when new leaves are present are another effective control tool, but always remember to read the labels carefully and exercise extreme care when applying chemicals, especially near waterways.

DO NOT BURN SCOTCH BROOM! When exposed to fire, its seeds burst from their seedpods. Also, the smoke from burning scotch broom is actually toxic and may seriously irritate the respiratory tracts of you, your family, or your neighbors.

TAKE SCOTCH BROOM TO THE DUMP. The best way to get rid of scotch broom, once it is cut, is to take it to Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center.

The Thurston County Noxious Weed Control Agency offers the following information and services to the public: Educational presentations, plant identification especially those that may be noxious weeds, consults on your property, prescriptions for specific noxious weed problems and what the county approves for its own use, free disposal of designated noxious weeds at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery centers, and limited use of a manual removal tool called the wrench. Also available are many informational brochures and pamphlets as well as several videos.

So, responsible homeowner, get out there and cut your scotch broom!

Science Café to Present “Radiation Basic through Spent Nuclear Fuel”

This month the Science Café of Olympia takes on the topic of “Radiation Basic through Spent Nuclear Fuel.”

When: 7:00 pm, Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Where: Batdorf & Bronson Coffee House, 516 Capitol Way S. Olympia, WA, phone (360) 786-6717.

Batdorf & Bronson has three locations in Olympia. Science Café meets at the downtown coffee house on Capitol Way.

On-street parking is available on Legion, Capitol Way, Columbia Street, and Water Street. After 6 p.m., parking is available at Heritage Bank on Columbia Street between 5th and Legion.

Against the backdrop of global climate change, nuclear power has come back into the public consciousness. While there are many aspects to this discussion, the single most challenging issue, both politically and technically, is spent nuclear fuel. Using spent nuclear fuel as a context, we will discuss radiation and radioactive material, and their effects on people and the environment.

Our presenter this month is Mike Brennan. He has been a Radiation Health Physicist for the State of Washington Department of Health for 19 years. He is a retired US Navy Lieutenant Commander, having served in the submarine community for 20 years. He has a degree in Nuclear Engineering and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of Washington.

Coming in June: “The Science of Brewing Beer” by Adam Orrick, Brewmaster, Grove Street Brewhouse.

We welcome comments and suggestions on topics, speakers, and how we can improve our meetings. Also, please feel free to pass this notice on to like-minded friends.

Science Café of Olympia provides an informal atmosphere where people both with and without scientific background can meet to gain a better understanding of interesting topics in science and technology. After a brief presentation by an expert in the field, the meeting will be opened to discussions. Science Cafés are found nationwide and are loosely affiliated with the U.K.-based Cafe Scientifique, an international organization promoting public engagement with science. The website is produced by the Science Unit of WGBH in Boston in association with Sigma Xi. Support for Science Café of Olympia is provided in part by the Puget Sound Chapter of The American Chemical Society.

For more information, visit these web pages:

We thank Batdorf & Bronson and its staff for welcoming us to their delightful gathering spot.

Feline Friends Plant Sale – Saturday, May 1st

The huge, annual Feline Friends Plant Sale will be this Saturday, May 1st, at Griffin School.

Once again a number of local residents have volunteered their Saturdays in April and helped to dig and pot many different perennials and divided dahlias for the sale that benefits our own neighborhood “cat house,” Feline Friends.

Rain or shine, the sale starts at 9am and ends at 3pm. Many plants for hummingbird and butterfly gardening, as well as great cut flowers (the same you see in the summer bouquets at Island Market) are ready to be a delight in your garden. Cameron Seeds will be for sale.

100% of the proceeds benefit Feline Friends, and it couldn’t be done without the support of the local community.

If you can’t make it this Saturday, but would like to attend one of the other animal rescue Plant Sales that we support in Mason and Thurston Counties, please click here to email Diane Jacob for a schedule.

Free Workshop on the Basics of Shellfish Growing – May 15

Washington Sea Grant is offering “Shellfish in Your Front Yard,” a day-long workshop that will teach participants to identify, cultivate and safely harvest shellfish on their beaches.

This free workshop is scheduled for Saturday, May 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 Griffin Fire Department Headquarters, 3707 Steamboat Loop N.W., Olympia.

Participants will learn about the biology of bivalve shellfish, which shellfish grow best on their beach type, and various methods for enhancing tidelands with clams, oysters and mussels. The workshop will also focus on ways to protect water quality so that harvested shellfish will be safe to eat.

Workshop instructors include local shellfish farmers and Washington Sea Grant staff. The workshop will feature classroom and on-the-beach activities. Participants should bring sack lunches, wear mud boots or beach shoes and dress for the weather.

Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Teri King or Janis McNeal, Washington Sea Grant, at or 360-432-3054.

Funding for the Bivalves for Clean Water program is provided in part through EPA Grant Number C9-00044905 to the Washington Department of Ecology from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Ecology allocates and administers funding for this project. Based at the University of Washington, Washington Sea Grant provides statewide marine research, outreach, and education services. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S.Department of Commerce.

Seafood Buffet to Benefit Taylor Shellfish “Relay for Life” Team – May 17

On Monday, May 17, Taylor Shellfish will host a fundraiser for the Taylor Shellfish “Relay for Life” team. A seafood buffet will be held at the highly-regarded Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House, 221 W. Railroad Avenue in Shelton. The event is from 5 to 8 PM.

The cost is $20 per person.

This is a terrific way to enjoy a delicious seafood buffet and support a great cause.

Buy tickets in advance at Taylor Shellfish or call Brian at 490-2237.

What is Relay for Life?

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.

Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 20 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. Thanks to Relay participants, the American Cancer Society continues to save lives.

Click here to learn more about the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Free Workshop to Help Shoreline Residents, Beginning This Thursday, April 22

A free, two-part workshop begins this Thursday evening and concludes on Sunday afternoon. The workshops are geared to folks living along the shore, to help them better understand shoreline processes and what they can do on their homesites to help protect both their property and Puget Sound. The workshops will be led by experts in coastal geology, shoreline vegetation, and Puget Sound ecology.

An evening “Shoreline Living” workshop on Thursday, April 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. will cover topics such as: tree maintenance for slope stability and views; site assessment & planning tools; understanding your shore’s natural processes; best plants for your shoreline and how to maintain them; and guidance for tackling projects on your own & when to call in experts.

Thursday evening’s workshop is held in the Thurston County Courthouse complex, Building 1, Room 152.

For more hands-on learning, participants can attend an optional field day on Sunday, April 25 from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m. at a local private shoreline residence. The residence is located on the east side of Eld Inlet, near The Evergreen State College.

  • 12:30-1:30 p.m. site assessment and coastal geology characterization. This is an opportunity to learn more about coastal geologic processes and the best practices to ensure a stable bank or bluff.
  • 1:30 to 4 p.m. planting workshop. Participants will learn how to plant live stakes and other native plants to protect their shorelines.

Both events are free and include many resources for participants, but advanced registration is required by contacting WSU Extension’s Native Plant Salvage Project at or 360-867-2166.

Help us to promote this event! Click here to download a copy of the flyer, to give to a neighbor or friend.

The workshops are sponsored by the Russell Family Foundation, Puget Sound Partnership, Thurston County Stream Team, Sound Native Plants, and Clear Choices for Clean Water campaign.

Dragon Boat Races


Join the crowd to cheer on the Griffin Dragon Boat team this year. The Annual Dragon Boat Race & Festival, sponsored by the Office of International Programs & Development, St. Martin’s University, will take place at the Port Plaza on Sunday April 25th. If you have never seen a Dragon Boat Race, you are in for a rare treat. Come help make Griffin the winning team! The dotting of the eye happens at 9am. What is that? Come and see. . .

Click here to see a picture of the Griffin School’s Dragon Boat.

Parenting Education Workshops Begin April 26

FREE! Parenting Education Workshops for Griffin Families!

sponsored by the

Monday nights 6-8:00 pm, April 26th through June 7th (no workshop on Memorial Day, Monday May 31st) in the Griffin Library.

Free childcare will be provided.

Parents are welcome to join us for one, two, or the whole series!

The First Topic will be: Creating a Parenting Map – Exploring Discipline Strategies

Subsequent topics will be decided based on the interests of the parents who are in attendance at the first workshop.

Topic options include:

Managing Anger
Parenting Styles
Sibling Rivalry
Family Balance
Power and Boundaries
Gun Play and Violence
Safety Without Fear
High-Needs Child
Learned Optimism
Emotional Intelligence
Delayed Gratification
Family Counsel
Teaching Kids to Problem Solve
Emotional Rapport

To register, or for more info please call Helke at 754-9297 ext. 204

JennyAnn Wheeler has been involved with parenting education for 18 years. JennyAnn single-parented her oldest child, Megan (20 years old) for 10 years before meeting her husband and having her second child, Henry (9 years old). JennyAnn lives in Olympia with her family and offers parenting education in both a class setting, in conjunction with the Family Support Center and in private sessions in client’s homes.

Click here for more information regarding The Family Support Center of South Sound.

Seeking Justice in Latin America


2103 Harrison Avenue, Suite 2, PMB 712, Olympia, Washington 98502-2607


Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Father Roy Bourgeois speaks on

“The Struggle for Justice in Latin America”

Sunday, April 11, at 2 PM

The Evergreen State College

2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia 98502
Lecture Hall #1 off Red Square

Sponsors of the Event

Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation
Catholics: Call To Action Western Washington
The Evergreen State College: Latin American Student Organization, LASO
Committee in Solidarity With The People of  El Salvador – CISPES
Olympia Area Peace Corps Association
Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace-OMJP
Veterans for Peace: Chapter 109

In 1980 Fr. Roy, Maryknoll priest, became involved in issues surrounding US policy in El Salvador after four US churchwomen–two of them his friends–were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers. Roy became an outspoken critic of US foreign policy in Latin America. Since then, he has spent over four years in US federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the training of Latin American soldiers at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

In 1990, Roy founded the School of Americas Watch, an organization that does research on the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Each year the school trains hundreds of soldiers from Latin America in combat skills – all paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

The School of the Americas Watch, located just outside the main entrance of Fort Benning and in Washington, DC, informs the general public, Congress and the media about the implications of this training on the people of Latin America. For the last 10 years there has been a peaceful protest with over 24,000 in attendance.

Food Drive This Saturday, April 3, 11 AM to 5 PM

Griffin area residents join with others throughout north Thurston County this Saturday, April 3, to collect food and cash donations for the Thurston County Food Bank. Please stop by the Island Market, between the hours of 11 AM and 5 PM and make a donation. This is a holiday weekend and a perfect time to remember the many children, families and individuals who are struggling in these difficult times.

Island Market
Saturday, April 3
11 AM to 5 PM

Food Donation Ideas:

  • High protein food such as canned chili, peanut butter, beans, or canned meat.
  • Pasta and Macaroni and Cheese.
  • Canned fruit and vegetables.
  • Soup.
  • Baby Food and Formula.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables that store well in a refrigerator.

Cash and checks are greatly appreciated, too.

The Food Bank will receive a certain percentage of matching funds from the Feinstein Foundation for any monetary donations made this weekend. SEE YOU AT THE ISLAND MARKET THIS SATURDAY!

Thank you, Kris Ness, for coordinating the food drive at the Island Market.

UPDATE (April 4):

Kris Ness reported the food drive raised an estimated 300 lbs of food (10 banana boxes), and a little over $350 in cash/checks. The drive at the Island Market was part of an effort across the north Thurston County. “Total food raised for Thurston County Food Bank was 3300 lbs, so we did our share,” said Kris. “A HUGE THANK YOU to Steve, Dale, Terry and Helen. It was lovely to meet all of you, and I really appreciate your company and help.”

Many thanks to the Island Market, Steamboat General (who raised 2 boxes there with no “staffing”), the Griffin Fire Department for the posting a notice on their reader board., and a general thank you for the 3 un-named girls who raised $500 ($400 they sent to Haiti, and $100 for the Food Bank).