2012 Cuba Tour Rule #1: Keep a good journal

October 18th, 2011 by Jennifer Youngman, Program Coordinator

“We were…amazed at how much we did in such a short time. At the end of the trip we were trying to remember our first full day and it seemed like months, rather than weeks, had passed.” So wrote Dr. Sarah Reichard, director of UW Botanic Gardens, shortly after returning from her 2011 Chile tour.

Dr. Reichard’s upcoming Cuba tour (Feb. 22 to Mar. 4, 2012) will feature equally outstanding opportunities to observe indigenous flora and fauna, view enticing gardens, experience Cuba’s unique culture, and learn from local experts. So be forewarned! Keep a good journal, Cuba by Barbara Wright - iSustainand you’ll be telling firsthand stories of this unusual destination for years to come.

Your walking tour of Havana Vieja with a professor of architecture will help put everything into context and inform you about historical restoration projects. You’ll learn of recent research on invasive species and ecosystems of the area with Botanic Researcher Dr. Ramona Oviedo and curators of the National Museum of Natural History. You’ll investigate horticultural practices at Alamar Organoponic Gardens, unique Cuban gardens with 160 cooperative owners. You’ll meet elementary school students, and you’ll attend a presentation by members of the National Institute for Research on Tropical Agriculture and the Cuban Association of Crop and Forestry Professionals.

And that’s just the first two days! What were we saying about keeping a good journal?

Despite revolution and economic hardship, Cuba is alive with private and botanic gardens and agricultural innovation. The ecologically protected area of Mil Cumbres, orchid gardens, and Zapata Peninsula’s 1,000 plant species await you! Contact Holbrook Travel at 800.451.7111 to reserve your space today!

Flyer with detailed itinerary

Reservation form and terms

Holbrook Travel logo




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

Bioblitz 2011: update

October 11th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

With a little over a week away from Bioblitz 2011, the various taxa teams are starting to form, but we still need eyes, ears and hands in the field!  Below please find a new schedule of when we’ll be looking for what. To sign up and join in the fun, contact Patrick Mulligan at simsigan@uw.edu or call 206-543-8801 and talk to Lisa Sanphillipo.

Space is limited; first come, first serve!

All teams will depart from the greenhouse (a.k.a. “Science Central”) near the Graham Visitors Center.  Participants must sign a waiver, so please come a little early and dress appropriately!

Friday, October 21

3:00 – 5:30 PM Birds Plants Mammals

5:30 – 7:00 PM

dinner; ecology presentation by UW Ph.D. student Rachel Mitchell

7:00 – 9:00 PM

Mammals (by kayak)

Night-time Insects

9:00 – 11:00 PM “Owl Prowl”


Saturday, October 22

7:00 – 9:00 AM Birds (by land)

Birds (by kayak)


9:00 – 11:30 AM




12:00 – 2:30 PM Plants Fungi Mammals
2:30 – 3:00 PM

Show & Tell



October Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

October 10th, 2011 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

1) Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for October 2011
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (October 3 – 16, 2011)
  •  Evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean and southwest Ireland, specifically the islands
    and shores of the Lakes of Killarney, where it attains its largest (40 ft. or more in height)
  • The flowers of A. unedo arrive late in the season, and are followed by the globose
    strawberry-like fruits that are orange-red in color.
  • This specimen is located near the Graham Visitors Center between the courtyard and parking

2) Euonymus hamiltonianus ssp. sieboldianus

  • Commonly known as “spindle” trees, members of the genus Euonymus are mostly tree-like
    deciduous shrubs native to Asia. They are cultivated not for their flowers, but for their
    beautiful fruits, which split open in the fall to reveal colored seeds and seed coats (arils),
    adding to the effect when the cells burst. The almost spherical pink fruits of this specimen
    contain blood-red seeds with orange arils.
  • Located in the Pinetum, just south of the footbridge.

3) Mespilus germanica ‘Macrocarpa’ (Open-arse)

  • The only species of its genus, M. germanica is a low deciduous tree of crooked habit.  The
    five-celled fruits are apple-shaped and brown and when ripe, yield a mushy sauce which could
    seemingly explain the European vernacular given to this tree.  Located in the Holly wedge
    across the Boulevard from the Boyer Lot, this specimen sometimes flowers again in early
    October, adding to its uniqueness.

4) Pyracantha coccinea (Scarlet firethorn)

  • Dense, thorny shrub with bright berries. Located along Arboretum Drive, just north of
    Crabapple Meadow.

5) Viburnum opulus (European cranberry bush)

  • Deciduous shrub with maple-like leaves and bright red fruit.  Located within the Viburnum

CUH Update: The Autumn Approach

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

After a nonexistent summer, we’re now charging forward and anticipating the return of rain and cooler temperatures, the shorter days, and all the fall tasks that seem to just ramp up without warning.

Autumn can be a mesmerizing time of year as many plants, particularly in the Soest Perennial Display Garden, have reached their full potential in growth and in many cases, abundant bloom. There’s indication of fall color all around (check out this month’s Plant Profile selection) and the last thrust of blooms being encouraged from slightly tender plants such as the dahlias, salvias, and agapanthus make for a tremendous show. The ornamenntal grasses are beginning to turn color as well as infloresences beginning to show creating a wonderfully diverse and complimentary foil to the landscape.

Our Plant Pick for the month of October: Vitis coignetiae the Crimson Glory Vine.

Fall is also the time to get one last mow of the lawn and then fertilize it. A major tree removal is on the task list this fall/winter (read about it here).We’ve also got a few planting areas that need to be prepared and hopefully installed this autumn and spring. It will be a very busy fall. We just pray that the weather cooperates when we have these large tasks to take on.



Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' with Dahlia 'Bishop of York' with giant feather grass (Stipa gigantea) in the background.

October 2011 Plant Profile: Vitis coignetiae

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Vitis coignetiae

Another woody plant has captured our attention this month and is deserving of this autumn highlight and that’s the Crimson Glory Vine.

While most grapes are fruiting now and express some fall color, this outstandingly large and colorful vine is mesmerizing to see especially when back lit by the western exposure of the sun. A entire kaleidoscope of rich purples, bright crimsons, yellow, reds and oranges along with the aging green is a sight to see.


It is readily available and fairly easy to care for. It requires full sun, but can tolerate part shade, and moderate irrigation. It also requires quite a bit of space, but responds pretty well to pruning in mid-summer to control its size and habit on a trellis or similar structure.

Common Name: Crimson Glory Vine
Family: Vitaceae
Location: North of Merrill Hall and South of Issacson Hall on trellises
Origin: Russia, Korea, and Japan
Height and spread: 20-30ft. +
Bloom Time: Early June
Bloom Type/Color/Fruit: Almost inconspicuous racemes with small white lowers later forming into chalking purple blue fruit that are slightly bitter and tart with prominent seeds.

Notice of Garden Renovation: Soest Garden Specimen Tree

October 4th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Our Persian Ironwood tree slated to be replaced later this fall/winter

So after 13 years in the same raised bed, it’s time that one of our Persian Ironwood trees (Parrotia persica) be removed and replaced with another species.

It was suggested that every ten years or so, the specimen tree would be changed out to showcase different species that could be utilized to create the part shade environment intended for the perennials planted below. There’s also concern that a mature tree’s roots could damage the concrete wall if allowed to get large.

After leaf-drop this fall/winter, we will close off the Soest Garden for a day or so and have the tree removed. Some of the soil will be replace (and perennials moved temporarily, of course) and our new tree, a American smoke tree Continus obovatus, will be planted.

We will begin digging up perennials shortly and keeping them in the nursery until they can be replanted in the same bed. Signs will be posted describing the project and further notice will be made when the date of renovation is determined.

CUH Grounds Staff

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

October 3rd, 2011 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Species of Sorbus are commonly known as whitebeam, rowan, service tree, and mountain ash. All these cuttings are from the Brian Mulligan Sorbus Collection, located to the east of Arboretum Drive across from the Magnolia Collection.

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for September 19-October 3, 2011

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (September 19 – October 3, 2011)

1) Sorbus aucuparia (European Rowan)

  • Sorbus aucuparia is native to most of Europe except for the far south, and northern Asia.
  • It is listed as a ‘Weed of Concern’ by the King County Noxious Weed Board because of its propensity to spread seeds far and wide via birds.
  • This specimen was collected from the last remaining Sorbus aucuparia, which fell over during the past weekend.

2) Sorbus commixta (Japanese Rowan)

  • Sorbus commixta is a species of rowan native to Japan, the far east of Russia on Sakhalin, and in Korea on the island of Ulleungdo.
  • Performs very well in the Pacific Northwest, producing large crops of berries.
  • While unappetizing to humans, birds (especially robins) can denude a tree of berries in a day.

3) Sorbus prattii

  • Sorbus prattii is a Chinese rowan bearing small corymbs of white flowers in late spring followed by green berries that ripen to white.

4) Sorbus tamamschjanae

  • A little known red-berried, simple-leafed Rowan from Armenia.

5) Sorbus vestita (Himalayan Whitebeam)

  • Broad and conical tree with sharply toothed leaves, that has corymbs of white flowers that bloom in late spring followed by yellowish-green berries with brown freckles.