My First Free Weekend Walk

July 31st, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

This is the first in a series of blog posts we will be sharing from our summer communications volunteer, Saffrom Hepta-Gaub. Saffron is a sophomore at the Bush School in Seattle, Washington, and we are delighted to share her perspectives on UW Botanic Gardens’ spaces and programs. 

July 19th, 2015

Hydrangeas

On this lazy, hot, summer day, I embarked on my first event with the UW Botanic Gardens: the Free Weekend Walk. The great things about the tour are that it’s free, every Sunday, and open to all ages. The walking was brisk, and despite the heat, our guide Catherine kept us entertained. The theme of this day was Hydrangeas and Other Summer Bloomers. Themes like this switch every month to best fit the season.

Because I can’t drive, I was dropped off at the Graham Visitors Center, just before one o’clock. After inquiring at the desk, I waited until our guide came right on time, starting us out with a few introductory facts. I learned that the park was 230 acres, the majority of the land being owned by the city with the collections belonging to the Botanic Gardens. We were a group of twelve, including me, horticulturalists  and tourists alike. To begin, we circled around the parking lot, stopping by the greenhouse to see the large-leafed “dinosaur food” bog plant native to South America, with long, almost Pinecone-esque petalless  flowers. Behind the greenhouse was a gorgeous pomegranate tree, which, with the warm season we’ve been having, bore fruit.

After we looked at the various trees in the bright sun, we circled back around to the main path, which thankfully had patches of shade. It was 90 degrees out, mind you, and I had stupidly forgotten a water bottle. Our guide was good at keeping our minds off the heat, though my thirst for water preoccupied a third of my thoughts. The rest of my mind filtered through facts and phrases for this post, while another small section wanted to be binge watching my favorite show, though I shouldn’t mention that here, have to be professional. 😉

The tour, after all, was focused on the blooming hydrangeas, and the first one we accounted on the path was drooping from the drought. In fact, many of the plants we passed had brown, forgotten leaves. Facts from my 9th grade biology class kept popping up, an unplanned refresher in photosynthesis and the food web. The dead leaves on the underside of the trees were the plants’ way of conserving energy and water; leaves with less light had more energy going into growth than coming out of photosynthesis. We also spotted snag trees, dead plants that had become homes for insects, decomposers who feed off the bark. The insects attract hungry birds and bats, and soon you have full ecosystems on one dead tree.

Back to the hydrangeas: interesting tidbit, there are three kinds of hydrangeas: lace top, mop top, and the cone-shaped paniculatas. The flowerettes around the base of the lace top, when lifted up, are a signal to the bees that pollination should occur, and drop once there is nectar. Nature is amazing!

Next in our walk up the shadow scattered hill were the magnolias. Yet another thing that I learned was that because magnolias, evolutionarily, predate bees; the flowers are shaped and hang in a way so that they can be pollinated by ants and beetles. The magnolias have a nice citrus smell, and because of the unusual heat, many of the trees we passed were on there second bloom of the season, which our guide had never seen before. The magnolias also provided a much needed shade. Another tree we saw was the sassafras tree, the origin of root beer. The cool thing about the sassafras  tree was that was only one of two trees with the three kinds of leaf shapes: mitten, flame, and ghost. Seeing all the differently shaped leaves on this tree and the other species we passed was strange and interesting.

Magnolia

Finally, we got to the large collection of hydrangeas. There were many beautiful bushes, colored blue and white. Catherine informed us that these hydrangeas did in fact change color based on the PH of the soil. We also spotted a hydrangea that grew vine-like on a tree, but in a safe way. By now, it was time to turn back, and we headed on a gravel path through the forest, where it was shady and cool. The final fascinating fact I learned was that many of the magnolias and other “tropical” plants that thrive in the southeast United States are related to the plants of Asia, an offshoot from back when the land was all one continent.

All in all it was a great way to spend my afternoon. Our guide Catherine made it entertaining, educational, and we got in some exercise! All three e’s! The Botanic Gardens have my interest, and I am sure they will have yours if you take the chance to visit. The Arboretum is beautiful, the paths are easy to use, and with these guided tours, navigating and fact-learning is easier. I’d highly recommend it. :)

 

July Color Appears at the Center for Urban Horticulture

July 25th, 2015 by UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson

Featuring a Selection of Trees at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Selected cuttings from the Center for Urban Horticulture (July 20, 2015 - August 2, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Center for Urban Horticulture (July 20, 2015 – August 2, 2015)

1)  Acer japonicum  ‘Aconitifolium’                         Fern Leaf Maple

  • Grove of six located in McVay Courtyard
  • Planted in 1986, original design element for McVay Courtyard
  • Beautiful leaf texture with extraordinary fall color
  • The most iconic tree at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH)

2)  Cedrus deodara             Deodar Cedar

  • Two mature specimens located at northeastern entrance to Event Lawn (x from Greenhouse)
  • The only conifers remaining from pre-CUH development
  • Probably planted post-war years (1950s) for UW married student housing

3)  x Chitalpa tashkentensis  ‘Morning Cloud’                                                                           Morning Cloud Chitalpa

  • An inter-generic cross between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis
  • A hardy drought tolerant tree currently in flower, hence its cultivar namesake
  • Several specimens located in bed along NE 41st Street, west entrance to CUH.

4)  Lagerstroemia indica             Crape Myrtle

  • This amazingly resilient and adaptable tree has had three homes in its lifespan.
  • Planted in 1963 around the original Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) buildings,
  • Then moved in 1984 to the WPA Mediterranean beds.
  • Moved to its current resting spot at CUH, south side of Isaacson Hall in 1990.

5)  Juniperus scopulorum             Rocky Mountain Juniper

  • Cuttings would not be complete without featuring a Pacific Northwest native tree at CUH.
  • OK, so it’s not found in the Puget Sound area, but its range does include parts of eastern Washington.
  • This upright specimen can be found anchoring the southeastern corner of the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden.

Pest and Disease Control for your Fruits and Veggies!

July 24th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
Knowing your soil is one of the first steps to  a healthy garden

Knowing your soil is one of the first steps to a healthy garden

Growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs can be a satisfying treat! But seeing your prize tomato or carrot with a rotten spot or a bite taken out of it can be a heartbreaker. How can you prevent pests and diseases in your edible garden, and do so in a safe, responsible manner? Join us and learn about Natural Pest and Disease Control for Edibles in this 3 hour class taught by Emily Bishton of Green Light Gardening.

We’ll talk about choosing the right site, soil fertility, variety and crop selection, and even how to attract beneficials to your garden. And if things get too bad and you need to bring out the heavy artillery, we’ll also discuss non-toxic and least toxic products you can use with peace of mind.

WHAT: Natural Pest and Disease Control for Edibles class
WHEN Saturday, August 1, 2015, 9am – 12pm
WHERE UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, Douglas Classroom, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105

WHO: Home Gardeners, Community Gardeners, Patio Gardeners!
COST: $30
Register Online, or call 206-685-8033

You might need some help protecting your veggies

You might need some help protecting your edible crops…

Cuba, I Just Can’t Quit You

July 21st, 2015 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director

Cuba imageIn 2011 I found out that it was possible to get permits from the federal government to take study tours to Cuba. Given my long-standing interest in that country, I was in the first wave to apply for, and receive one of these licenses, leading the first tour in February 2012. That first trip was an amazing experience – we were among the first large wave of American tourists and the Cuban people could not have been happier to have seen us. They have been through such incredibly hard times, such as the “Special Period” but they are resilient. Those famed old cars are wonderful to see roaming the streets, but they were of necessity – money and availability of newer cars was simply not there. Their famed organic agriculture system started during the Special Period when food and fertilizers were unavailable following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They continued to find ways to not only survive, but to find joy in music and family.

photo

A typical scene Havana of a vintage car and vintage building.

And the natural history! The birds there are amazing and so many are only found in Cuba! They include (and we saw all of these on the trips) the Cuban pygmy owl (smallest owl in the world), Cuban bee hummingbird (smallest hummingbird in the world), Cuban trogan (the national bird because it has the same colors as their flag), and my favorite, the Cuban tody. The plants include many endemics, including a very rare cycad, which we will see, and many species of orchids.

Beautiful Viñales Valley

Beautiful Viñales Valley

And then there is Viñales. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I have been there on sunny days and pouring rain and it never loses its ethereal beauty. The limestone mogotes rise from the valley floor, cloaked in tropical foliage, while the valley grows a variety of crops, including tobacco for the famous Cuban cigars.

photo

A tobacco farmer in Viñales, looking straight out of Central Casting!

I loved it so much that first year, that I took groups back in 2013 and 2014. It has been fascinating to go each year and see the changes that the government is slowly implementing. People can own property, start businesses, and there is some greater freedom to travel outside of Cuba. After taking 2015 off to visit Costa Rica instead, I am now happy to announce that UWBG is going to Cuba in 2016! Given the announcements this week of our opening embassies in each other’s countries, it will be an exciting time to visit. So join me on this trip to Cuba in this very historic time! It will be unforgettable!

Dates: February 20 – March 3, 2016
Cost: $3,910 plus $300 donation to UW Botanic Gardens
Detailed Itinerary

Art Exhibit: Lake, Lattice, Stone: Requiem for a Garden by Lollie Groth July 23 – September 3

July 17th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Lake, Lattice, Stone: Requiem for a Garden seeks to celebrate the artist’s mother’s northwest garden as well as the neighborhood of Union Bay and the marsh she grew up on, and walked past on her way to classes at the UW in the early nineteen forties. Through image and text, through monotype and artifact, journal entries and poems, a celebration of a garden’s life takes form. Lollie (Lali) Groth is a printmaker and mixed media artist who has shown extensively in Hawaii. In 2009 she received the John Young Award for Excellence in Monotype from Honolulu Printmakers. Currently, she lives on Vashon Island and works out of the studio at Quartermaster Press.

Please join us for the artist’s reception on Thursday July 23rd from 5:00 to 7:00pm in the Miller Library.

Summer Blooms and More

July 16th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
lagerstroemia indica muskogee_2917

Lagerstroemia ‘Muskogee’ – the Muskogee crapemyrtle

Summer can be a surprisingly quiet time in the garden, especially after the explosion that is spring in the Northwest.  In this 4 hour course, learn plants that bring out their best in the summer, and can survive our dry season looking fabulous. We will look at some of the lesser-known and underutilized summer interest plants in person, including bottlebrush, pineapple broom, sweetspire, chaste tree, and clethra.

In addition to identification, we will also look at bloom characteristics, foliage types, landscape functions, care and pruning tips for long-term healthy plants. We’ll also cover drought stress, given our lack of rain this year.

Professional credits include ISA, CPH, ecoPRO, ASCA and PLANET, but you don’t have to be a professional to register. Plant nerds and homeowners are welcome!

Sorbus_ursinaQ_548-90A_8-17-06_044_sj

It’s not all about flowers! Sorbus himalaica has beautiful pale berries in the summer.

Learn about this hardy group of plants with instructor Chris Pfeiffer, a horticulture consultant, instructor and garden writer with over 30 years’ experience in landscape management and arboriculture. Sustainable and efficient landscape techniques are a special area of interest and expertise. In addition to her private practice, she is a consulting associate with Urban Forestry Services, Inc. and an active volunteer with local community garden projects. She previously led landscape management efforts for the Holden Arboretum and Washington Park Arboretum. A frequent horticultural speaker, Christina has taught courses in pruning, arboriculture, and landscape management at Edmonds and South Seattle Community Colleges, and at the University of Washington. She holds degrees in horticulture from Michigan State and the University of Washington and is an ISA Certified Arborist. She is co-author with Mary Robson of Month-by-Month Gardening in Washington & Oregon (Cool Springs Press 2006).

Class information:

What: Arboretum Plant Study: Seasonal Plant ID and Culture – Summer Session

When: Thursday, July 23rd, 8am-12pm

Who: Landscape professionals, homeowners, gardeners, plant enthusiasts

Where: UW Botanic Gardens – Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr E, Seattle)

Cost: $65; increases to $75 one week before the class

Register: Online, or by phone (206-685-8033)

quercus robur concordia_20

Quercus robur ‘Concordia’ – that golden green color is amazing!

Big Big Flowers

July 16th, 2015 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

maggrandifloraflwrThe Magnolia grandifloras in our collection are blooming now!  Who doesn’t love a 12-inch wide flower that smells great?   The commonly named Southern Magnolia or Bull-Bay is native to the SE United States from Eastern Texas, along the lower Gulf Coast to the Atlantic where it grows in loamy soils near water.  It has proven to be very adaptable to different soils and this has allowed for its ability to be cultivated in many different climates.  The largest M. grandifloras in their native habitat have been measured at up to 125′.  In non-native climate gardens they tend to grow to about 80′.

This tree is a valued ornamental in gardens around the world because of its large flowers and dark green glossy evergreen leaves.  It is used industrially for its beautiful hardwood to make furniture and cabinetry.  The seeds are food for native southeast squirrels, possums, quail and turkeys.  The leaves, fruit, bark and wood also are valued for their pharmaceutical properties.

Our collection M. grandifloras are located on either side of Arboretum Drive in the Magnolia section of the arboretum.   These trees are quite large and most of its flowers are high up, but there are a few on the lower branches accessible for smelling that nice citrusy scent.  Tour visitors from the Southern US assure me that this scent can be smelled at a distance down there, but up here in the Pacific NW one has to get up close to enjoy the scent.  And, speaking of tours, these trees and other summer bloomers like the Hydrangea are featured in our Free Weekend Walks for the month of July.  Join us any Sunday; we meet at 1:00 pm at the Graham Visitors Center.

 

 

Glimpse into the past – Dreams of an Arboretum at the University of Washington

July 15th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Recently, I was browsing The Long Road Traveled by Henry Schmitz, from 1973, in preparation for a presentation about the Washington Park Arboretum.  I believe it is important to review how the leadership of the University of Washington was the catalyst to create the Arboretum. Almost all of this “glimpse” is the writing of Dr. Schmitz, but in a very condensed form.

The University of Washington seems to have wanted an arboretum from very early in its history. Shortly after his election in 1891 as a member of the State legislature, Edmond S. Meany became chairman of the legislative committee concerned with the acquisition of a new campus for the University. There are indications that he promoted the project in part by claims that it would provide an arboretum for the State as well as a campus for the University. If this is true, it was undoubtedly a method to elicit support from the lumber industry, which was not entirely without influence at that time in the state legislature. The late Herbert Condon used to relate a delightful story about a member of the legislature whom Mr. Meany was attempting to interest in the selection of the Union Bay area for the new campus-arboretum. The legislator listened to the arguments and then said, “Meany, I will help you get the area, but tell me-what in hell is an arboretum?”

Professor Edmond S. Meany

Professor Edmond S. Meany

It seems clear that for some years after the University moved to the new (and present) location selected by Dr. Meany’s committee, the development of an arboretum on the campus remained an important aim. The text calls attention to gifts of trees from the Seattle City Parks Department for planting on the new grounds.  On Arbor Day 1898, the Parks Department had presented the University with fifty assorted oaks and honey locusts. Later, Parks contributed an additional 2200 fine trees embracing almost thirty species new to the grounds, as well as a donation of a thousand perennials. These donations, along with a collection of five hundred more perennials from other sources gave impetus to a plan for the beautification of the campus.  These donations were said to “represent 42 natural orders and 179 species.”

A seed and plant exchange with eastern collectors was established by Dr. Meany to secure for the campus “as many rare and desirable species as possible.” Contributions of seeds were received from California, the Canadian Department of Agriculture, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Dr. Meany’s home garden was used entirely for growing seedlings of tree seeds received through the seed exchange. Since the city water mains had not yet been extended to his home, it was necessary for him to carry water in pails to the nursery beds. He was especially proud of the relations he had established with Kew Gardens and was greatly concerned that the seedlings survive.

College of Forestry Dean, Hugo Winkenwerder

College of Forestry Dean, Hugo Winkenwerder

Sadly, when the campus was cleared for the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, many of the trees planted in the early days by Professor Meany and others were destroyed. Nevertheless, the idea of an arboretum on the campus did not completely die. A few years later, Hugo Winkenwerder, Dean of the College of Forestry, with the enthusiastic support of Professor Meany, proposed to President Franklin Kane that the entire area below the railroad tracks be set aside for arboretum purposes. This proposal was approved by the President and the area was designated “Arboretum” on maps of the campus of that period.Progress was slow, and as the years went by, pressures developed on the campus for the construction of a golf course in the arboretum area. It was argued by the proponents of the golf course that the area could serve both purposes – the fairways and greens would occupy only part of the space and the remaining area could still serve as an arboretum. However, the golf course eventually took possession of the entire area and in late 1923 Dean Winkenwerder gloomily said that he “lost all hope of ever developing an arboretum on the University campus.”

Henry Suzzallo, UW President 1915-1926

UW President Henry Suzzallo

Although he recognized that an arboretum on campus was impractical because of the ever-changing patterns of land use by a growing university, Dean Winkenwerder did not for a moment give up the idea of developing an arboretum somewhere, and he conferred with President Henry Suzzallo to explore other possibilities. Even though it was President Suzzallo who had transformed the last campus arboretum into a golf course, he had a clear concept of the importance of a highly developed botanical garden and arboretum as a resource to the natural science departments of the University and to the people of Seattle and the State. He believed that the Arboretum should be developed jointly by the University and the City of Seattle.

Shortly after his conference with Dean Winkenwerder, Dr. Suzzallo addressed the Seattle Rotary Club to enlist the support of this important group of business and professional leaders for an arboretum in the Washington Park area. He said in part: “to the Board of Park Commissioners, that Board seems to have prepared Resolution No. 40 setting aside the entire area of Washington Park for a botanical garden and arboretum and giving the University of Washington certain privileges” (6th Day of February 1924).

Want to read the rest of the story? The Road Less Traveled is available for borrowing at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.

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July Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

July 12th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (July 6 - 20, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (July 6 – 20, 2015)

1)  Itea ilicifolia                Holly-leaved Sweet Spire

  • Native to western China
  • Evergreen shrub growing up to 16 feet tall and 10 feet wide
  • Bears fragrant racemes of greenish-white flowers in late summer and fall
  • Located west of the Magnolia Collection near the south end of the Asiatic Maples

2)  Lomatia myricoides                Long-leaf Lomatia

  • Native to New South Wales in southeastern Australia
  • One of the hardier members of the Proteaceae
  • Honey-scented white flowers are much visited by bees in summer
  • Located across Arboretum Drive from the New Zealand Focal Forest

3)  Pterocarya stenoptera                Chinese Wingnut

  • Native to China
  • Deciduous tree to 70 feet or greater, with a trunk diameter as large as 8 feet
  • Located west of Azalea Way, north of Loderi Valley

4)  Quercus vacciniifolia                Huckleberry Oak

  • Native to western North America, mountains of the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range
  • Leaves and acorns are an important food source for birds and mammals within its native range.
  • Located atop the rockery at the east end of the trail above the Gateway to Chile

5)  Rehderodendron macrocarpum                Mu gua hong

  • Native to Mt. Emei, Sichuan Province, China
  • Small deciduous tree 20 to 30 feet tall, related to Styrax
  • Located east of Azalea Way on the north end of the Rhododendron Hybrid bed

June Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum (Part II)

July 2nd, 2015 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (June 22 - July 5, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (June 22 – July 5, 2015)

1)  Quercus gilva                    Evergreen Oak

  • Native to China and Japan
  • Reaches heights of 90-100 feet in its native range
  • Located in the Oak Collection along the South Oaks Extension Trail

2)  Rhododendron calophytum           Beautiful-face Rhododendron

  • Native to China
  • Large species rhododendron capable of becoming a tree
  • Located along trail between Loderi Valley and the Woodland Garden

3)  Sequoia sempervirons  ‘Cantab’                     Coast Redwood

  • A cultivar of the coast redwood with unique needles
  • Specimens vary in form from shrubby to tree-like
  • Located in the north end of the Pinetum, along the Pinetum Trail

4)  Thujopsis dolobrata                    Hiba Arborvitae

  • A Japanese native
  • Capable of reaching 100 feet or more in Japan, yet large specimens are rare in the Seattle area
  • Located along the south slope of the Woodland Garden

5)  Viburnum rhytidophyllum                    Leatherleaf Viburnum

  • Native to China
  • Large evergreen shrub recorded to heights of 30 feet
  • Located along the trail through the Viburnum Collection