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UW Botanic Gardens Newsletter, Vol 7 Issue 8, August 2012

Volunteer to Become an Azalea Way Garden Steward

azalea way [archive]The Arboretum Foundation, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the UW Botanic Gardens are launching a new volunteer initiative to help maintain Azalea Way, an historic component of Washington Park Arboretum's original Olmsted design. Flanked by a spectacular array of azaleas, rhododendrons, and other flowering shrubs and trees, Azalea Way runs for about two thirds of a mile from the Graham Visitors Center to the Japanese Garden and is one of the Arboretum’s most popular and enduring attractions.

The new Azalea Way Garden Stewards program is modeled on the Pacific Connections Gardens Stewards. The Azalea Way Garden Stewards will provide volunteer support to salaried Arboretum staff in caring for Azalea Way. The work will consist primarily of weeding, mulching, edging with hand tools and planting native ground covers. Stewards will receive special training from Arboretum staff and benefit from enrichment activities such as lectures and tours. The inaugural work party happened on August 7, but you can join the next work parties on Tuesday, September 4 and Saturday, September 29.

The UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences Has a New Director

thomas delucaThe UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, of which UW Botanic Gardens is part, has a new director. Thomas H. DeLuca, a soils and ecosystem scientist who studies natural resources sustainability, starts September 1 according to a UW press release. Responsibilities in his current position at Bangor University, Wales, includes serving as academic advocate for the Treborth Botanic Garden, a teaching garden that is open to the public.

Enter the Arboretum Digital Photo Contest For Kids!

photo contestHey, kids, get out your digital cameras! If you are between 4 and 16, visit
the Arboretum, take some awesome pictures and send them to us by August 31. We’ll announce winners and prizes by September 5. You retain ownership of your work, but by entering this contest, you give UWBG rights to use your work on it’s website and in promotional materials. Upload your photo entries to our Flickr site. And for a little inspiration, head to the UWBG website to see some recent pictures snapped by Art in the Park Campers.

A Glimpse Into the Past

Japanese Garden Construction

(A monthly column by Dr. John A. Wott, Director Emeritus)
The Japanese Garden was constructed on a site which originally housed an elaborate barn used for horse racing on what is now known as Azalea Way. It was also placed over the original course of Arboretum Creek, which at one time drained the Madison Valley south of Madison Street. Various donors working through Unit 86 of the Arboretum Foundation provided funding and designers came from Japan to create this garden. The pond was constructed, large boulders were secured and placed, and many plants came out of the Arboretum collections. This photo shows work on March 4, 1960. Note the type of equipment being used.   (Photo from UWBG Archives).

Make sure to take a look at the full sized photo.

August 2012 Plant Profile: Magnolia grandiflora (dwarf cultivars)

(by Soest Gardener Riz Reyes) The bold presence of the Evergreen Southern Magnolia is truly a sight to behold in late summer as its creamy white blossoms unfurl, emitting a sweet and pleasantly pungent aroma that fills the warm air. One of the problems, however, is its eventual size. Most of the readily available cultivars will easily get too large for a small urban garden, but there are a handful of selections that stay at a reasonable height, yet still provide the exquisite deep green glossy foliage, russet brown undersides and, of course, the ethereal summer blooms.

magnolia 1The flower photographed here is one we have at CUH called ‘Baby Doll’. Unfortunately, it’s not readily available in the trade, but it possesses a wonderful mounded compact habit for a small tree. It stands about 10 feet tall and about 15 feet wide in canopy.

More commonly available in the trade is ‘Little Gem’, a handsome but sometimes overused selection. This still gets to be quite large when fully mature at 20-25 feet high, but this is much smaller than the standard selections. A little newer on the market are the promising ‘Teddy Bear’ and ‘Baby Grand’. Wonderful russet undersides are very prominent in ‘Teddy Bear’, as if the densely leaved selection is calling to be embraced. It has rounder foliage and a tidy and fairly uniform habit. The newest selection is dubbed ‘Baby Grand’ which has proven to be a performer under less than ideal conditions. It has a wonderful short stature that makes it great for large container work and it seems to be a great bloomer even on a young, establishing plant.

Magnolia grandiflora could almost be a staple in almost every landscape/garden. The plant looks wonderful year 'round, adds a nice tropical feel to the Pacific Northwest landscapes and its fabulous flowers in August are an absolute treat!

The Miller Library is Implementing A New Integrated Library System

book stack stock photoIt looks like the days of stamping a lending card to check out a book are drawing to a close at the Miller Library. They are working to put a new Integrated Library System (ILS) in place. This will allow them to automate their circulation system. Library patrons will be able to access the catalog online to see if a book has been checked out, and if it is, when it’s due back. You’ll also be able to go online to place holds on a book or renew library materials. The system will also generate automatic reminders when a book is due. The library staff will be busy adding barcodes to materials over the summer and they hope to have the new ILS in place later this year.


You can sign up now for the next Park in the Dark on Saturday, August 25 at 8pm. Night time is special at the Arboretum – the people and cars are gone, and the nocturnal animals move about. These night hikes are a chance for children and families to explore their senses, search for crepuscular and nocturnal movements in the forest and learn about night-related animal adaptations. The UWBG website has more information.

In Japan, o-tsukimi or moon viewing festivals welcome the arrival of the full moon. The Japanese Garden has a moon viewing coming up on September 1. During the event, the garden is atmospherically lit with lanterns, luminaries and floating boats. You can purchase tickets for the viewing only or add on a tea ceremony.

A seven-part evening class on Botanical Drawing starts on September 18. Learn the basics of classical botanical watercolor painting, which will include techniques in measurement, drawing, and understanding how light reveals form, along with practice in color mixing. You can find out more and iris-r washingtonregister online.

If you haven't seen it yet, head by the Miller Library and take in Rosemary Washington's exhibit, a wonderful collection of her watercolor sketches. They will be on display though September 28. 

UWBG invites our friends and neighbors to join NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, to a work party to spiff up CUH. Projects include invasive plant removal, small construction projects, painting, planting and much more. The transformation starts at 7:30am on Saturday, September 15.

E-Flora is a regular online newsletter of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens

University of Washington Botanic Gardens' mission:
Sustaining managed to natural ecosystems and the human spirit through plant research, display, and education

3501 NE 41st Street, Box 354115, Seattle, WA 98195-4115
Phone: 206.543.8616

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