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UWBG Oral History

Oral History of Washington Park Arboretum, the Arboretum Foundation and the Center for Urban Horticulture

Graham Visitor Center

In 2010, a combined effort of many donors, led by John Wott, funded an oral history project, administered by the Miller Library. Carrie Bowman is supervising the project; Shelly Leavens was hired last November and spent the past ten months conducting research and interviewing people. People with long term associations with the Washington Park Arboretum, the Arboretum Foundation, and/or the Center for Urban Horticulture were invited to participate. Carrie, with the help of many others, looked for narrators who fulfilled multiple roles within these organizations, as well as seeking narrators from outside them.

The collection of interviews is an open door to our history. The intent of this phase of the project was to collect a variety of interviews, index them so that people can determine what was discussed, and organize them so that materials relevant to each interview are gathered in one place. Research materials, field notes, indexes, and narrator data sheets are all included with the interviews. This collection will remain in the Miller Library and will be available for public use. Read more about the project in an article by Carrie Bowman in the Fall 2011 issue of the Arboretum Bulletin.

The Narrators

Dick Brown photo
Dick Brown
Cyclamen purpurascens
Barbara Carman (photo of her favorite flower)
Dale Cole photo
Dale Cole
Nancy Davidson-Short photo
Nancy Davidson Short
Marion Docter
Marion Docter
Sylvia Duryee photo
Sylvia Duryee
Paul Gibson photo
Paul Gibson
Mrs Donald Graham hybrid Rhododendron photo
Donald Graham, Jr. (photo of hybrid Rhododendron 'Mrs. Donald Graham')
Jean Haigh
Jean Haigh
Barbara Harris photo
Barbara Harris
Donald Harris photo
Donald Harris
Grant Jones photo
Grant Jones
Art Kruckeberg photo
Art Kruckeberg
Elizabeth Moses photo
Elizabeth Moses
Lyn Sauter photo
Lyn Sauter
Carol Simmons photo
Carol Simons

Sheila Taft photo
Sheila Taft

Harold and Tish Tukey
Harold and Tish Tukey

Jean Witt
Jean Witt

John Wott photo
John Wott

Photo credits:
1. Barbara Carman - Cyclamen purpurascens from the CalPhotos Photo Database, © 2004 Dr. Amadej Trnkoczy 2. Donald Graham - Rhododendron 'Mrs. Donald Graham' (found in Rhododendron Portraits, D.M. van Gelderen and J.R.P. van Hoey Smith, 1992, Timber Press, p.231)

Merrill Hall photo

This project would not have been possible without the
generous support of many people, including

Arboretum Foundation
Steve and Peggy Garber
Emily Witt Kozie and Dan Kozie
Elizabeth Ayrault Moses and Allen Moses
Prof. and Mrs. H.B. Tukey
John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

We extend sincere appreciation to all of you and also to
Wendy Kelley

  1. Japanese Garden
    Arboretum Foundation board member Elizabeth Moses talks about the early development and design of the Japanese Garden in 1960.
  2. Lake Washington Boulevard
    Seattle Parks employee Don Harris talks about the Olmsted Brothers design of Lake Washington Boulevard.
  3. Brian O. Mulligan Sorbus Collection / Mountain Ashes
    Former Arboretum Director John Wott discusses how birds and insects interact with non-native versus native Arboretum plants, using the Mulligan Sorbus Collection as an example.
  4. Japanese Maples
    John Wott
    provides a glimpse into the different uses of the Arboretum and differing opinions about labeling the plants. He highlights the Witt Winter Garden and Japanese Maples as examples.
  5. Pinetum
    Seattle resident and activist Paul Gibson reflects on how the Montlake Neighborhood was altered by the early 1970s fight over the R.H. Thomson Expressway. He describes where a tract of houses was torn down to later become the Pinetum.
  6. Donald G. Graham Visitor's Center
    Carol Simons
    , the first female president of the Arboretum Foundation, explains the necessity of building a new Visitor's Center at the Arboretum in the early 1980s. She also describes the Foundation's relationship with the City Parks Department.
  7. Plant Donations Nursery
    Arboretum volunteer Barbara Harris describes how the plant donations nursery got started.
  8. Union Bay Natural Area
    Grant Jones
    , principal landscape architect of the Jones & Jones Architecture firm, discusses how he approached the design of the Union Bay Natural Area, explaining why it was an ideal place for academic research in urban horticulture.
  9. Center for Urban Horticulture
    Former CUH Director Harold Tukey describes why the Union Bay Natural Area became the site for the new Center for Urban Horticulture instead of the Arboretum.
  10. Miller Library
    Volunteer Lyn Sauter describes how Joe Witt convinced her to organize the Arboretum book collection, which eventually became the basis for the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.

Last modified:
Friday, 12-Dec-2014 11:17:58 PST