Woodlake sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, forty minutes from Sequoia National Park on a slow day, in the fertile foothills. My blogging friend, Russel Ray, inspired me about weeding today. Someone posted a comment, “Don’t use Roundup.” So here’s my question for you. Which do you prefer spraying or digging?
I’m weird, I love to dig out weeds. Today I put on my knee pads, got my trowel, and had a funeral for a bucket full of crabgrass roots then drove fertilizer spikes into any remaining villains’ hearts around our peach trees. Trust me, someone buried cement under the inch of topsoil. Around here we call it hardpan.
Here are some of our weeds. It’s Super Bloom year. (I didn’t dig these out today. LOL, most of the weeds I dug were crabgrass!) P.S. Porsche, the cat, loves to weed. I have to wear gloves to protect me from his claws. I accidentally stepped on his tail yesterday, so he gave me some space today.
This Saturday our Kiwanis Group will clean out the Woodlake Rose Garden. We weed or trim officially once a month. Weeds love it here. Here is what we had last fall. If you live in or around Woodlake, come join us. The pay –you feel so good when you’re done! High levels of serotonin free of charge.
Now the weeds are green and luscious. You can see that everyone working hard together has paid off, but there are some robust weeds in the background and across the parking lot. So I can’t wait to attack them!
Our dream is to restore the garden to its former beauty.
Hope you all have a happy weekend. If you want to help us on Saturday, drop by the Woodlake Rose Garden between 8 and 11 on Saturday morning – March 23, 2019.
If you go to Victoria, you HAVE to take the hour and a half train from Melbourne and visit Ballarat.
The hurried bustle of Melbourne changed in minutes once we left the station.
Soon the brown landscape reminded me of the Central Valley of California, where I live. Not much changed during the hour trip, and it sped by so quickly you would not have enjoyed the picture.
Ballarat or Bust
Yes, the 1850 Australian Gold Rush happened in Ballarat. We approached the golden gates at lunch time so our hostesses, Carol’s sister-in-law and niece, took us to lunch at Pipers by the Lake.
Manny, my traveling bear, always says, “I’m never hungry, but I can always eat.”
Notice he liked pasta. I chose pumpkin soup. Australian pumpkin anything is fabulous, and Pipers did not disappoint. In retrospect, I probably should not have opted for the hot soup. The afternoon temperatures soared into the late nineties.
After lunch, I was ready for a nap, but these energetic, climate-time-adjusted women got Manny and me up and on our feet. Weather of almost any kind melts me, but the beauty surrounding the restaurant spurred me on.
After some quick photo ops on the Lily Bridge decorating Lake Wendouree, donned in my Stabilisation Shoes (spelled the Australia way, pronounced stable-I-ZA‘-shun), I was primed for a long walk.
I longed for air conditioning. Instead, we walked down the block a bit and along Lake Wendouree. There really are black swans, so, in spite of the heat, I began to catch their enthusiasm.
Soon we crossed the western side of the street to the City of Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Rated #2 of 73 things to do by Trip Advisor, my guides Mandy, Katie, and Carol could not have made a better choice of introduction to Ballarat for me.
It’s only a few minutes’ drive from the Central Business District of Ballarat, abbreviated as CBD, to find Pipers and the Gardens. BTW, when you visit Australia, realize that you also have to know all the acronyms and nicknames for common words.
The Gardens are divided into three zones. We spent most of our time in the central Botanical Gardens, which you will see when you scroll down. One Australian website referred to the central area as a Victorian pleasure garden.
On either side of the park entrance, there are open parkland buffers known as the North and South Gardens. On this summer day, families and lovers lounged on the cool grass under the shade trees.
The pair of marble lions situated just inside the gates began guarding the entrance to the garden in 1893.
The Gardens celebrated its sesquicentenary (150 years old) in 2007.
The South Gardens
Practically every Australian park I toured honored their soldiers in some way. The Ballarat Gardens feature Australia’s Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial, designed by local artist Peter Blizzard. Opened in 2004, the 130-meter long granite wall has the names of 35,000 Australian Prisoners of War etched into it, 8,600 of whom died and are buried on foreign soil.
Teacher, Carol determined that I would LEARN everything about Australia during this trip. She took it easy on me right after lunch as we strolled along the moving POW memorial. I guess she hadn’t learned about all 35,000 names either.
However, when we marched down Prime Minister Lane, it was a different story. Carol told me about the first, the best, and the worst Prime Ministers.
Here are some Wiki-facts to test your memory for the quiz at the end of this post. Prime Ministers Avenue is set within Horse Chestnut Avenue. Alfred Deakin founded the Federation of Australia Deakin and served as the first Federal Member for Ballarat and the second Prime Minister.
I tried as hard as I could to memorize all the names, faces and fun facts as she enthusiastically told me about each one. TC History Gal should be good at this, right?
The flat pathway through the shade of beautiful trees on a quiet afternoon caused me to zone out. I enjoyed the experience of being in a new place with hospitable people. Conversations buzzed around me like busy mosquitoes. Speaking of mosquitoes, the tiny insects may have had their way with this Prime Minister.
Maybe it was because their names were etched in gold, too light to read. It certainly was not the hot pumpkin soup. Needless to say, Carol may have struck out on this teaching venture. The good news is that if you want to know the Australian Prime Ministers, they are listed here.
We reached the end of the Prime Minister tunnel to emerge into bright daylight. Directly in front of us was the Horticultural Center.
The Center Zone
Opened in 1995, Bob Clark donated two million dollars to build the Conservatory to honor his Grandfather Robert Clark – co-founder of The Courier newspaper.
As we got closer to the Gardens, we approached a walking roundabout filled with succulents. What kind? There are only six, types I just learned. I don’t think Mandy was trying to smell them, she was reading the sign to answer my question. Knowing my memory, I don’t know why I bothered asking. I could have taken a picture of the sign, but I did not.
Roundabouts are in vogue in California. Woodlake City Manager told me that if a town wants to get a grant, it has to agree to put in a roundabout. One town near us doubled up and put two roundabouts in one intersection. What a nightmare! If you turn too soon, you could end up going the wrong way on the freeway.
To the north of the roundabout stood the heritage statuary pavilion. This historic-looking building housed the Stoddart Statue collection. The group of statues consists of 12 white marble figures from Italy donated by Thomas Stoddart in 1884.
Vandals exist even in Australia, and they damaged the statues. So after nearly 120 years of roaming free in the 99-acre park, the figures crowded into to this pavilion home in 2002.
Rebekah flirted with us while trying to keep fresh in her hot summer garb. I sympathized. It felt warm enough to me to wear different clothes. Maybe not that open, though!
Modesty stood serenely behind her glazed window. She allowed us to glimpse her beauty beneath her sheer drapes. Judging by her straight, slim toes, she was pretty foxy in her day. But she did not look like she had much of a sense of humor.
On the day we visited, workers at the Horticulture Center prepared the facility for a weekend event. They gladly stopped shoveling and sweeping to chat. Mandy asked lots of questions.
I clicked my shutter at almost every hanging pot in the humid garden. Where were the water-misters? What about benches? I needed a bath!
Mandy and Carol both know the names of all these Victorian beauties, and I have the gorgeous pictures. Carol has access to this website. Maybe she will fill in the names for me. Do you know how long it takes to find a plant, even online, only from how it looks? Let me just say that I started this post about two months ago.
My advice for bloggers is to buy a book with pictures of local plants so that you don’t look like an idiot when you write about them. You might not be so fortunate to have workers that stop what they are doing to tell you what each plant is.
This looks like the perfect wedding picture. It would make a beautiful card or invitation with the color combinations and delicate shapes of the plants.
Yellow, pink, blue, and white. All the colors from purples to and red-hot had representation in this conservatory.
I read that the remains of a zoo dot the North Gardens. Either we did not visit that, or I fell asleep under a tree, and a lion ate me.
Link to This Post!
If you have been to Ballarat and have written a post about it, feel free to link an article in the comment section. I don’t know about other readers, but I’ll check it out!
Woodlake, CA is the land within the magic circle, a protected valley surrounded by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Running P Ranch in Elderwood hosts weddings in a setting of flowering amaryllis.
According to experts, amaryllis is the easiest of flowering bulbs to make bloom. Indoors or out, and they flower from late December until the end of June. In early May amaryllis plants flaunt their beauty.
My friend Katherine Traugar respects people who know the name of plants, so this tidbit is for you, my friend. The amaryllis bears the botanical name Hippeastrum. These flowers make showy Christmas gifts, but outside in a natural setting, they stand out among other spring beauties.
Nestled against the western fence in this wedding setting, they rival the bride’s glowing beauty. The flamboyant blooms make amaryllis popular and in demand worldwide. Besides various shades of red and salmon as seen in Elderwood, they also come in white, pink, and orange as well as striped and multicolored varieties.
Prepare to Plant
If you want to plant these South American flowers, first place the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. To store them keep the bulbs at a temperature between 40-50 degrees F if you can’t plant them right away. But keep them away from apples.
Plant the bulb up to its neck in a nutritious potting compost, taking care not to damage the roots. Firmly tamp down the soil after planting.
Amaryllis plants flower seven to ten weeks after planting. Plant bulbs every two weeks to achieve continuous bloom.
These two brave vets, Angelica Cabrera & Angel Gomez, came back to Woodlake to start their new franchise business, Goin’ Postal.
Today they cut the ribbon, and made the grand opening official.
The office is beautiful and clean inside, and they will offer a variety of useful services. Since Woodlake is 20 miles from the larger town, Visalia, it will save residents a lot of time if they want to use Fed X or other services.
The new business will also have computers available for people to use, if they need a place to do business.
Angie and Angel offer notary and immigration services as well.
With support of two Chambers of Commerce Angie and Angel hope business will be booming for the holiday season.
Chambers of Commerce welcome the new business.
And finally, they cut the ribbon. Goin Postal has gone public.
Pretend that you’ve never been to Woodlake, CA. Never even heard of it.
But you want to fly somewhere and have a fantastic breakfast.
You go online. Search for airport cafes. And VOILÁ! There it is!
Frank Holbert from Corona, CA is just like you. He had never heard of Woodlake, CA. Decided to come.
That was in 2008 before it became “THE” pilot’s place to have breakfast and lunch.
I wish I could fly. I don’t.
On Sunday my husband and I drove to the Runway Cafe just south of Woodlake at the Airport right after church. We did not beat the crowd.
It did not matter. Charlotte caught my eye over the crowd milling around the cashier’s stand, “Just two today, Marsha? Gottcha!”
We headed outside and sat at one of the empty picnic tables. Normally we sit out there, but the temperature on Sunday headed towards 108, and HE wanted to sit inside. While we waited we chatted with another couple and pet their large golden retriever.
“I’ve got a Beggin’ Strip for Annie,” Charlotte told them. Annie sniffed around the wood floor for other treats while she waited and we talked.
We did not know the couple before we arrived. They lived in Visalia and came often out to the Runway on the weekends. Like us, they enjoyed the excitement of watching planes and helicopters land.
Runway Cafe is Woodlake City property. In 2014 when Butch Reed and Charlotte Scott decided to look into leasing it, they had six competitors.
But they got it, and the locals were thrilled. Let the good food roll!
One customer said, “It’s a shame! Such good food we pig out!”
Another laughed, “The food was great! Now, we’ve got to find a couch!”
So who comes here, you ask?
Charlotte said, “We get about 15 pilots on Fridays and Saturdays, 10-25 on Sundays, and a total of about 10 during the rest of the week.”
That’s it? Just pilots?
Butch chimes in, “I’m in the hot rod and bike business. I build bikes from scratch. Bikers know me. We get lots of bikers and hot rod guys. For example, the Five of Diamonds Motor Cycle Club of Tulare. They just had a Run and raised $15,000-$18,000. We like to help out.”
Charlotte’s eyes teared as she looked at me.
She said, “I just want everyone in Woodlake to know how much we appreciate them. We are just so grateful”
A large party at the two tables behind us got up to leave. Charlotte stopped our interview briefly to give each person a hug and thank them for coming in.
Butch had a larger vision of “locals” than just Woodlake.
“People drive in from Visalia, Hanford, Porterville, Bakersfield, Reedley – all over. There’s a picture over there in the corner of a couple from Germany. They’ve been here several times.”
I don’t think the German couple is local even if they’ve been here more than once!
Pictures line the walls. Most are of guests who come by plane. One morning when my husband and I came for breakfast Charlotte wanted her picture taken with the pilot and crew. Volunteering to hold the camera, I rushed out with the crew to take the pictures. Charlotte was so busy, she never made it to the picture.
The pilot offered to fly me to Visalia with them. Breakfast was waiting for me. Should I stay or should I go?
I hadn’t said anything to my husband about going. I would miss my great breakfast.
I wished them well and ran back to eat my delicious breakfast.
Butch is so grateful to have the Cafe and the opportunity to serve coffee that he drives to Runway Café at 4:30 AM and works until 7:00 AM. Then he goes back to his Transmission Shop in Visalia and works there. Retirement is not in his vocabulary. Workaholic is.
“I went into partnership with Charlotte because she is the hardest working woman I know. And she’s honest.”
She’s the friendliest person I know. Everyone else follows her example.
Runway Cafe started 40 years ago as Woodlake Outpost Cafe under the ownership of Velma Dearmore. Dora, who owns Dora’s restaurant in Woodlake, had it for a while then Sherry Foreman from the Exeter Whistle Shop ran it after that. It sat empty for a few months. Finally, Butch and Charlotte started running it December 20, 2014. Yelp has given them a 5-star rating, in case you are wondering.
Charlotte said, “We are a team. Owners in other places I’ve worked asked the workers to do things they wouldn’t do. We don’t do that here. I’ve cleaned the grease trap, bathrooms, mopped, swept,, washed dishes, cooked – not as good as Brandon Edmonds, Steve Ferris and Ricardo Bonilla, but I do it. And yes, they are all local.”
Kelly Mittel, one of the waitresses who used to work with Charlotte and her daughter, Charnae Edmonds, left there and came to work at the Runway Cafe. She never regretted her decision.
Kelly said, “You can be yourself here. No uniform. It’s like family here.”
Runway Café supports the community in many ways. Of course, they donate to many causes. Since there is so much foot traffic, it is a favorite place to hang banners and flyers for community activities. They sell the book I wrote, Images of America Woodlake, the proceeds of which go to the Woodlake High School Foundation.
But mostly, they serve good food in huge portions for about $9.00 on average.
“It makes me happy to know that I’ve done something for Woodlake. I’ve helped it to become better known.” Butch said.
In addition to the regular German couple, people from as far away as New Zealand, and Australia have found their way to Runway Cafe for their delicious specials: fish and chips on Fridays, taco salad on Wednesday, and chile verde on Sundays. Other customer favorites include chicken fried steak, sausage patties, and omelets. I like their peach cobbler. Go figure!