October Color Arrives at CUH

October 29th, 2010 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Center for Urban Horticulture for late October 2010

  1. Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ – Feather Reed Grass
  2. Chrysanthemum ‘Apricot’ – Apricot Chrysanthemum
  3. Ageratum altissimum (Eupatorium rugosum) ‘Chocolate’
  4. Perovskia atriplicifolia – Russian Sage
  5. Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Joy’ – Autumn Joy Sedum

Complete details.

Public Comment Period to Open on WSDOT’s SR 520

October 26th, 2010 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

WSDOT’s SR 520, I-5 to Medina Project: Section 6(f) Environmental Evaluation comment period will be ending on Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The preferred alternative selected for the SR 520, I-5 to Medina: Bridge Replacement and HOV Project will convert properties protected by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have prepared a Section 6(f) Environmental Evaluation in accordance with the LWCF Act Section 6(f)(3).  This document evaluates the effects of converting recreational properties (e.g., parks) protected by Section 6(f) to non-recreational use and replacing them with property of at least equal fair market value and of reasonably equivalent usefulness and location. The Section 6(f) protected properties proposed for conversion are portions of the Ship Canal Waterside and Arboretum Waterfront Trail complex, and portions of two associated parks, East Montlake Park and the Washington Park Arboretum. The Section 6(f) Environmental Evaluation will be available for a 30-day public comment period beginning in early November 2010.

Please check back in early November for a link to the document and comment form. For more information on the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program, please visit the project website at


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

October 22nd, 2010 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for the 2nd half of October 2010

  1. Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’ (Compact Strawberry Tree)
  2. Camellia japonica (Common Camellia)
  3. Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’ (Winterberry)
  4. Illicium henryi (Henry Anise Tree)
  5. Mespilus germanica (Medlar)

Complete details.

Chile news is good news!

October 21st, 2010 by Jennifer Youngman, Program Coordinator

Monkey Puzzle tree photo“Uno, dos, tres, cut!” cried Paige Miller, the Arboretum Foundation’s executive director. Armed with garden shears, dignitaries clipped the bamboo ribbon, officially opening the Gateway to Chile in Washington Park Arboretum’s Pacific Connections Garden. Bathed in sunshine, and on the heels of the Chilean miners’ safe return above ground, the Oct. 17 Gateway to Chile celebration was triply joyous. Watch a 2 1/4-minute video.

Can’t wait until the monkey puzzle trees and other fascinating plants mature so you can stand immersed in a Chilean forest? Join Dr. Sarah Reichard, professor at UW Botanic Gardens, and Plantsman Dan Hinkley for a breathtaking tour of Chile’s national botanical gardens, parks, nurseries and private estate gardens Jan. 15-30, 2011.

Kid types

October 20th, 2010 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

The mere thought of actually writing a blog entry w/ pen & paper started to make my hand cramp up. Granted, I have all the signs of early on-set arthritis from years spent farming & gardening for a living (using mostly hand-tools), but even still, this anxiety over the written word is pathetic! And I’ve only been typing on a keyboard consistently since college, about 10 years. It makes me think about the kids I had the chance to hang out w/ today during a Plants 201 fieldtrip.

They were 3rd graders, about 10 years old, from W. Woodland Elementary, and they were a lot of fun. Their excitement to be on a fieldtrip was palpable & contagious & I had a few moments to bathe in it (and the spectacular October sun) while mentally preparing for the ensuing adventure. This Marked my 2nd time leading P201 & so I had an idea of how I wanted it to go, but every group is so different, and I think the last group I was working with was a group of homeschoolers – a completely different animal.

Overall, the program went great. They were a sharp bunch w/ lots of energy/curiosity, the chaperones they came with were engaged and helpful, and represented in this group of 16 there were what I call ‘kid types’ (and what the PhD’s call “learning styles”) from across the board. There were the quiet kids who seem to get it, and the quiet kids who don’t get it at all but who hang in there by reading the social cues; there were the know-it-all kids who do in fact know it all, but who aren’t quite literate in those social cues; there were a few spark plugs (that remind me of my wife), who just need to be entertained (or entertaining) at all times and they’re good; there were a couple too-cool-for-school kids (that remind me of myself) who are into what’s going on, but trying not to show it; etc.

I just overheard a woman behind me (early middle-aged) say, “…oh, you’re not a Facebooker are you…”, and that brings me back to my point. Those kids today have grown up w/ computer keyboards & are most likely far more adept w/ all things computer related, perhaps even typing, than myself. Does this increased exposure to the technological world necessarily result in a decreased understanding of the natural one? Richard Louv might call this a characteristic symptom of “Nature Deficit Disorder”. But what does this mean to a kid on a fieldtrip to a place like the Arboretum, or any “natural” space for that matter? Should we even be trying to teach these kids anything during their 1.5 hour respite from modern life or would they be better off simply having time to explore this strange environment?

This is all merely philosophical musings in this day & age. Pens & paper aren’t yet just archaic relics making up an antiquor’s inventory, and kids aren’t so far removed from tree bark & dirt to be completely enthralled by them w/out some trickery on the environmental educator’s part, but some day… And for some kids that day will be sooner than others. Seattle kids have the natural world at their fingertips (like keyboards), but have you ever seen a picture of a New Delhi slum, downtown Mexico City, Detroit! Kids from these places probably feel like extra terrestrials in an arboretum.

So if you take anything from this rant, just remember to remember that there are all kinds of kid-types when you’re writing/typing up your next fieldtrip curriculum, and do your best to include stuff that will appeal to them all.

October 2010 Plant Profile: Symphyotrichum (Aster) lateriflorum ‘Prince’

October 11th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Symphyotrichum (Aster) lateriflorum ‘Prince’

A regular visitor to the garden recommended that I make sure that I profile a plant that would stop people on their tracks when they walk by it and for October of this year, I’ve selected a dashingly handsome Aster, or now properly known as Symphyotrichum lateriflorum ‘Prince’ thriving happily in Bed 8. After years of sulking in the same bed; but overtaken by other plants, I finally moved it where it would receive full sun and less competition and, oh boy, did it take off! It is a much revered plant in the fall landscape because of its compact habit, dark purple foliage and the masses of miniature daisy-like blooms that bloom for weeks until a very hard frost. Many who see it are surprised that such a small plant could produce so many flowers!

Common Name: Calico Aster
Family: Asteraceae
Origin: Garden Origin
Location: Soest Garden Bed 8
Height: 1.5ft. tall
Spread: 2ft. wide
Bloom Time: Late September to hard frost
Bloom Type/Color: Small composite, white with pink centers.
Exposure: Full Sun
Water/Soil: Average, well drained.

CUH Update – October 2010: UW Classes, plant evaluations and fall color

October 11th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'

Classes in UW are in full swing as is the fall landscape at UWBG. Color is just beginning to show on our deciduous trees and the fall-blooming perennials are slowly waiting in the wings to burst into flight and glorious bloom here at CUH. After a inconsistent and late summer, fall seems to be right on queue as the weather slowly cools and our usual autumn tasks are well underway: fertilizing the lawn, planting and transplanting, monotonous raking and gathering of fallen leaves in either cold wet or windy weather, and one of my more favorite task is evaluating the year’s successes and failures in order to plan for next season.

Our formal evaluations were actually done on a crop of hardy perennials supplied to us by Blooms of Bressingham. For years we’ve received material and grown them on for people to see, but it was just last year that we resumed our formal trials and gave “BLOOMS” our feedback on how well their plants performed. This season, I decided to step it up; I recruited a enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer to help me with maintenance and evaluations based on a set of criteria. We noted things like flowering period, stem and foliage quality, and pest and disease resistance. Maintenance practices were also jotted down to determine a variety’s overall performance throughout the growing season. I hope to develop an exclusive page that will feature photos of each variety under evaluation and our findings. There are some exceptional varieties and a few that never should have entered the market based on our criteria. So, stay tuned for those results!

Helichrysum Pink Sapphires - a brand new variety drawing much attention as it completes its 2nd year of evaluations.

One of the more exciting things to observe as an employee is being able to access “behind the scenes” to see the number of student projects taking place. Graduate students and post docs run various experiments and several classes make use of our facilities to set up labs and it’s all very fascinating to see. At times I feel like I’m so out of touch with recent developments and research, but it’s reassuring to know that there are hard working individuals answering various questions concerning our ever-changing ecosystems and landscapes.

Both the students and the general public have a most treasured resource here at CUH that’s celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library is one of the best in the nation providing both novice and professionals a tremendous number of resources related to gardening and plants. Be sure to check our calendar for upcoming events to celebrate.

Our Douglas Conservatory has never really lived up to its name as our collection of indoor plants have consisted of only random hand-me downs from various sources who didn’t want to bother with them and tropicals left over from seasonal containers, but with a few doing reasonably well. I asked one of our volunteers to work with what we have and create a more appealing composition. Here’s what we came up with:

With fall being an ideal time to plant and transplant, expect a few changes as we play another round of musical plants. Look out for new plantings, a lot of digging and thinning and, hopefully, a few pleasant surprises come spring. There’s plenty to do as we shift in the seasons and I invite you all to come and visit and see the transformation before your eyes!


Cherry Pruning Time

October 8th, 2010 by UWBG Horticulturist

Our horticulture staff will begin pruning our cherry collection, mostly along Azalea Way, next week. October is our window to prune based on the life-cycle of the insect pest, Cherry Bark Tortrix -it’s not flying around seeking easy entry portals like fresh pruning wounds now. Most of our pruning focuses on  large dead branches, as well as, unwanted basal suckers below graft unions. We just don’t have the staff to detail out all the small dead twiggy growth from years of brown rot infestations. We do mulch our cherries which helps decrease amount of fungal spores to reinfect next year’s blossoms.

Also, our tree crew will be removing 7 decrepit – brown rot and decay riddled, poor health specimens. 6 are Prunus subhirtella cvs. (the most susceptible to brown rot) and one is a Prunus sargentii w/ significant crown die-back. We may decide to replant if the sites are suitable w/ brown rot resistant cultivars in the future.

October Color Arrives at the Washington Park Arboretum

October 7th, 2010 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for October 2010

  1. Araucaria araucana
  2. Blechnum chilense
  3. Crinodendron hookeranum
  4. Fuchsia magellanica ‘Versicolor’
  5. Lobelia tupa

Complete details.

Wetlands 201

October 4th, 2010 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

So I had the pleasure of leading a group of 5th graders from Emerson today on a Wetlands 201 fieldtrip. It was a first for both us, as this was one of the fieldtrips that we re-vamped over the summer, and my first time trying it out on live victims.

Over all it went really well. Great kids, gorgeous fall day, bald eagle sighting, plenty of macros in the aquatic dip…

Surprisingly, it was the first time some of them had heard the terms “producer, consumer, & decomposer”, or if they’d heard them, they’re understanding was fuzzy. It gave me something to think about on my bike ride home this afternoon.

Recently, one of my veteran garden guides asked me, “why so much emphasis on producers, consumers, & decomposers?” (the concept has been added to pretty much every program we do). My immediate response was something like, “b/c I’m an ecologist at heart, a big-picture kind of guy, and these are the essential ingredients of the big picture…that, and P,C,D’s were pounded into my head at Islandwood”.

But now I have a much better answer…

“If you look deep, deep into nature, you will understand everything.”  Einstein said that, and Einstein was a smart dude.

If we can get kids to understand the basic concept of a food web – that producers make food that consumers consume and decomposers decompose so that producers can make more food, then kids will grow up to understand how this world works, and by extension, how to best live in it.

The Industrial Revolution ushered in the era of “humans as producers”.  Since then we’ve found myriad ways to harness the energy of the sun to make stuff. The ability has become so engrained in our societies, that to stop making stuff would be to crash everything.

Consuming all this stuff we make is 2nd nature, and nobody owns this “humans as consumers” concept better than we Americans. (An old slogan keeps running through my head…”why only eat just one, we’ll make more”.)

The era we’re only just starting to enter (I hope) is the “humans as decomposers” era. Perhaps b/c we’re surrounded by it, trash is starting to look valuable. There’s big money in taking junk and re-producing it into something consumable. If the titans of industry from back in the day were better ecologists, this would have been a no brainer, and we might not have overflowing landfills and islands of garbage.

In nature, nothing is wasted. This is the simple truth that teaching kids about food webs and the relationship between producers, consumers & decomposers gets at.  And if those 5th graders took away one thing today, I hope it was that.

Who knows, maybe one of those kids will go on to invent the trash-powered DeLorean from Back to the Future, and may be he/she will remember that fieldtrip they took in 5th grade and decide to donate a bunch to the Arboretum to replace the golf carts…one can only dream.