Registration opens for Conserving Biodiversity Conference Oct. 3

September 30th, 2011 by Wendy Gibble

DryasdrumondiiConserving Plant Biodiversity in a Changing World: A View from NW North America

University of Washington Botanic Gardens, Seattle, WA
March 13-14, 2012

We face an uncertain future – economically, politically, and climatically. Those concerned with managing, researching or protecting rare plants and their habitats need to be aware of these changes and have the necessary tools to effectively address them. We will have papers, both invited and contributed, that will engage all in a dialogue intended to raise questions and find solutions. Participants from throughout northwestern North America will contribute ideas and meet colleagues for future collaboration. More information at the conference website.


Call for Abstracts Open until October 28th



Oral History of UWBG Open House Nov. 1

September 28th, 2011 by Carrie Bowman

Oral History of Washington Park Arboretum, the Arboretum Foundation and the Center for Urban Horticulture

Graham Visitor Center

In 2010, a combined effort of many donors, led by John Wott, funded an oral history project, administered by the Miller Library. Carrie Bowman is supervising the project; Shelly Leavens was hired last November and spent the past ten months conducting research and interviewing people. People with long term associations with the Washington Park Arboretum, the Arboretum Foundation, and/or the Center for Urban Horticulture were invited to participate. Carrie, with the help of many others, looked for narrators who fulfilled multiple roles within these organizations, as well as seeking narrators from outside them.

The collection of interviews is an open door to our history. The intent of this phase of the project was to collect a variety of interviews, index them so that people can determine what was discussed, and organize them so that materials relevant to each interview are gathered in one place. Research materials, field notes, indexes, and narrator data sheets are all included with the interviews. This collection will remain in the Miller Library and will be available for public use. Arboretum Bulletin article.

The public is invited to a presentation of the project on Tuesday, November 1, from 5 – 7 pm in the Miller Library. Several displays will showcase the interview collection and will remain on exhibit in the library from Oct 21 until the week of Nov 20. The displays include audio clips from the interviews, set up so that people can browse at 5-10 different “stations.” Light refreshments will be provided.

Merrill Hall photo

Russian Flora & Viburnum

September 27th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Valentin Yakubov, David Giblin, Tony Allison

I had the opportunity to attend two “brown bag lunch” presentations over the past week.  The first was delivered last Friday by a visiting Russian botanist named Valentin Yakubov.  Valentin is a leading scientist at the Institute of Biology and Soil Science, part of the Russian Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Science. Valentin is a specialist when it comes to the flora of the RFE and was brought over with grant funding from a private foundation as part of a continuing partnership between Vladivostok Botanic Garden and the UW Botanic Gardens.  Over two trips, Valentin curated well over 1,000 specimens and according to David Giblin, UW Herbarium Collections Manager, did 3 months of work by a normal botanist during a span of  about 4 weeks.  The man is a machine.  The purpose of this most recent visit was to identify the  last remaining unidentified specimens collected during a past project centered on the flora/fauna of the RFE.  Here’s a brief description of that project:

“From 1996 through 2003 researchers from the University of Washington Herbarium (WTU) participated in the International Kuril Islands Project/International Sakhalin Islands Project (IKIP/ISIP;  A National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to the University of Washington enabled this multi-year partnership with Russian and Japanese researchers to document the distribution and diversity of multiple organismal groups (e.g., insects, vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, mammals, fish, mollusks) of these undersurveyed areas of Far East Russia.  WTU researchers made over 10,000 vascular plant, bryophyte, and lichen collections over the course of the project.”

David Giblin, was in attendance last Friday, and said that finally having all of these specimens identified and cataloged feels like a giant mill-stone has been removed from around his neck.  His gratitude and respect for Valentin’s expertise and incredible work ethic were readily apparent.   Valentin’s presentation featured a slideshow of plants he’d collected this past summer on Kamchatka Peninsula.  For me, a non-taxonomist, the remarkable and enjoyable thing about the presentation was watching this small gathering of American taxonomists “geek out” over the similarities/differences of Russian and Pacific Northwest plant species.  A big shout out to Tony Allison, Garden Guide extraordinaire here at the UWBG, for his stellar translating skills, and another big shout out for Latin – the language of science! If so interested, check out WTU’s online database where you can explore their collection digitally.


V. laurestinus

The 2nd presentation on “Viburnum Diversity and Evolution” was given on Monday by Michael Donoghue, a visiting professor from Yale University, whose life work (and current sabbatical) is focused on the genus viburnum.  Here’s how his friend, Dick Olmstead of the Burke Museum, described the talk:

“Michael has been a leader in the application of phylogenetic inference to understanding plant evolution.  He and his students have developed a number of widely used methods for studying things such as quantifying diversification rates, interpreting historical biogeography, constructing huge trees from diverse data, using phylogenies to interpret the evolution/assembly of plant communities, etc.  Viburnum has been the subject of much of his research over the past 30 years.”

I only understand about half of that description, so my main reason for attending was due to the fact that Viburnums constitute one of our core collections here at the Washington Park Arboretum (WPA).  We can boast 44 different species making ours the 5 largest collection in the U.S. Prior to today’s talk, I knew nothing about this genus, and now I know a little more than nothing.  It turns out that they are fascinating; fascinating enough to lead Michael Dirr, renowned plantsman and author to say that “a garden with viburnum is akin to a life without music or art” and fascinating enough to keep Dr. Donoghue’s attention for the past 30 years.  And that was part of his underlying message – that in order to make the truly fascinating observations and discoveries about a specific part of the natural world, sometimes it takes a lifetime of looking.  Dr. Donoghue lamented somewhat about how this long-term approach to scientific research is becoming less and less common, but encouraged the UW students in attendance to do as he has done and find a specific piece of nature’s puzzle to keep in a back pocket for continued pondering.  I guess another way of looking at it is that if you study something for a few decades, eventually you’ll become the leading expert on that thing.

The three latest areas of research that Dr. Donoghue is involved in with various graduate students are: 1) the Viburnum Leaf Beetle and their arrival from the Old World (Europe) to the New World (New England); 2) the presence of extrafloral nectaries and domatia in many species of viburnum that create a symbiotic relationship by providing habitat for leaf-cleaning mites; and 3) how leaf shape variability among viburnum are correlated to environmental conditions (i.e. ovate/deciduous/toothy leaves evolved under cool temperate condition; narrow/evergreen/smooth leaves under tropical conditions).  This last one is especially interesting to paleoclimatologists seeking to better understand the Earth’s dynamic climate.

To learn more about Dr. Donoghue’s research, follow this link to his lab’s website:

And to learn more, period, stay tuned for future brown bag lunches and by all means check out the list of upcoming classes offered to the public by UWBG


WPA Fall Guide Training

September 26th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Lisa & leaves








Each fall, the Washington Park Arboretum Education and Outreach Program provides training for new and veteran guides who lead school field trips and/or Weekend Walks. This fall, guides learned firsthand about current plant-related research at the University of Washington. Hyde Herbarium Collections Manager and School of Forest Resources (SFR) graduate student Katie Murphy spoke about fall plant physiology and offered pointers for leading groups in the field. SFR graduate student Shawn Behling, whose research focuses on plant morphology, gave an inspiring walk and talk on forest ecology. Shawn has a keen eye for seeing how a plant’s architecture reflects its environmental conditions (and vice versa) and we enjoyed watching her “geek out” at the myriad tree/plant forms contained within the Arboretum.








Joyce LeCompte-Mastenbrook, doctoral candidate from the Department of Anthropology, and active volunteer at the Bernie Whitebear Ethnobotanical Garden at Discovery Park’s Daybreak Star Center, joined us last Tuesday and facilitated a lively discussion on Coast Salish culture to prepare guides to lead our very popular “Native Plants & People” fieldtrip. One of the new tid-bits I gleaned from Joyce was how important a role “networking” plays in Coast Salish culture. This networking was crucial in establishing good relationships among various groups that, among other things, enabled trade between upland and lowland villages. We wrapped up training on Thursday with a review of our “Wetlands 101 & 201” fieldtrips followed by a ducks-eye view of our Foster Island Wetland, courtesy of Agua Verde Paddle Club. The highlight of the paddle was watching a Great Blue Heron ingest a fish that looked way too big for its mouth/throat. You can check out some low-quality video footage here:
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer guide, it’s not too late! Email: for more information.

“Day of Caring” in the Arboretum, September 16, 2011

September 23rd, 2011 by UWBG Horticulturist
And the astonishing United Way “Day of Caring”  numbers are in!
  • 103 total volunteers working 417 hours!
  • Representing 4 companies/corporations: AT&T, Japan Business Association, Microsoft, Nordstrom
  • Completing 5 projects:
    • AT&T – Holly Collection
      • 3 truckloads of blackberry and weeds hauled out, roots and all!
      • Native plant bed and holly berm weeded and mulched!
    • Japan Business Association-Pacific Connections Garden, Siskiyou Slope
      • Weeded over 1,100 linear feet of 8’wide pathways and hauled out 3 truckloads of weeds!
    •  Microsoft – Pinetum
      • Wheelbarrowed and spread over 36 yards of mulch covering over 30 tree rings and beds!
    • Microsoft – Rhododendron Glen
      • 7 truckloads of blackberry hauled out, roots and all!
    • Nordstrom – Azalea Way
      • Wheelbarrowed and spread over 5000 sq’ of mulch covering several north-end Azalea beds!
  • NOTE: 1 truckload is apporximately 3 yards.
  • Special thanks to our sponsoring partner,  The Arboretum Foundation – especially Cynthia Welte and Rhonda Bush and of course our other managing partner, Seattle Parks and Rec. Without you guys, Day of Caring wouldn’t be possible.

    Blackberry Galore in Rhododendron Glen

Microsoft staff laboring in the Pinetum

Tour Cuba’s gardens with Director Reichard

September 22nd, 2011 by Jennifer Youngman, Program Coordinator

Cuba imageThe UW Botanic Gardens has just been issued a license by the US Department of Treasury so that Executive Director Sarah Reichard may lead a tour group through Cuba Feb. 22 to Mar. 4, 2012! This is a spectacular opportunity to learn about Cuba’s ecosystems, endemic and endangered species, organic farms and reforestation projects, as well as Cuban history and current events.

Everywhere you go, you’ll enjoy special opportunities to learn firsthand from local experts. You’ll meet curators of the Museum of Natural History, Havana Botanical Society members, professors, a Cuban agronomist, a local naturalist, a tobacco farmer and the owners of a unique Botanic and Herb Garden. You’ll visit the National Botanical Garden, the University of Pinar del Rio’s Orchid Garden, the Ecologically Protected Area of Mil Cumbres with hundreds of Cuba and local endemics, and Zapata Park with 1,000 plant species, 65% of Cuba’s bird species, and the Cuba crocodile.

Arrangements are being handled by Holbrook Travel, who so ably handled the details of Dr. Reichard’s and Dan Hinkley’s Chile Garden Tour early this year. The tour serves as a fundraiser for the UW Botanic Gardens.

Contact Holbrook Travel at 800.451.7111 or to reserve your place in the tour.

Holbrook Travel logo




Photos courtesy of Barbara Wright of iSustain (click to enlarge).

UW Student Completes Draft for Campus Sustainability Fund Proposal

September 15th, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

UW undergraduate Jeanine Carlson developed a draft proposal for the Campus Sustainability Fund as her Capstone project. The proposal imagines a cafe and permaculture demonstration garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Jeanine shares her vision for the proposal:

The Permaculture Perennial Guild Garden is a display and study of permaculture perennial plant guilds in an event hosting site. It provides visual demonstration, experiential learning, and a place for community to gather in sharing, learning and celebration. With the addition of the Greenhouse Café the site will provide a social hub for students, visitors, University of Washington Botanic Garden (UWBG) patrons and parents of children in educational programs.

Read the rest of the Executive Summary.

Permaculture Perennial Guild Garden Plan Sketch

September Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

September 14th, 2011 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

“C” is for Conifer

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for September 2011

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for September 2011

1)  Cedrus libanii ssp. atlantica ‘Aurea’ (syn. Cedrus atlantica ‘Aurea’)

  • Native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco
  • Young leaves have a bright yellow cast, maturing to blue-green.
  • This specimen is located in the North Pinetum.

2)  Chamaecyparis lawsoniana x pisifera

  • Hybrid of the Japanese Sawara cypress and our own Port Orford cedar
  • We have a specimen along the Pinetum Trail, south of the Wilcox Bridge.

3)  Cryptomeria japonica ‘Nana’

  • This is a dense, dwarf tree with spiraling, blue-green leaves.
  • A 50+ year old specimen is located in the North Pinetum.
  • Cryptomeria is native to China and Japan.

4)  Cunninghamia lanceolata     (false) China Fir

  • Closely related to Sequoia, the foliage of Cunninghamia ranges in color from bright green to powdery blue.
  • There are several specimens of this conifer in the North Pinetum.
  • Native to China and Taiwan

5)  Cupressus torulosa

  • An upright tree with pendant branching, this species is native from Himalayan China to Vietnam and India.
  • This specimen is on the trail to the south of the Wilcox Bridge in the Pinetum.

**Note: For a translation of this article in Estonian by Anna Galovich, please check out

UW Student Reports on Stormwater Planting at CUH

September 14th, 2011 by Jennifer Youngman, Program Coordinator
Rain garden at CUH

Proud students admiring their hard work planting up the rain garden.

The Arboretum has its bog garden. The Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) has its rain garden. A new rain garden is part of a larger project designed by Berger Partnership to direct rainwater from the roofs of Merrill and Isaacson Halls to the existing roof garden, an as-yet undeveloped hillside garden, and collection bins (rain gardens). When funding is found to complete the project, the CUH will present a completely integrated water system which collects rain, delivers it to the gardens, and drains to Lake Washington.

Lisa Haglund, a recent graduate with a degree Community, Environment, and Planning  in the UW College of Built Environments, created the planting plan for the rain garden with guidance from the UW Botanic Gardens’ Dr. Kern Ewing, David Zuckerman and Barbara Selemon. In May, students from Maggie Rose’s Ingraham High School science classes prepared the site with Haglund and Patrick Mulligan, after Selemon arranged for Haglund to give a presentation on stormwater at their school. Ingraham currently has no available site for rain garden construction, so the Ingraham students’ trip to the CUH was funded through GROW, a program designed to engage high school students with the UW Botanic Gardens.

Lisa describes her experience working with high school students:

From the first field trip to the last, I saw an awakening interest in plants, planting, maintenance techniques, and natural systems take root in many of these young people. Through experiential learning students gained knowledge of how plants and soils act to capture and filter out the contaminants in runoff, the value of freshwater and freshwater ecosystems, and how each of them can make a difference by implementing Low Impact Development  projects at their homes and schools.

Lisa’s complete LHaglund_Stormwater_GROWProgram with photos. Visit Lisa on LinkedIn.


Bioblitz 2011

September 9th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan


The UW Botanic Gardens is pleased to announce BIOBLITZ 2011, the 3rd installation of a long-term citizen science experiment aimed at measuring and tracking biodiversity within the Washington Park Arboretum – a 230 acre collection of trees founded in 1934 making it Seattle’s 4th oldest public park.

Bioblitz 2010 was held last May and attended by over 100 volunteers comprised of scientists, both professional and aspiring, of all ages and interests. Approximately 400 species from a variety of taxa groups, including a potentially new species of Philodromus crab spider.

foster island phil1The Fungus Among Us”, a special edition held in partnership with the Puget Sound Mycological Society and focused entirely on mushrooms was held in October, 2010. Close to 80 volunteers collected approximately 500 specimens during four 3-hour shifts.

With these base line numbers, we now have some idea of who is calling the WPA “home”, but these two surveys provide only snapshots of the ever changing story being played out upon this piece of urban green space. In order to gain a deeper understanding of this special place, we strive to duplicate our experiment and turn these snapshots into a movie. Our mission at the UWBG is to “sustain managed to natural ecosystems and the human spirit through plant research, display, and education.” You are invited to help us fulfill that mission by taking part in this unique event.

What: Small field groups surveying various habitats for different taxa groups during six 2.5 hour shifts over a 24 hour period.

When:  October 21 – 22

What time:

Friday, Oct. 21st                                                            Saturday, Oct. 22nd

  • 3pm-5:30                                                                     7am – 9am
  • 5:30 – 7pm (cookout dinner/lecture)              9am – 11:30
  • 7pm – 9pm                                                                   12pm – 2:30
  • 9pm – 11:30                                                                  2:30 – 3pm (show & tell)

Who:  Anyone and everyone, no experience necessary, just a healthy curiosity.

Cost:  FREE

How:  RSVP for specific shifts to or call 206-616-3381