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UW Botanic Gardens Newsletter, Vol 8 Issue 1, January 2013

Don't Miss the Hobbit's Garden at the 2013 NW Flower and Garden Show

One of the most anticipated events of the horticultural calendar is The Northwest Flower and Garden Show. This year's event takes place on February 20-24 at the Washington State Convention Center. The Arboretum Foundation's display will be  "A Hobbit's New Zealand Garden: Middle-Earth meets the Arboretum's New Eco-Geographic Forest". All of the plant material is from the New Zealand Focal Forest highlighting the new forest and tying it to the show's theme of The Silver Screen Takes Root...Gardens Go Hollywood.

small nw flower show displayThe rendering on the right was done by Roger Williams, one of the creative design team. A hobbit's house will be constructed with boulders on either side of a round door. The trees across the back will likely be Phormium tenax. Clematis 'Avalanche' will be cascading from the top of the house. There will be a Phormium fen with a fog machine to add a bit of mystery and drama.

Volunteers will be needed to set up on February 16-18 and to act as docents during the event. Randall Hitchin will be coordinating the schedule for the volunteers and running the docent training session. For those interested in volunteering, he can be contacted at or 206-325-4510.

Visit our NWFGS Booth!

UWBG will be teaming up with the Seattle Parks Department to create a wonderful and educational booth. Be sure to stop by to say hello and learn about everything going on.

Graduate Student's Thesis Work Benefits Rare Plants

rare care research 2012(by Wendy Gibble; reprinted with permission from Rare Plant PressGraduate student Lauren “Ivy” Clark has been knee-deep in seeds ever since she started her Master’s work at University of Washington. She first came to work with Rare Care in 2009 to develop protocols for propagating ten shrub-steppe species from seed for a project Rare Care was working on with the Bureau of Land Management. Having developed an interest in germination ecology, Ivy also started working with Rare Care’s rare plant seed collection, conducting germination tests on collections held in the Miller Seed Vault. This ongoing work dovetails nicely with her thesis work, in which she explores the potential for hybridization between golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta) and harsh Indian paintbrush (Castilleja hispida).

Both Castilleja species occur on Puget Sound prairies, and hybridization has been observed in a nursery setting. Recent golden paintbrush reintroductions have resulted in both species growing in close proximity to one another at out-planting sites. After ascertaining that the same pollinator species frequent both species, Ivy collected seeds from both where they co-occur and is propagating them in the greenhouse. She will evaluate morphological features of the progeny to determine whether and to what extent hybridization is occurring at these reintroduction sites and whether the risk of hybridization is reduced by increasing the distance between neighboring individuals of the two species.

Ivy has had an interest in plants for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Texas, her interest in the natural world was nurtured by her parents. She’s held a variety of jobs since becoming a biologist, many of them restricting her to laboratories. Finding that she really enjoys being in the field, she hopes to use her skills and degree to work in the restoration ecology field. In the meantime, we are delighted to have her working on Rare Care projects and caring for our ex situ collection.

A Glimpse Into the Past

laying rocks woodland garden 1939

(A monthly column by Dr. John A. Wott, Director Emeritus)

 Much sweat and hard work went into the building of the Arboretum in the early days. This 1939 photo shows a crew of men moving, lowering, and setting some of the rocks into place for the Woodland Garden. The truck was used to bring the rocks in (origin of rocks currently unknown), then each rock was carefully winched down the slope. The crew had to hand dig the “holes” and then carefully and laboriously maneuver the rocks into place. This most certainly was a Works Progress Crew, but look at how they are dressed, with hats and even a tie (perhaps on the “boss”).  (Photo from UWBG Photo Archives.)  

Make certain you see the full sized photo, if only to get a better look at the guy in the tie.

January 2013 Plant Profile: Blechnum chilense

blechnum photoOnce so rare and only available through close-knit garden circles, this exquisite fern can now be purchased from several growers and specialty nurseries.

Our original plant growing here at the Center for Urban Horticulture came from the famed Elisabeth C. Miller. Over the years it has established into a prolific clump of thick, evergreen fronds that resemble the local name in its native Chile “costilla de vaca”, which literally translates to “cow’s ribs”.

It’s a robust, but slow growing fern compared to others, but it thrives in the same condition with adequate moisture and full to part shade with rich, but well drained soil with a lot of organic matter.

One caveat: although this incredible fern can easily easily survive temperatures just below freezing, a very hard frost will damage the tough fronds. Also, the plant can take its time waking back up from the base. It is best suited in a protected and sheltered location such as a deep woodland or in close proximity to a building or neighboring trees and shrubs.

Common Name: Chilean Hard Fern
Location: Fragrance Garden
Origin: Chile, Argentina
Exposure: Full to part shade
Height and spread: 2-3ft. tall x 5ft. wide


mouse_mittenThere are still some slots open for the UWBG Tour to Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, led by director Sarah Reichard. Registration closes on January 11, so act quickly!

Come to the Miller Library on Saturday, January 13 for the Winter Wildlife Story Program. For those who wonder where animals go when the weather gets frosty, these stories offer factual information as well as imaginative fun. After the stories, make a winter habitat tree picture. The tales include In the Snow: Who's Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George, The Mitten by Jan Brett and When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan. The program starts at 10:30am and is designed for children ages 3 to 8 and their families, but all are welcome.

The early registration ends January 23rd for the class WHAT THE CLUCK?! Making sense of keeping chickens in the home garden.

Are you looking to improve your skills as a botanical artist? Instructor Kathleen McKeehen is starting a weekly Botanical Drawing class on January 22. The pencil is an effective tool for producing beautiful botanical works, and skill in pencil rendering is also a good basis for ongoing study of botanical art in other media, such as watercolor. All levels are welcome; intermediate students can take on more advanced plant subjects. The whole series is $230 if you register by January 15.

Have you been to the Washington Park Arboretum to visit the Witt Winter Garden this season? Here is a lovely appreciation from Val Easton's Plant Talk website that should whet your appetite. You can visit the Arboretum every day from dawn to dusk.

The free Weekend Walks will start up again in January. The theme for the January Walks is Ancient Trees. Just show up at the Graham Visitors Center a little before 1pm. Dress appropriately for the weather and allow about an hour to an hour and a half.

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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