New digital collection created to complement UW Botanic Gardens Oral History

June 27th, 2016 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

graham visitor center at washingto park arboretumPatrons listening to the oral history narrators reminiscing about the Washington Park Arboretum might wonder what the heck they are talking about. Why was there a debate about the purpose of the Arboretum?

In an effort to give listeners historic context the Miller Library invited UW Information School grad student Katie Mayer to create a digital collection drawn from the Library’s archives. Last spring quarter, Katie  listened to a sample of the recordings, selected themes, and explored the archives of the Miller Library, UW Special Collections and the Miller Botanical Garden. In order to keep the project manageable, but also expandable, Katie developed criteria for which documents should be digitized. Finally, she selected the most useful reports, minutes, articles and correspondence, scanned the items and assigned metadata. Metadata (such as dates and descriptions) will help people decide which items they might want to read.

Now the Oral History Complementary Documents allow patrons to listen to narrations and then read the reports to learn the points of view of various decision makers and interested neighbors. Other documents give insight into the influential plants-woman Elisabeth Miller’s passion for public horticulture and her deep interest in plants.


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A UW report from 1972 proposing a shift toward a traditional botanic garden management system and away from a park model.

 

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A snippet of a plant list Betty Miller drafted to be considered for landscaping the McVay Courtyard from 1985

Glimpse into the past – Arboretum Club House

June 23rd, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Arboretum Club House, March 27, 1959

Arboretum Club House, March 27, 1959

In the early days of the Washington Park Arboretum, the Arboretum Club House and Floral Hall exhibit space was the venue for many flower shows, exhibits and functions.  It was the only facility where public functions could be held in the Arboretum.

 

Conifer Exhibit in the Floral Hall exhibit space, November 21, 1955

Conifer Exhibit in the Floral Hall exhibit space, November 21, 1955

On April 7, 1968, a fire was discovered at 7:00 a.m. in the Club House.  Vernon E. Kousky, a UW student walking through the Arboretum, reported it to Pablo Abellera, who lived in the foreman’s house (which currently houses the education offices).  They called the Safety Division on campus, which notified the Seattle Fire Department who had extinguished the fire by 7:50 a.m.

The entire south half of the building was gutted and the rest was badly scorched and charred.   It was not worth trying to repair the remainder.  Scorched books belonging to the Seattle Garden Club were removed by Mrs. Rex Palmer.  Crockery and cutlery belonging to the Arboretum Foundation were salvaged from the cupboards.

Fire debris, April 8, 1968

Fire debris, April 8, 1968

The UW Physical Plant removed the remainder of the building the following week.  The cause of the fire was apparently an electric motor used to drive a pump for the sewage system located under the SE corner of the building, where the fire apparently started.

Brick from the Club House fireplace, one day after the fire

Brick from the Club House fireplace, one day after the fire

The Summer 1970 issue of the Arboretum Bulletin contained a lengthy description of a plan to replace the Floral Hall complex, approved by the UW Board of Regents.  It would be a multi-use building complex providing office space, floral exhibit space, laboratories, an auditorium, a library, an herbarium, a visitor center, greenhouses and other supporting facilities.  The projected cost was $1,200,000.  Obviously this became mired in the politics of the day and never moved forward.   The current Graham Visitor’s Center was finally constructed in 1985, after approval in the earlier Jones and Jones Arboretum Plan.

Conceptual image of the proposed Floral Hall complex, 1970

Conceptual image of the proposed Floral Hall complex, 1970

 

 

 

Tour a Lavender Farm

June 7th, 2016 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Lavender2_woodinvillelavenderJoin Master Gardener Tom Frei for a talk and tour at the Woodinville Lavender Farm. Summer is the best time to view (and take in the scent) of lavender blooms!

Tom has been working with his wife and children to develop Woodinville Lavender since 2008. They are currently growing over 3000 plants and 25 varieties. Tom will discuss the history, botany, selection, care, and uses of lavender and lead us on a tour of the gardens. Lavender refreshments will be provided!

Afterwards, feel free to enjoy the gardens on your own, and don’t forget to stop in the shop where you can find all things lavender related!

What: Talk and Tour of Woodinville Lavender

When: Thursday, June 30, 1-2:30pm

Where: Woodinville Lavender, 14223 Woodinville Redmond Rd NW, Redmond, WA (about a 30 minute drive from Seattle)

Cost: $25/person

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

Photos Courtesy of Woodinville Lavender

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Tom, harvesting a bunch of lavender

The Wonderful World of Monocots

June 7th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist

Monocotyledons, commonly referred to as monocots, are flowering plants whose seeds typically contain only one embryonic leaf, or cotyledon.  A quarter of the world’s known plants are monocots. They are the most economically important group of plants to humans today in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fiber industries.  Here are a few samples of monocots in our plant collections.

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum or Center for Urban Horticulture (June 1 - 12, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum or Center for Urban Horticulture (June 1 – 12, 2016)

1)  Allium schubertii                                                                            (Ornamental Tumbleweed Onion)

  • Dried seed heads look like starry tumbleweeds or shooting star fireworks
  • Located in the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden, bed 6 at the Center for Urban Horticulture

2)  Austroderia richardii syn Cortedaria r.                     (Toetoe Grass, Plumed Tussock Grass)

  • Ornamental grass native to New Zealand
  • This “pampas” grass seems to be behaving itself in the Pacific Northwest, unlike others that do seed around and could be considered invasive.

3)  Phormium colensoi                (Mountain Flax, Wharariki)

  • One of two species in the genus Phormium; both are endemic to New Zealand.
  • Fiber from its broad, sword-like leaves, can be made into Maori baskets.

4)  Phyllostachys nigra                 (Black Bamboo)

  • Native to China, but widely cultivated elsewhere
  • Known for its ornamental beauty and prized for decorative woodworking
Close-up photo of fruit from a Chinese Windmill Palm tree

Close-up photo of fruit from a Chinese Windmill Palm

5)  Trachycarpus fortunei                (Chinese Windmill Palm)

  • Only palm that is reliably hardy to the Puget Sound area
  • Dioecious, with male and female flowers produced on separate trees
  • Sample of mature fruit cluster and frond

To locate specimens of these plants, please visit our interactive map:
http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/gardens/map.html.

Meet our Summer Camp Staff!

June 6th, 2016 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

StephanieAragonStephanie Aragon, Preschool Garden Guide

Stephanie is an Environmental Educator, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her background is in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, looking at how humans and the environment interact. When Stephanie is not leading summer camp, she presents engaging programs and experiences at the Woodland Park Zoo, focusing on environmental education and inspiring conservation action. During the school year she explores the natural world with students as a teacher at the Fiddleheads Forest School. Her interests spotlight education and community involvement, used as pillars to support healthy people, environments, and communities. She loves fresh berries, and the thrill that you feel when you positively identify something new for the first time. Stephanie approaches environmental education with a sense of wonder and excitement; she can’t wait to join you on adventures that foster our fundamental appreciation for the natural world.


 

RobynBoothby

 

Robyn Boothby, Garden Guide

Robyn has taught Environmental Education at IslandWood, an outdoor education center on Bainbridge Island, as well as Science at a high school in Texas. She is currently teaching at The Perkins School in North Seattle. She has a Masters of Education through the University of Washington and a BS in Engineering. When she is not teaching, Robyn enjoys reading until she is forced to go to bed, smelling flowers, lifting weights, and dancing around her room.

 

 


DaveGifford

 

 

Dave Gifford, Summer Camp Coordinator

Dave is thrilled to be returning for his third summer at the Arboretum. Dave has taught at a number of environmental education and school programs throughout Seattle including Islandwood and most recently Bryant Elementary. He holds a Master’s in Science Education from UW and a Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University. Dave loves hiking, mushroom-hunting, birding, and all the natural wonders of the Northwest.

 

 


Katy Jach, Garden GuideKatyJach

Katy has worked at both the Yakima and Seattle Arboretums and is very excited to be returning for her second summer here in Seattle!  She grew up east of the Cascades in Yakima, Washington. She enjoys hiking, rafting, swimming, and just about any activity where she can be outside! She will be graduating from the University of Washington this coming Fall with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a minor in Education. She was a Peer Teaching Assistant for a Natural History course within the Program on the Environment during the Spring and plans to become a teacher after she graduates.

 


 

MorganLawlessMorgan Lawless, Garden Guide

Born and raised in Syracuse, Morgan went to the University of New England in Southern Maine and stayed in New England several years after graduation. She has worked outdoor education through a program called Nature’s Classroom. Teaching outside is the reason she decided to go to Islandwood and get her Master’s in Education. She is excited about working at the Arboretum this summer! Morgan really enjoys spending time outside near any body of water.  She loves looking for creatures that live in the water. She also likes hiking and reading.

 


CaseyOKeefeCasey O’Keefe, Garden Guide

Casey is a Senior at University of Washington and studies ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. During the school year she is a garden guide for Saplings field trip programs, and this is her second year of summer camps at the arboretum. She previously taught summer camps at Pacific Science Center. Casey has experience volunteering with Mountains to Sound Greenway and does undergraduate research at a UW paleobiology lab. She is so excited to share her appreciation of nature and wildlife during camps this summer!

 


 

LiseRamaleyLise Ramaley, Preschool Garden Guide & Aftercare

Although she is a true Seattle native who adores the rain and never turns down a mountainous hike, Lise currently goes to St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Going into her junior year, Lise is studying Sociology, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies. She began doing trail work five years ago with the Student Conservation Association, which led her to a love for the outdoors and environmentalism, as well as an interest in understanding the ways in which we interact with nature. When she’s not exploring outside, Lise spends her time playing ultimate frisbee and jazz bass (not at the same time). She cannot wait to explore the Arboretum this summer and spread her excitement for the wonders of nature!


AnyaRifkinAnya Rifkin, Preschool Garden Guide

Anya has lived in Seattle for two years and couldn’t be happier calling the Pacific Northwest home. Having a passion to teach children, Anya received a degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont. During the school year, Anya is a teacher at Open Window School in Bellevue. Outside of teaching, you can find her hiking, kayaking, or doing puzzles.

 

 


SarahRogersSarah Rogers, Preschool Garden Guide & Aftercare

Born and raised in Ballard, Sarah grew up playing at Seattle’s local parks and beaches. She studied geology at Northern Arizona University, where she also fell in love with birding and natural history. She did a Student Conservation Association internship in interpretation at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park during the summer of 2014, leading Junior Ranger and Ranger Cub programs, which changed her trajectory to environmental education. That fall she began working as an interpreter at the Pacific Science Center, and the following summer did another SCA internship in Coldfoot, AK, at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center. She now works as an educator at the Pacific Science Center’s outreach education program, Science On Wheels, and as a naturalist for the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. In her free time she enjoys climbing, doodling, and exploring the beautiful world we live in.


 

 

 

 

Plants, Predators, and Food Webs

June 3rd, 2016 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant
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How could this pollinator be affected by a predator consuming a herbivore?

What is a food web and and how does each part interact? Ecological relationships between plants and animals can be complex. Plants produce food for many animals, forming the basis for food chains and shaping a community. Herbivores consume plants and have evolved special adaptations for digesting them. Herbivores can influence plants directly, through consumption, but plants can also experience ‘indirect effects’ through predators who control the herbivores. For example, wolf re-introduction in Yellowstone has increased willow tree growth by controlling the elk that eat them. Plant pollinators can also be affected by predators, indirectly benefiting plant reproduction and survival.  We will explore how plants can be affected by predators of herbivores in the food chain and explore trophic cascades.

Cost: Free! Optional $5 donation at the door supports our education programs
Please RSVP online, by phone (206-685-8033) or email (urbhort@uw.edu)

Instructor Leeanna Pletcher is an Assistant in the Saplings Education Program at University of Washington Botanical Gardens where she teaches elementary school groups about forests, wetlands, and ecology through hands-on activities, games and observation. She has taught biology as an Adjunct Instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her research interest is Ecology.

How do wolves, willow and elk interact?

How do wolves, willow and elk interact?

June 2016 Plant Profile: Primula bulleyana

June 1st, 2016 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 12.42.10 PMPrimula bulleyana was discovered in China in 1906 by Scottish plant hunter George Forrest (1873-1932). It was named in honor of Mr. A. K. Bulley of Ness, Neston, Cheshire, (county in NW England) for whom [Forrest] collected.¹ He described his first sighting as follows: “Where marshy openings occurred, the turf was gaudy with the blooms of a multitude of herbaceous plants, [and] I saw miles, really, of Primula Bulleyana [sic] …”²

The UW Botanic Gardens has much smaller groupings displayed at the Pacific Connections Garden (in the China Entry Garden), but they still make a stunning impact. They are also peppered alongside the small, shaded creek in the Woodland Garden amongst Darmera and Skunk Cabbage.

Primula bulleyana is prized as a garden ornamental and has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This primrose performs best in damp soils alongside streams or ponds and can take sun or shade. The grouping in the China Entry Garden is in soil with average moisture and full sun and they look particularly healthy, so it seems to be an plant that can adapt to various garden situations. The florets are also fairly tolerant of cold winter temperatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Botanic Name: Primula bulleyana

Family: Primulaceae

Common Name: Candelabra Primrose, Bulley’s Primrose

Location: Woodland Garden, Pacific Connections Garden/China Entry Garden 110-08*A

Origin: Northwestern Yunnan and Southern Sichuan regions of China

Height and Spread: 20-24” tall, up to 12” wide at base. These primroses can spread easily from their seeds.

Bloom Time: Spring

Description: semi-evergreen, herbaceous plant, bearing 5-7 whorls of florets along the stem and lanceolate leaves with a lovely reddish petiole and mid-rib.

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¹ Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 4(19): 231–232, pl. 39A, 42. 1908.

² http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/primula-bulleyana-bulleys-primula

Glimpse into the past – Changes in the Landscape

June 1st, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Currently there are many physical changes occurring in the north end of the Washington Park Arboretum, due to the construction of new SR-520 bridge. Local residents often remark that these changes will “disfigure” the natural landscape which has always been there. The truth is, this area has been greatly changed and altered over the past one hundred years, ever since the level of Lake Washington was lowered.  In fact, there is little left of its “original” shape. It has been dredged, moved, filled, planted and re-planted.

Many of the boggy areas in Washington Park, even starting from Madison Street north, have been filled with debris and served as neighborhood dumping sites. The areas north of Foster Island Drive/Lake Washington Blvd. E. were all fill sites. Now as the ramps come down and new changes occur, it will change once again.

The following photos show some of the changes in the 1940’s.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo looks north over the former city dump off of E. Miller Street, across Union Bay, toward Laurelhurst, soil being added and plowed in.  March 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo shows area being covered with soil.   November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo across fill…present location of ramps….looking west toward Simon poplars (Populus simonii ‘Pendula’).  November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo after seeding.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo looking toward lagoon area where many lindens are planted.   November 1947.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

Photo with more plantings. January 1, 1949.

 

Another Successful BioBlitz!

May 27th, 2016 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

By Alicia Blood, Youth and Family Programs Supervisor

It’s hard to believe it has been 3 weeks since UW Botanic Gardens staff, taxa experts and community volunteers joined forces in our 2016 BioBlitz.  It was an amazing weekend full of sunshine, teamwork, and exploration. The Washington Park Arboretum, and Foster Island in particular, was abuzz with the opening day of boating season festivities, but that didn’t stop our dedicated crew! In all, we had over 86 people take part in our weekend BioBlitz events, including an entire University of Washington Entomology class.  Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:

DSC_0346smallWe started our weekend with an introduction to a BioBlitz for families on Friday evening. Participating families explored what a scientist does during a BioBlitz through a variety of hands-on stations. Children participated in a variety of activities which showed them how to think and act like a scientist, including creating a plant field guide and observing aquatic macroinvertebrates. In addition, families had the opportunity to join in on a few guided group hikes to find birds and pond life. We had a great time practicing our skills and learning about what a BioBlitz is. In fact, a few families returned the following day to put their new skills into action in one of our taxa groups!

BatsFriday evening kicked off our first official taxa group – bats! Michelle Noe from Bats Northwest brought a crew out to collect acoustic data, allowing us to listen to bat calls. Our experts then used the data collected to reveal that there were 5 different species of bats on Foster Island that night!   We also led a group of families on a bat focused night hike where they learned about bats, played a few bat games and had the opportunity to see bats flying overhead.

DSC_0426After a quick night’s sleep, we returned early Saturday morning to start off our day with our birds taxa group at dawn. This group of dedicated volunteers arrived bright and early (with children in tow) to beat the Boating Day foot traffic on Foster Island. With the sun recently risen, they headed out to the northern-most point of the island to begin their observations. Surrounded by springtime bird behaviors, this group had the opportunity to clearly view the Bald Eagle’s nest, stand by while a marsh wren went about its job protecting its nest, observe a Virginia Rail, and see many baby birds and ducklings.

While our birds group was out exploring Foster Island, volunteers were arriving at the Graham Visitors Center and gearing up to head out in our morning taxa groups. Teams assembled to collect data on lichens, bryophytes, noxious weeds and insects. Included in this group were college students enrolled in an entomology course at the University of Washington taught by Dr. Patrick Tobin, who added great energy to the morning. Teams spread out across Foster Island and went to work finding 16 species of bryophytes, 21 lichens, 25 noxious weeds, and a lot of insects! The noxious weed group found an interesting specimen. While the ID has yet to be verified, we think it might be Lonicera maackii or Amur honeysuckle, an invasive plant native to the NE United States.

DSC_0495smallOur final groups, arrived in the afternoon, eager to take a look at our plant collections as well as explore the waters of Foster Island in search of aquatic macroinvertebrates and mussels. Team Water headed all the way out to the furthest point on Foster Island and got right in the water to examine who was enjoying life in Lake Washington. Their investigation was highlighted by an abundance of sunshine and the festive Opening Day of Boating Season Boat Parade (I heard they got to sing along to the Love Boat song 6 times)!  Meanwhile, Team Plant was out checking plant collections on Foster Island, noting tree sizes, condition and tracking any trees that were not recorded on our 20 year old maps. Through these observations they noted an extreme increase of native species along the edges of Lake Washington.

DSC_0461 (2)When the day was over, our basecamp was packed up and our volunteers and taxa experts had departed, we had a moment to reflect on our accomplishments. With a wild Boating Day weekend on Foster Island, we were sure we would run into some challenges, but in the end everything seemed to run along as smooth as can be. We had 86 people participate in our weekend BioBlitz including many young and eager future scientists! Staff had a blast working alongside experts and volunteers and especially enjoyed sharing the wonders of nature at the Arboretum. With BioBlitz 2016 barely in the past we are now looking forward to our next event – stay tuned for fall 2017.  In the meantime, make sure to check out our data here, and don’t forget to make time to come out and explore the UW Botanic Gardens!

DSCN0663A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and community volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period. The University of Washington Botanic Gardens has completed four BioBlitzes at the Washington Park Arboretum over the last six years.

 

 

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Faculty Spotlight: Tom Hinckley

May 25th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Tom Hinckley

Tom Hinckley no doubt kept his much younger graduate students challenged to  keep up as he climbed to over 7000′ on Snowshoe Mountain in the North Cascades. It was there he chose to conduct research on the effects of environmental stress on three species of native trees.

Hinckley needed that energy as he served both as Director for the UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture (1998-2004),  and as researcher, teacher and mentor at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, where he is now emeritus professor.

“I first came to Seattle in March 1964 to ski in the Cascades, and I must have gotten hooked,” he says, “because I returned two years later to attend graduate school.”

Hinckley received a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota (1966) and his PhD in Forest Ecophysiology from the UW in 1971.  Despite his science focus, he reports that his favorite course in college was actually American History because “it was taught extraordinarily well.”

After time spent teaching in Missouri, Hinckley returned to the University of Washington in January 1980 to join the faculty.  Many of his colleagues, with whom he co-taught and worked on joint research projects, were the initial faculty cohort at UW-Botanic Gardens (James Clark, Barb Smit-Spinks, Deane Wang, Kern Ewing).

With Kern Ewing and others he was involved in launching the Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN).  UW-REN is now a regional center for the study of ecological restoration and conservation, creating new undergraduate research and curricula, much of it taking place at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

“Now that I am retired, I am a regular visitor to the Soest Garden– my favorite place to walk and take in nature the the Center,” he says, “and I am also active in helping find financial resources to maintain and grow the garden.”

Hinckley is still an avid skier, hiker and photographer.  And when asked about his favorite plant, he had a clear preference:

Abies amabilis,” he clamoured.  This tree, also called Pacific silver fir or “lovely” fir because of the softly silver undersides on the needles and gorgeous purple-hued cones that stand upright on the branches. Hinckley loves the looks of this tree, its mountain habitat and, “the fact that it got me my first job teaching at the University of Missouri.”