BioBlitz reveals potentially rare stinging ant, mushroom, spider & possible new plant invaders

May 29th, 2010 by Jennifer Youngman, Communications Specialist

With more than 100 citizen scientists, university students and professionals scrutinizing Washington Park Arboretum’s nooks and crannies during Seattle’s first BioBlitz, there were bound to be a few surprises. A potentially rare native stinging ant, a potentially rare Amanita (mushroom) not often seen on the west coast, a potentially new species of spider and a couple of unexpected plants displaying suspicious behavior are just a few of the discoveries. Plus, a spider that is regionally rare appears to be common on Foster Island.

The inventory of the Arboretum’s birds, bats, lichens, fungi, reptiles, amphibians and plants (not counting the Arboretum’s plant collection, which is already documented) started at 3:00 PM May 21 and lasted 24 hours, including night-time shifts for cataloguing nocturnal life. One nocturnal lesson: participants collected regurgitated barred owl pellets, dissolved all of the material but bones, and identified bones and skulls to determine that the Arboretum’s owls dine primarily on Norway rats.

BioBlitz plants & animals mapped using handheld devicesThe après-BioBlitz is now in session. Data is being processed. Plant and invertebrate identification continues. Rare species are being confirmed. And plants such as Lonicera periclymenum, an ornamental Eurasian vine not known to be invasive here but found scrambling over plants, will be investigated to see whether they are potential new invaders in this region.

BioBlitzes have served as vehicles for biodiversity data collection for several years in locations ranging from the Nisqually Delta to Cape Cod and New York City’s Central Park. Seattle’s BioBlitz will be useful in establishing baseline data before the Highway 520 bridge project gets underway. Dr. Sarah Reichard, professor and co-associate director of the UW Botanic Gardens, worked with the Washington NatureMapping Program to organize this major undertaking, and the Arboretum Foundation funded it. Although insects were underrepresented due to cold weather and no bats were netted, more than 400 species of plants, animals, lichens and fungi were recorded. View the species tally to date and a list of predicted vs. observed birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

Check out the photo gallery accompanying this Seattle Times article. Thank you to all who contributed time, effort, expertise and enthusiasm to the BioBlitz.

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May Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum (Part 2)

May 25th, 2010 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for the period 5/24/10 to 6/7/10

  1. Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Fire Tree)
  2. Leucothoe davisia (Sierra Laurel)
  3. Pterostyrax psilophylla (Lesser Epaulette Tree)
  4. Rhododendron degronianum ssp. yakushimanum
  5. Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’

Complete details.

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May 2010 Plant Profile: Lupinus ‘The Governor’

May 12th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Lupines have long been staples in the perennial border. With their elegant line, exquisite colors and fine-textured foliage, they create accents, punctuation, and almost a wave of movement when used as a group in both the garden and in cut flower arrangements. We have just one lupine in the Soest Garden and it is a seedling strain known as ‘The Governor’. It is one of many Russell Hybrid lupines developed by George Russell in Yorkshire, England and one of the most striking perennials in the late spring garden. Interplanted with geraniums, catmint, and English roses, it’s the iconic cottage garden look that’s just so classic, it never goes out of style.

Lupinus 'The Governor' in full bloom in Bed 5 at the Soest Perennial Display Garden (Bed 5)

Common Name: The Governor Lupine
Location: Soest Garden Bed 5
Family: Fabaceae
Origin: Garden Origin
Height: 2-2.5ft.
Spread: Clumps to about 2ft.
Bloom Time: May and sometimes into June.
Bloom Type/Color: Dense open whorls of Pea-like blue and white flowers on erect spikes.
Exposure: Full Sun
Water/Soil: Well drained, moderately moist.

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May Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

May 11th, 2010 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings for May 2010 at the Washington Park Arboretum

  1. Acer palmatum ‘Scolopendrifolium’ (“Finger Leaf” Maple)
  2. Aesculus x arnoldiana
  3. Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye)
  4. Dipelta floribunda
  5. Magnolia wilsonii

Complete details.

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May Color Appears at CUH

May 7th, 2010 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings for May 2010 at the Center for Urban Horticulture

  1. Anthurium clarinervium – White-veined Anthurium
  2. Rhododendron occidentale – Western Azalea
  3. Viburnum plicatum x tomentosum ‘Mariesii’ – Double-file Viburnum
  4. Rhododendron luteum – Yellow Honeysuckle Azalea
  5. Centaurea montana – ‘Amethyst Dream’ & ‘Amethyst in Snow’

Complete details.

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CUH Update May 2010

May 7th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

May is always an abundance of activity in the garden. Whether April’s on and off showers played much of a role in how many plants are blooming right now, each year we’re overwhelmed with the work as temperatures begin to warm up and just about everything calls our attention; people make requests for things (they ask more questions and are more curious and observant about a lot of things like the endless weeds we’ve been trying to stay on top of) and even the plans themselves demand that they get the cutting back, pinching, top-dress of compost and irrigation they require in order to perform their best. It’s an ongoing challenge and with three part time gardeners overseeing all of CUH Grounds and the Union Bay Natural Area, we truly try our best with the time and resources we have.

The Fragrance Garden in early May 2010

Amidst the chaos of choking weeds and a flurry of events and activities that occur at this time of year, the gardens and the plants themselves somehow manage to put on a tremendous show and visitors are constantly delighted by it all. With our recent changes and game of “musical plants”, the Fragrance Garden is looking fuller and far better defined. It still has a ways to go and a few minor planting schemes have yet to be implemented, but for the most part, plants are more appropriately placed and most everything is thriving very well. The Soest Garden next door continues to be the signature piece of CUH Grounds with its beautiful borders and captivating selection of plants. Bed 7 has got to be the most exciting bed as a jewel box packed with treasures. Epimedium ‘Lilafee’ is absolutely at its peak as are the dramatic stems of Disporum ‘Night Heron’ that seems to draw a lot of attention. We are also expecting the blossoming of a rare variety of the Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum v. yunnanese).

Bed 7 of the Soest Garden in early May 2010

Here is some eye-candy that should prompt a visit to CUH very soon because in a few weeks, they’ll be gone:

Tulipa batalinii 'Bright Gem'. A charmingly true and perennial tulip

Bergenia 'Bressingham White'. Lovely evergreen foliage and a nice floral showing in early spring.

Anemone Vestal

Anemone nemorosa 'Vestal' growing in the dry shade bed of the Soest Garden

The McVay Courtyard is in dire need of attention and direction as it needs to move forward with the next phase of its evolution. Phormium has had the toughest time the last two winters and I’m beginning to question their status as a perennial plant for the Northwest. Many people have begun to write it off as an evergreen perennial and simply treat it as an annual or a container subject. Even if phormiums die back down, they are fully capable of returning, but it takes a full growing season to actually get a substantial specimen and at that point, winter has returned. There are many potential substitutions and ideas for replacement. So, stay tuned and find out what takes place in the next few months.

With a few weeks delay, we are still preparing for the arrival of a set of new introductions from Bloom of Bressingham. The beds themselves are really coming along with many cultivars under evaluation in full bloom for people to see. I would very much like to get a set of volunteers to help with these evaluations and perhaps help maintain the beds as well. If this sounds at all interesting to you, please contact David Zuckerman, our horticultural grounds supervisor at dzman@u.washington.edu. If you’d like to learn more about what would be involved in evaluating and maintaining “BLOOMS”, please feel free to email me: rhr2382@uw.edu. I will post our report on 2009 plants next week and, hopefully, the new plants will have arrived by then!

Well, the weeds are calling and the lawn is SCREAMING to be mowed and edged. I hope the two classes and meeting in Isaacson Hall and conference in NHS don’t mind the noise too much. The two weddings and 3 outdoor workshops this weekend will thank them.

Cheers,

Riz

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