Mason Bees in the Arboretum

April 13th, 2011 by UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson

With the goal of enhancing pollination efforts, several mason bee houses have been placed throughout the Arboretum.  What are mason bees?  Well, according to the provider of the pollinators, Dave Richards of JohnnyAppleBeez, LLC:

“The charming Mason Bee is a gentle, shiny blue-black metallic bee, and slightly smaller than a honey bee. They are a superior pollinator, but do not produce honey. Only 350 females are needed to pollinate an acre of apple trees rather than 25,000 honey bees.  After emerging in the spring from cocoons, these solitary bees first mate, then the female begins to forage pollen and nectar from flowers for next year’s offspring.

The Mason Bee gets its common name from their nesting habit of using mud to create protective partitions for their young when reproducing. When the female has provided a sufficient supply of food for the larva, she lays an egg and then seals the cell with a thin mud plug. She then provisions another cell, and continues in this fashion until the nesting hole is nearly full. Finally, the bee plasters a thick mud plug at the entrance to protect the offspring from predators and the weather.

They are not aggressive and they may be observed at very close range without fear of being stung, unless they are handled roughly or if trapped under clothing. In nature, the Mason Bee nests within hollow stems, woodpecker drillings, and insect holes found in trees or wood. Sometimes, there may be dense collections of individual nest holes, but these bees neither connect or share nests, nor help provision or protect each other’s young. Their short foraging range is about 100 yards from the nest. Depending on the weather and available food, activity continues for around four to six weeks and then the adults die.”

The bee houses will remain secured in trees until late June, when the new cocoons will be collected for next year.  Eight boxes are located along Arboretum Drive, Azalea Way, and Pacific Connections.  Can YOU find all of them?



Losses to UWBG Pine Collection

April 11th, 2011 by UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson

A turkish pine (Pinus brutia) and a Chinese white pine (Pinus armandii) were recently removed from the Canal Reserve area near the Museum of History and Industry.  Both trees declined suddenly over the past year and died over the winter.  Blue staining was evident in the wood of both trees.  We’re not sure exactly how these trees are infected with the fungus, but one theory is that a bark boring insect (red turpentine beetle) carries the pathogen into the tree.  These beetles appear to be secondary pests, meaning they attack stressed trees.  The beetles lay eggs in galleries under the bark and the larvae overwinter in these galleries.  The new generation of beetles emerges in warm weather the following spring.

Because these insect pests are secondary, management of our pine collection is focused on alleviating stress through deep root aeration, compost and mulch applications.  Dead or severely declining trees are removed and the wood and brush are destroyed immediately to stop the spread of beetle.  Persistent monitoring helps staff prioritize which trees need the most help.  Over time, we should be able to minimize losses to the collection and keep our remaining pines healthy.


April 2011 Plant Profile: Osmanthus delavayi

April 8th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

One of the most useful and attractive evergreen shrubs for the Pacific Northwest, this fragrant, spring blooming gem is hardy, easy to grow and highly adaptable to our climate. Left alone, it’s a loose and airy background shrub with clusters of densely packed tubular flowers in early spring. It also responds well to regularly pruning and shearing as a specimen or hedging plant. This is often done after flowering to stimulate growth that puts forth next year’s bloom.

Common Name: Delavay Tea Olive
Family: Oleaceae
Location: Fragrance Garden. McVay Courtyard
Origin: Western China
Height: 6-8ft. tall and
Spread: 10-15 ft. wide
Bloom Time: Late March into April
Bloom Type/Color: White, axillary, tubular flowers. Scented
Exposure/Water/Soil: Sun-Part Shade. Moderately moist and well draining soil.

Professor Sarah Reichard Named UWBG Director

April 1st, 2011 by UWBG Communication Staff

Professor Sarah Reichard

Professor Sarah Reichard

Thomas Hinckley, Interim Director School of Forest Resources, named Sarah Reichard as Interim Director until June 30, 2011, replacing Sandra Lier.  Starting July 1 Professor Reichard will be the Orin and Althea Soest Director of UWBG, and she will hold that position for one year, until June 30, 2012.

Director Hinckley announced his decision on March 25 and stated: “I am very appreciative that Sarah has accepted this position in these very uncertain times. I believe that Sarah may be the first individual to hold this position who has the combination of skill sets, innovative ideas, community connections, and stakeholder trust not only to adjust to current financial realities, but also to move UWBG forward.”

Dr. Reichard received her Ph.D., working at the Center for Urban Horticulture, in 1994 and returned in 1997 as faculty. Her research is focused on plant conservation, including the biology of both  invasive and rare plants. She is the author of more than 40 scientific papers and her new book The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic, was recently published by University of California Press.