Get Inspired on the Northlake Wedding & Events Tour

October 8th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Planning an upcoming wedding, holiday party or corporate event? You’re invited to a fresh and fabulous tour featuring of a variety of event venues located throughout Fremont and the University District.

bride photoJoin us at Center for Urban Horticulture during registration and catch the next seat available on the provided transportation when you are ready to see another featured venue. At each venue you will find a variety of vendors that have worked together to present you with gorgeously themed spaces and endless inspiration. Did we mention that each of the featured caterers will be providing flavorful fare along the way? From innovative photo booths to extravagant floral designs, each vendor will be highlighting their work in new and exciting ways!

Transportation will be traveling on a loop to make sure you hit all the venues participating. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get back to your car when you are finished!

Date: Sunday, October 18th 2015
Address: Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105


$20 for one | $30 for a pair

$5.00 discount with valid UW Student ID/Husky Card

Promo code: NLTSD15

How did you hear about the Northlake Tour: CUH

tour postcard

October Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

October 7th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (October 5 - 18, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (October 5 – 18, 2015)

1)  Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’                Blue Atlas Cedar

  • A large coniferous tree with vivid, glaucous blue foliage, making it easy to identify.
  • Native to Algeria and Morocco on the Atlas Mountains, these specimens can grow up to 100 feet tall and beyond.
  • Located in the Pinetum near the Lynn Street play area.

2)  Cunninghamia lanceolata                China Fir

  • Members of the family Taxodiaceae, these trees are named after James Cunningham, who originally found C. lanceolata on the Island of Chusan in 1701.
  • Cunninghamias are closely related to the redwoods (Sequoia), although the foliage is similar to that of the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana).
  • Located in the Pinetum near the Newton Street entrance.

3)  Picea engelmannii ssp. Mexicana                       Engelmann Spruce

  • Conical tree with bluish-green to steel-blue needles.
  • Native to the mountains of western North America from Alberta and British Columbia (where it attains its greatest size) and south to New Mexico and Arizona.

4)  Picea pungens ‘Glauca’                Blue Colorado Spruce

  • P. pungens is allied to P. engelmannii, differing in its glabrous shoots, and in its bluer, more pungently pointed leaves.
  • Native to the Rocky Mountains and southern China.
  • Located in the Pinetum.

5)  Sequoia Sempervirens ‘Henderson Blue’                Coast Redwood

  • Native to a narrow belt of the California coastline, where summer fogs off the Pacific Ocean are frequent and mitigate the seasonal heat and drought.
  • Located in the Pinetum near 26th Ave. East and East McGraw Street.

October 2015 Plant Profile: Cucurbita maxima

September 29th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

squash photoBy Sarah Geurink

Beautiful, packed with calories and vitamins, and easily stored for up to several months, winter squash is one of the most rewarding crops for vegetable gardeners to grow. One of our favorite squash varieties grown at the UW Student Farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture is Confection Squash. Similar to Crown Prince, popular in England, New Zealand, and Australia, Confection is a beautiful blue-grey, squat kabocha-type squash most notable for its incredible flavor, rich sweetness and texture, and edible skin. Confection squash is versatile, too—a perfect ingredient for savory soups or sweet pies alike. Note that Confection squash actually becomes more flavorful the longer it is stored, and will usually sit happily in storage throughout the winter. It is worth the wait!

Winter squash seeds should be sown in the spring, after your last spring frost and not less than 14 weeks before your first fall frost. Grow your winter squashes in a sunny area with fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5, and water your plants regularly. Confection squash is ripe when the fruit has taken on a blue-grey color, the stem has browned a bit, and the skin cannot be easily pierced with your fingernail. Expect to harvest 3-4 Confection squash fruits per plant.


Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
species: C. maxima
Common Name: Confection Squash
Location: UW Student farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Staff Spotlight: Tracy Mehlin

September 25th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Tracy visiting The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Tracy is the Information Technology Librarian in the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.

She grew up in the Southwest, in Southern California and Las Vegas. She has been interested in plants since childhood, and one of her earliest gardening memories is selecting bulbs and roses from the Jackson and Perkins catalog to plant at  their house in the high desert. She moved to Seattle after college in 1996 because her sister lived here. She hadn’t planned to stay long, but got a job at a botanic garden, got married, and bought a house, setting down really deep roots! Now she spends time gardening, cooking, reading,  knitting, and enjoying the many varied restaurants of Ballard.

Tracy has a BA in Social Science and a minor in International Relations from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. She really enjoyed all her major classes in history, geography, political science, economics, and anthropology, but her favorite class was on Mexican history and culture. She also holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from UW.

Tracy became interested in UW Botanic Gardens when she read Val Easton’s column in the Seattle Times and noticed her byline, which said she was a horticultural librarian. She thought to herself that she finally had figured out what she wants to do with her life! She started volunteering in the Library autumn of 1999, was hired by the following winter, and started grad school in August 2000.

Tracy manages the websites of the Miller Library and the UW Botanic Gardens, so usually every day she edits or adds new content.  She assists patrons and fellow coworkers with computer and technology questions, and works on various projects as they come up, such as working with a vendor to redesign the interactive map of the Arboretum so that it works on smartphones.

Tracy really enjoys talking to patrons and coworkers about plants and feels so lucky to work here!
Her favorite place at the UW Botanic Gardens is walking from Merrill Hall to Douglas Conservatory because that takes her through three beautiful, dynamic gardens that have something interesting growing all year.

Tracy’s current favorite plant is the tomato. Really! She has five in her garden and is struck by how much she enjoys tending to them. They get planted in late May as tiny little things, then grow amazingly fast, especially this year with the hot, sunny weather. Two plants are already six feet tall. She loves the way the foliage smells. Tracy finds pruning and training them to grow on rebar stakes challenges her live-and-let-grow gardening attitude. Nothing is more coveted than the first ripe tomato. She also likes to make & can green tomato chutney and roasted tomato soup to savor in winter.

Glimpse into the past – the Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree

September 22nd, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
David Zuckerman and the Centennial Tree in 2003, just after transplanting.

David Zuckerman and the Centennial Tree in 2003, just after transplanting.

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

On Thursday, October 29, 2015, the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington will honor Daniel J. Evans, on his 90th birthday, for his public leadership, scholarship, and service.  What an opportune time to mention the Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree at the Washington Park Arboretum…a coast redwood  (Sequoia sempervirens) which he planted in the south Pinetum as part of the Washington State Arbor Day program.   This tree has grown from a propagule (cutting) from the original tree named in 1989 during the State Centennial.  That tree was located at 201 Union Avenue SE, Olympia, WA, centered on a small knoll on property originally owned by Russell O’Brien, an Irish immigrant, and occupied by three generations of family thereafter.  The site is now called Centennial Park.  The tree was about 50 feet from the foundation of the old house that originally occupied the site, near a newer smaller home. (At this date, I have not been able to determine if the tree is still there, although I personally have visited it several times over the last 33 years.)

In 1998, the parent tree was at least 100 years old, 148 feet tall, and 67.2 inches in girth.  Ken Russell, Forest Pathologist, cored the tree and determined its age and wrote a description (1988) which is attached to our accession record. Other specific information can be found in the Washington State Historical Society records.  It is unknown how the tree arrived in Olympia and why it was planted on the O’Brien property.

Original certificate for the tree.

Original certificate for the tree.

In 1995, as Arboretum Director, I received an inquiry from Shelley Farber, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, asking if we would be interested in a propagule, since the DNR had several rooted trees which they wished to establish throughout the State of Washington. The official certificate is signed by Shelley on February 27, 1995 at 3:20 p.m.

The Arbor Day planting of the tree took place in a very heavy rain storm on the Washington State Arbor Day, April 12. 1995.  (The Washington State Arbor Day is a different day than the National Arbor Day).  The ceremony was attended by Dean David Thorud, UW College of Forestry, Clement Hamilton, Director of the Center for Urban Horticulture,  dignitaries from DNR, area high school students, and arboretum staff, myself included.  The arboretum staff (Christina Pfeiffer and David Zuckerman) had prepared a great planting site, with the tree (Accession #245-95) patiently waiting in its plastic pot.  After appropriate speeches, and with great gusto, the young tree was passed to David for planting preparation.  He lifted and tugged on the pot only to discover that it was totally pot bound, necessitating slicing off the pot.  Of course the roots were found to be one solid round core.   We all stood patiently for several minutes in the rain while David struggled to cut and loosen the roots, wanting to make sure the tree would survive. It has!  Finally, Governor Evans was able to plant the tree and we all quickly retreated for drier locations, leaving the staff to finish the planting job.

Governor Evans at the Arbor Day tree planting, April 12, 1995.

Governor Evans at the Arbor Day tree planting, April 12, 1995.

The Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree being transplanted, 2003.

The Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree being transplanted, 2003.

The tree flourished well, but on September 23, 2003, it was moved a few feet north, thus giving it more space.  Todd Holm, from Olympic Tree Farm, was the tree spade contractor. The tree has continued to flourish. In 2003, it was measured by Randall Hitchin at 30 feet tall, with a 6 inch dbh.  Today, it is 70 feett tall with 20 inch dbh.

I often see Governor Evans enjoying a milkshake at one of his favorite haunts, Burgermaster.   Occasionally we chat about his tree, and he tells me that he regularly visits it with his family, including his grandchildren.   This in indeed a superb tribute to a great man with a great tree which will remain a legacy for at least another 100 years, a milestone he himself is within 10 years of achieving.

Capture the moment with botanical photography!

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

Botanical Photography Classes with David Perrydavid_perry_bio3

David Perry is an inspirational, Seattle-based photographer, a willing teacher and a captivating storyteller with a keen knack for observation and a distinct twinkle in his eye. His reverence for gardens, flowers and the gardeners who tend them is apparent in the pictures he makes and his playful, sometimes irreverent manner of speaking about them keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.

David’s work has been featured on the cover of Fine Gardening four times in the past few years, and many times in Sunset, This Old House Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design, and Pacific Horticulture among others. His garden was recently featured by local Seattle Times garden columnist, Val Easton, in Pacific Northwest Magazine.

Students in David’s previous classes have raved about his teaching abilities, the individual attention given to each student, and his sense of humor.

Read on to discover three great opportunities to learn from David this fall and for you to become the botanical photographer you have always wanted to be!


Japanese Maple Photography Workshop

Washington Park Arboretum
2 parts: Mon., Sept. 28, 7-9pm & Sat., Oct. 3, 8:30am-12pm
Fee: $95 (the lecture on September 28, described in detail below, is included in this price)
Register online

This workshop includes both an instructional lecture and a photo-shooting workshop. The lecture will thoroughly cover the many styles of portraits that are possible and how they can translate across to plant photography. The full workshop is for those who wish to delve in further by participating in a hands-on workshop with shooting assignment. We will walk together to the Arboretum’s stunning collection of Japanese Maples to practice incorporating the portrait styles (The Close Up, The Environmental Portrait, The Group Photo, The Candid Portrait), and principles into our photographs. We will observe the Japanese custom of viewing autumn colors, known as “momijigari,” with our cameras, attempting to capture the essence, spirit and beauty of the Japanese Maples.

Picture Perfect Plant Portraits

***This lecture is included in the Japanese Maple Photography Workshop listed above.*** Anyone unable to make it to the Saturday photo shoot is welcome to sign up for the lecture alone.

Washington Park Arboretum
Mon., Sept 28, 7-9pm
Fee: $15
Register online

What is a plant portrait? At its most basic, a plant portrait is a likeness that celebrates the physical characteristics and ephemeral beauty of a plant. Plant portraits are a wonderful place to begin wading into the larger river of garden photography, but they are also a photographic art form that one will never outgrow. Join David E. Perry for a lively and inspiring exploration of his own adventures as a plant portraitist. Learn how to make better close-ups and how to capture the dreamy moods that will elicit the oohs and ahhs of others while showing the plants within a larger garden setting.


iPhone and iPad Botanical Photography

Center for Urban Horticulture
3 Thursday Afternoons, October 29th-November 12, 1-4pm
Fee $165
Register online

Become the master of your photographic domain. Learn to use the cameras you already have on your smartphone or tablet and the best photography apps to make pictures that can populate your website, portfolio, Instagram and Facebook pages. Learn from master photographer/storyteller David Perry, who has four covers for Fine Gardening magazine in the past two years, the most recent of which was shot with his pocket-sized point and shoot camera.


This is an opportunity not to miss! Call 206-685-8033 or email with any questions.


Student Spotlight: Nate Haan

September 14th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Nate in the Goodfellow Grove at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Nate is a PhD Candidate who became involved with UW Botanic Gardens when he joined Professor Jon Bakker’s lab at the Center for Urban Horticulture in 2013. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and moved to Seattle in 2013 to start his studies at the UW.

He enjoys spending time hiking and backpacking in the mountains or along the coast. He also spends a bit of time on art projects, usually printmaking.

Nate finished his bachelor’s degree at Calvin College in 2007, majoring in Biology.  His favorite class was called Plant Taxonomy, although it covered lots of topics other than taxonomy.  He loved it because they learned how to identify plants by their family characteristics, and had several field trips to forests, bogs and prairies to learn the local flora.  A few years later he was a Teaching Assistant for this class, and a few years after that was hired as the instructor.

Nate finished his M.S. at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment in 2010. His thesis was on ecological restoration in disturbed areas like roadsides.

Currently, he is working in prairies in the South Sound, studying Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and its interactions with its larval host plants. A typical day is usually spent in the greenhouse, watering or potting plants for various experiments. There is a captive population of checkerspot butterflies in the lab at most times, so he spends some time with various members of the lab taking care of them or setting up different experiments. Other than that, you can usually find him in the graduate office in Merrill Hall. Mostly, he enjoys coming up with new research ideas, learning new things, and occasionally getting his hands dirty.

Cool Seeds Abound

September 11th, 2015 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 1.26.25 PMPterocarya stenoptera, common name Chinese Wing Nut, has gorgeous lime green seed catkins 12-14″ long each bearing up to 80 seeds. That’s pretty amazing in itself but when these seed catkins are dripping off of each limb of a tall tree the effect is stunning.

The Wing Nut genus resides in the walnut family, or Juglandaceae, and is used for ornamental purposes in gardens around the world.   Its native habitats are in China, Japan, and Korea, growing in areas from sea level to elevations of about 1500 feet.  Like its cousin nut trees – the Walnut, Pecan & Hickory – this large deciduous tree has pinnate leaves and grows quickly with a rangy habit.Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 1.26.59 PM

We have a few different Pterocarya species in the Washington Park Arboretum collection.  I like to stop and admire the large P. stenoptera specimen along Azalea Way; it was acquired in 1951 and is now about 60′ feet tall.   Because it has many low-hanging limbs, you can touch the seed catkins, which are surprisingly rigid and tough.

You can learn about this tree and many others in our collection if you join our Free Weekend Walks for September.  Our tour theme is “Fruits, Nuts & Seed Pods” because right now is the time to marvel at the bounty which is the result of spring pollination.  Guides meet visitors at the Graham Visitors Center every Sunday at 1:00 pm and off you go to explore our great park.

Art Exhibit: Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation

September 11th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Tuesday, September 15 – Friday, October 30

slime mold artWhat do evolution and the Emperor of Japan have to do with art about slime molds? Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation reveals the stories behind four centuries of artistic devotion to these otherworldly organisms. Just what are slime molds? Worldwide, one-celled bacteria-munching travelers of the earth beneath your feet. Shimmering rainbow-colored spore-filled protists on your rosebush. Tiny dwellers of the arctic, the rainforest, and the desert. Now You See It! is a colorful foray into a little-known world: a visual and scientific delight for all ages. Come confused, leave stupefied. Curator Angela Mele is a scientific illustrator finishing the illustrations for a field guide to cosmopolitan slime molds. She recently received a Master’s of Museum Studies from the University of Washington.
The artist invites you to a reception at the Miller Library on Friday, September 18 from 5:00 to 7:00pm.

Hear Angela recount how she got started with slime molds in this interview by KPLU.

September 2015 Plant Profile: Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’

September 8th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Ray Larson, Curator

maple photoIn honor of the annual Elisabeth Miller Memorial Lecture on September 10 in Meany Hall, this month’s plant profile features one of her favorite trees, and perhaps the plant most associated with her:  Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium.’

At the UW Botanic Gardens, we have a grove of 6 planted in the Dorothy McVay Courtyard.  These trees were included at Mrs. Miller’s suggestion when Iain Robertson developed the garden design for the courtyard in the mid-1980s.  Betty Miller’s famous garden just north of Seattle includes over two dozen of the trees, which are among the very best small trees for texture and outstanding fall color.

They begin coloring in late July and slowly build to a crescendo of fiery reds ranging from flame orange to deep maroon.  They are among the most reliable trees for fall color in the Pacific Northwest, and generally at their peak in mid-October.
maple photo

As an added benefit they have small but showy flowers, which appear in early spring right before the leaves unfurl.  The shape of the leaves gives the tree its common name, and the scientific name refers to their resemblance to monkshood foliage (Aconitum).   They grow well in part shade to sun, with longest and best fall color appearing in more sun.  One of the best small trees for urban gardens, either singly or in a grove.  This is the most commonly grown Acer japonicum, but the UW Botanic Gardens has several other varieties, including impressive specimens of A. japonicum ‘O-isami’ and A. japonicum ‘Takinogawa’ in the Woodland Garden.  Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’ received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984.  It is reputedly hardier than other forms of Acer japonicum, and is rated down to USDA Zone 5.

maple leaf photoCommon name:  Fernleaf fullmoon maple
Family:   Sapindaceae
Location:  McVay Courtyard at the Center for Urban Horticulture
Origin:  The species is native to mountain forests of Japan, Manchuria and Korea.  According to Arthur Lee Jacobson’s North American Landscape Trees, this form was introduced to cultivation around 1888 by Parsons Nursery in Flushing, NY.
Height and spread:  Generally 12-18’ high and as wide
Bloom time:  Late March-early April
Bloom color:  dark red, and showy for a maple

McVay maples photo