Remembering with Fondness and Gratitude: Ray McNeilan

Ray McNeilan
Photo courtesy of Jan McNeilan

It is with sincere sadness we report that Ray McNeilan, OSU Professor of Horticulture and head of the Extension Master Gardener program from 1978 to 1996, died on October 4, 2018.

It is impossible to overstate the impact that Ray had on Oregon’s Master Gardener Program and on home gardeners across Oregon. He taught generations of Master Gardeners, was a gracious colleague to fellow horticulturists, and authored several books and countless Extension fact sheets.

Ray was instrumental helping to establish the Oregon Master Gardeners Association (comprised of individual, county Chapters), as a non-profit 501(c) organization dedicated to raising funds and supporting the Oregon State Master Gardener program.

Upon his retirement, he continued to volunteer his time and expertise to the Master Gardener Program and to the Oregon Master Gardener Association. In honor of his contributions, the Oregon Master Gardener Association funds a scholarship for an OSU Horticulture student, in Dr. McNeilan’s name.

His smile was huge, as was his heart. Together with his wife Jan (who was also an OSU Extension Professional, and the Coordinator of OSU’s Master Gardener Program from 2003 to 2007), the McNeilans helped to establish the Statewide Master Gardener Endowment Fund at OSU, which has been integral to keeping the program strong, to this day.

A giant in the world of horticulture, Ray was humble, generous, and always smiling. His legacy will live on in the many Master Gardeners he trained, the students who study horticulture at OSU via the Ray McNeilan scholarship, and the many colleagues he has supported and encouraged.

The metro-area Master Gardener program remembers Ray with fondness and deepest gratitude, knowing the significant, positive difference that he made to the OSU Master Gardener program, the gardening public and horticulture in Oregon!

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests tax-deductible memorial donations to the program closest to his heart: OSU Master Gardener Program Endowment, OSU Foundation, 850 S.W. 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333-4015.

Ray and Jan McNeilan
Photo courtesy of Jan McNeilan

Natter’s Notes

A New Spider; Trellis Rust

Jean R. Natter, OSU Master Gardener

A new spider in Oregon: The Brown Widow Spider

The Brown Widow Spider (Latrodectus geometricus) recently identified (October 2018) in Oregon City, OR, is a tropical species unlikely to survive outdoors in the northwest. The hourglass mark on the ventral abdomen is orange instead of red as on the Black Widow (L. hesperus). (

Almost everybody loves to hate spiders. Especially during the late summer and fall, when the males are dashing around the house searching for females.

Well, let me introduce the Brown Widow Spider, Latrodectus geometricus, a relative of the black widow. Now, people have another spider to worry about. (The western black widow, L. hesperus, is scarce in western Oregon, more abundant in the south and east sections.)

A first-ever record for Oregon, the brown widow was found in Oregon City earlier this year. It resembles an adult-sized version of an immature black widow, a variable combination of off-white, brown, tan and black. It can be challenging to differentiate between the 2 species until they’re more than half-grown. Finding an egg sac makes it easier; the brown widow’s is “spiky” whereas the black widow’s is smooth.

Resources: Spiders

– Oregon Spider Facts, a livestream video, with the main topic the recently identified Brown Widow Spider (ODA 2018-10-01; Entomologists Jim LaBonte and Josh Vlach, ODA Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program;

– “How to Identify the Brown Widow Spider” (R. Vetter; UC Riverside) –

– “Brown Widow Spider: Facts from Entomologist Josh Vlach” (video; 2 min 35 sec;

– “Oregon Spiders” contains basic information and numerous links –

– Overview of potentially venomous spiders in Washington (and Oregon):

– “How to Identify the Hobo Spider” and the giant house spider (Eratigena atrica) – The final verification step: Examine the male palps (p.7) or the female epigyne (p.9).

Trellis Rust on Pear

Trellis Rust on pear was submitted to the Clackamas County MG office last month (October 2018). To date, reported cases in the metro counties have been mild, with the unusual eruptions (“acorns”) on the leaf reverse of only a few leaves on each infected tree. (Client image)

An alert client submitted images of Trellis Rust on 3 y.o. pear trees to the Clackamas County MG office last month (October 2018), a disease first identified in Oregon during 2016. Signs, symptoms, and the alternate host (juniper) are quite different from those of the more common Pacific Coast Pear Rust (alternate host incense cedar).

The MGs reported the infection to Jay Pscheidt, the OSU Plant Pathologist. Here’s his response:

Looks like we have this disease on pear in Benton, Marion, Clackamas and Multnomah counties. I have not heard of any other places. No one has made mention of it on Juniper which is interesting in itself.

From our experience this year in the Corvallis area it has not been too severe on pear. A few leaves on a few trees. In the home landscape, leaf removal seems a viable option for the moment.

I suspect chemical management may help but timing is everything. Bonide Fruit Tree and Plant Guard RTS is registered for pear but also contains an insecticide in addition to a group 7 + 11 fungicide. It should have some activity on both scab and rust. But we don’t need to be spraying pear trees now as the spores are heading to the juniper alternate host. Infuse Systemic Disease Control is registered for juniper and may have some activity to prevent infection of rust. In other words, spray pears in the spring and junipers in the fall if you want to use chemical protection.

Separation of the hosts will be the best method.

Resources: Trellis Rust on Pear

– Trellis Rust (PNW Handbook; –

– Pacific Coast Pear Rust (PNW Handbook –

– “Pear Trellis rust, a new disease” (Natters Notes; 2017-10 –

– “Pear Trees: Rust, times 2” (Natters Notes; 2018-06 –

PDF Version:

Natter’s Notes Spiders and Trellis Rust PDF

By Margaret Bayne, OSU Extension Staff-retired, OSU Master Gardener

November 2018

Keep Monarchs Wild!  Why captive rearing isn’t the way to help monarchs. (Emma Pelton,

Giant spider web stretches 1,000 feet across lagoon: They’re having a party!” (Jennifer Earl,

Fall is spider season and some may come inside-Citizen science project reveals where spiders prefer to hang out in your house. (

How to spider-proof your house this fall. (

Argiope aurantia
Yellow garden spider
(with zigzag stabilimentum)
5 July 2001
J. K. Barnes

More spiders:  Common Spiders of Washington.   Great publication! (Michael R. Bush et al, WSU)

Oregon Department of Agriculture website has great spider info too!

More people are turning to entomologists to identify parasites they believe are crawling on their bodies, but which turn out not to be real.  NOTE: While Master Gardener DON’T ever give out recommendations to someone with possible Delusionary Parasitosis, this is an interesting read…”Delusions of infestation aren’t as rare as you’d think.” (Erika Engelhaupt,

Hydrangeas play a pretty role in the garden.  Learn more from an OSU expert about these great plants! (Kym Pokorny, OSU, Heather Stoven, OSU; Oregon State news)

These incredible videos reveal how plants send distress signals when under attack. (

Freshwater insects contaminated by microplastics in rivers. (Cardiff University, via

Pruning may not solve shrub placement problems.  Check out this informative video. (Beth Bolles, U of Florida)

Roots, shoots and leaves: how plants keep symbionts in check. (Aarhus University via

Check out these old, but beautiful photographs from botanical literature.The Biodiversity Heritage Library improves research methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community.”

Plant Pathologists are heroes. Understanding an imaginary virus could have real consequences. (Alun Salt, Botanyone)

Yellow Jacket
Photo: OSU

Why you really need to stop squashing wasps. (

Check out these amazing photos from the 2018 Nikon Small World Microphotography winners. The beauty of the microscopic world – as you’ve never seen it before.” (Miss Cellania,

How fruits got their eye-catching colors.  Fruits owe their rainbow of colors to the various animals that eat them, study shows.” (Robin A. Smith, Duketoday.)

11 fun-gi facts: Fungi are frankly fantastic.  “From your daily bread to saving lives, they play a pivotal role in the world.  Here are a few facts you didn’t know about our fungal friends.” (Meryl Westlake,

Welcome to the hidden half of plants.  Plant roots are highly versatile structures with key functions that enable the plant to survive in the natural environment. (U of Nottingham)

How Dragonfly wings get their patterns.  New model sheds light on how nature generates diverse patterns. (Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences via

How a hormone helps plants build leaves’ ventilation system. (Standford U, via

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Photo: OSU

Could insecticide netting help manage Brown Marmorated stink bug infestations in homes? (John P. Roche, PhD,

The UK Heatwave Has Revealed a Secret Garden at Chatsworth House.  Very cool! (India Irving,

Beetle adapts chemical mimicry to parasitize different bee species. (University of California, Davis; via

Just for fun-A beautiful hand cut paper zoetrope that shows the full metamorphosis of a caterpillar to butterfly.  (Lori Dorn,

How two entomologists landed on TV with Bill Nye. (Laura Kraft,

PDF 2018 November Horticultural Update

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.
~Author Unknown

Thank You for Your Generous Service!

What a tremendous, positive difference metro-area OSU Master Gardener volunteers are making to the community!  We know that by reading your volunteer log sheets that you have submitted over the past few months.  We are awestruck by your generous service.  Utmost thanks however and wherever you contributed to and touched our community, whether answering the MG hotline and Farmers Market clinic questions, contributing to citizen science projects, digging deep at community gardens, or educating and presenting at community events!  Thank you for sharing your passion and knowledge, engaging and educating the gardening public on how to be good earth stewards and successful gardeners!

Show You Are “Current” – 2019 MG Sticker

For those who have fulfilled the requirements to maintain their status as an active and “current” Master Gardener you will receive a 2019 Recertification sticker to proudly display on your MG badge.  The sticker is a designation that you are current and up-to-date, having completed all required volunteer service hours, continuing education opportunities, and completed forms.  Stickers will be distributed at Fall Recertification and mailed (by year’s end) to those who can’t attend Fall Recertification. For MGs still needing information about how to remain current, please refer to the Volunteer Portal’s How to Maintain Active OSU Master Gardener Status page.

If you have yet to send in your volunteer log sheet and your signed 2018_2019 Conditions of Volunteer Service form – please send them in as soon as possible so you too can receive your 2019 Recertification sticker and we will keep you on our ‘active’ Master Gardener roles.

Spread the Word!  2019 MG Training Registration Open!

How do the majority of people learn about Master Gardener training?  From Master Gardeners of course!

Now is your chance to let others know about the rewarding opportunities available serving as a Master Gardener volunteer.  Registration is now open for the 2019 Master Gardener Training!  Share the word with your gardening friends, wanna-be gardeners, and fellow community members.  Direct those interested to our Metro-area Master Gardener website for easy online registration.

Reduced-priced application options are available on a limited basis.  If you know someone who would be interested while serving the community as a garden-educator and would qualify for a reduced-price option, please direct them to our MG Training registration page for an application and qualifications.  The MG Training Fellowship and Scholarships are offered thanks to the generosity and guidance of the metro-area Chapters.

Calling All MGs on Nextdoor, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

If social media is a favorite communication avenue for you, please consider sharing about the Master Gardener training registration on the social media sites on which you participate.  Share posts from our Facebook and Twitter accounts or direct those interested to our website.  We would love to cover all Nextdoor neighborhoods in the metro-area.  If you need more information or would like a promotional photo to post – please contact Marcia McIntyre:

2019 MG training promotional fliers and postcards will be available at Fall Recertification to distribute to metro-area public venues.

Fall Recertification – Expand Your Horticulture Knowledge

Saturday, November 10, 8:00am to 3:30pm

  • Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus, building #9
    17705 NW Springville Rd, Portland, OR 97229 See campus map

This annual event is a day-long continuing education opportunity. See the detailed Fall Recertification agenda here.

Earn 6 hours of continuing education (recertification) credit for 2019 by attending.  Veteran MGs and “new” Veterans who trained in 2018 need 10 hours of continuing education training annually to retain status as an ‘active, current’ OSU Master Gardener.  Fall Recertification is a great way to get a start earning your continuing education hours for 2019.

This year’s presenters will be sharing their wealth of knowledge and expertise…

  • The Science of Ecological Gardening with Gail Langellotto, Ph.D., OSU
  • Plant ID, Beyond the Basics with Heather Stoven, OSU
  • Japanese Beetle Update with Jessica Rendon, Oregon Department of Agriculture
  • Never doubt how a small, thoughtful and committed pollinator habitat (in your garden) can change the world! with Andony Melathopoulos, OSU

Fall MG Recertification is also when we take the time to congratulate and cheer on the new 2018 Class of Master Gardeners who have successfully completed their training requirements and those who are continuing to work towards completing their volunteer service.  Weston Miller will present the new 2018 class to their fellow Veteran Master Gardeners between 11:45am and 12:15pm.  At that time Weston will also give an update on the metro-area MG program.

Lunch break highlights…

  • Pick-up OSU MG badges for new 2018 Veterans and certificates of appreciation for those who made the request!
  • Tour the Washington Co. Chapter’s new Education Garden located on the PCC Rock Creek campus!
  • Shop the Chapter fundraising tables for garden books, tote-bags, t-shirts, tools, and more!
  • Catch up with MG friends or meet someone new!

The event is free to all Master Gardeners both Veterans and those finishing their 2018 training year.

Bring a snack to share on the community table, your own sack lunch and wear your Master Gardener badge.

With Deep Gratitude and Fond Remembrance

Ray McNeilan
Photo courtesy of Jan McNeilan

It is with sincere sadness we report that Ray McNeilan, OSU Professor of Horticulture and head of the Extension Master Gardener program from 1978 to 1996, died after a long illness.  We remember Ray with deep gratitude and fond remembrance.  Read about the significant impact Ray had on the OSU Master Gardener program, Master Gardeners, and home gardeners throughout the state…

You’re Invited!
Online Survey Regarding Public’s Understanding of Pollinators

Study: Exploring the gap between public understanding of pollinators and pollinator needs in Oregon

You are invited to take part in a survey that will generate useful information on the public’s understanding of pollinators to help modify outreach and education documents in the future.  To learn about this study and to participate, follow this link:

Speaking of Pollinators…

Mason Bee
Photo: Ramesh Sagili, OSU

In October, it was a delight to watch Oregon Field Guide, as they highlighted OSU Extension Service Master Gardener, citizen scientist, Ron Spendal, and his commitment to learning more about the mighty pollinator, mason bee.  How wonderful to recognize the dedicated, great work that Ron is doing!  Way to go Ron!

To view the episode:

Message from State Master Gardener Coordinator Gail Langellotto:

“Several Master Gardeners and members of the general public have called on Extension to provide guidance on glyphosate use. Kaci Buhl (OSU Statewide Pesticide Safety Education) and Chip Bubl (OSU Extension Horticulture/General Agriculture) collaborated to develop a list of Q&As that might be helpful to MGs.”  See the document below…

Glyphosate Questions & Answers

Kaci Buhl, Chip Bubl, Oregon State University Extension

What is glyphosate?

It’s a weed-killing chemical found in Roundup and many other weed killers. Like other herbicides, it is usually combined with one or many other ingredients to make the final product.

Does OSU have an official position for or against using glyphosate?

No. It is our mission to educate, not to legislate. We’re happy to answer questions and help find solutions using any legal, effective methods, while considering the risks.

Does glyphosate cause cancer in humans?

Maybe, at high enough doses. If it caused cancer at realistic exposure levels from using weed-killers, then farmers and other applicators would be the first to show this effect. The largest study ever published, looking at farmers and other applicators, found no association between glyphosate and solid tumors, including Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL).

That study found a potential association between glyphosate exposure and a certain type of blood cancer that was not statistically significant. Another study suggested that using fertilizers could account for this risk.

Why do regulators disagree about this?

They don’t. Not really.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined in 2015 that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. That determination was surprising to many. IARC responded to critics by clarifying its intent – to identify potential hazards. They asked, “Can it cause cancer under any circumstances?” They group hazards based on the strength of evidence, not the potency of the carcinogen(s). They defer to national and international bodies to take the next step, which is risk-assessment. Risk assessment is based on expected levels of exposure and background cancer rates.

Many governments have published risk assessments about glyphosate, finding it is unlikely to cause cancer in humans when used according to the label directions as required.

To put the IARC determination in context, they put the following items in the same category as glyphosate, Group 2A “Probable human carcinogens.”

  • Red meat
  • Indoor emissions from burning wood
  • High-temperature frying
  • Late-night work shifts

The following items were placed in a stronger-evidence category, “Known human carcinogens.”

  • Processed meats
  • All alcoholic beverages
  • Sunlight
  • Engine exhaust
  • Outdoor air pollution

The work of hazard identification is important, but it’s only the first step in understanding risk.

What about the other ingredients in Roundup?

Researchers reviewed the scientific literature on glyphosate, its major metabolite AMPA, formulated Roundup® products manufactured by Monsanto, and the surfactant POEA. They concluded that none of the components caused cancer. However, POEA can be harmful to a variety of aquatic wildlife (i.e. minnows, frogs, micro-organisms).

It can be difficult to determine the risks associated with other ingredients in pesticide formulations, including Roundup. This is because manufacturers are not currently required to identify “other ingredients” on product labels.

How have the courts ruled?

Courts have ruled in different ways on this issue. A California jury found Monsanto liable in August 2018 for causing a man’s cancer. The man used glyphosate weed-killers for years. The case has been appealed. In contrast, a federal judge in California ruled in June 2018 against the state’s case for placing warning labels on containers of glyphosate under Proposition 65. It would have required warnings about the potential for glyphosate to cause cancer. The judge cited a “heavy weight of evidence” that the risk was very low. The courts will likely evaluate more cases in the future.

Are foods with glyphosate residue safe to eat?

A tiny amount of glyphosate is not likely to cause harm, even if we eat those foods daily. There are residue limits for glyphosate on many fruits, vegetables, corn, grains, milk, and eggs. The FDA monitors the level of glyphosate on foods in the marketplace. So far, they have not found foods with too much residue, based on risk assessments. The dose makes the poison.

How can I reduce my risk?

If you choose to avoid glyphosate exposure altogether, seek out organic foods with the official logo from USDA. Glyphosate is not allowed to be used in organic settings. Use alternative methods of weed control. Talk with your local master gardeners about what’s working for them..

If you choose to use glyphosate weed-killers, make sure to follow the product label carefully. The label is the law. While glyphosate is poorly absorbed through the skin, some parts of the body are more absorptive than others. Minimize your exposure, and keep others away until sprays have dried. Talk with your neighbors about any concerns they might have, and take steps to accommodate their needs.

Video Series – Fall Gardening Tasks