What does the Arboretum sound like?

December 22nd, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

Abby Aresty photoSeattle-based composer,  sound artist and UW doctoral student in music Abby Aresty has designed an amazing sound installation for the Washington Park Arboretum planned for autumn 2012. But she needs to raise more money for equipment to build the installation. Abby describes the public art project on the fund raising site KickStarter where backers can donate cash in any amount. But there’s a catch. Abby must raise the $8,000 she needs by February 14th. Funding through KickStarter is all or nothing. If the full amount is not raised by the deadline then the artist receives nothing and the donors are not charged.

Please help Abby realize her vision, become a backer today!

Follow Abby’s progress in her Blog

Hear Abby explain her vision for Path II: The Music of Trees

CUH Update – December 2011: New Garden Features & Season’s Greetings

December 21st, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

It has been an incredibly busy autumn here at CUH as we have several new projects underway. Our entire horticultural team has been involved with 2 major projects we’d like to highlight as these are pretty significant changes that might raise a few eyebrows.

Soest Garden by R. Reyes

new tree photo

Earlier this autumn, our arborist crew took down a large specimen of Parrotia persica that’s been growing in a raised planter in the Orin and Althea Soest Herbaceous Perennial Garden. You can read our notice about it from a few weeks ago.



If you’ve visited UWBG-CUH in the last two weeks or so, you probably couldn’t help but notice a small broadleaf evergreen tree standing by itself on a “pedestal” with soil excavated from it. This is the first phase of what should be an extravagant perennial border to be design, planted and maintained by the Hardy Plant Society of Washington. HPSW and UWBG have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and we’re moving forward to assist them in preparing the site. The first step was to remove as much of the existing soil as possible to help eradicate the horrendous horsetail that has inhabited the bed after years of mediocre maintenance as this section of CUH has always been a low priority, yet it’s really our front door. We are ecstatic to have a group that can take this on (and also take over the Blooms of Bressingham evaluation program and its maintenance.

It will be awhile before both these projects really come into their own, but because we are the CENTER for urban horticulture, we will aim to provide our visitors with ongoing interest, color and at this time of year, festive decor such as our lovely Christmas tree donated by City People’s Garden Store and decorated by one of our many generous supporters, Charlotte Behnke and our containers in the Seattle Garden Clubs’s Fragrance Garden where members flanked containers with scented pansies and primoses accented with bright gold sweet flag grass.

On behalf of the UWBG staff, we want to wish you Season’s Greetings and a very Happy Holidays and may the upcoming year bring with it much joy, good health and, hopefully, more frequent visits to our gardens!



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

December 19th, 2011 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for the 2nd half of December 2011

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (December 12 - 26, 2011)

1)  Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’
(Midwinter Fire Dogwood)

  • Perhaps the first dogwood to show its bright winter stems, Midwinter Fire will continue to be the show-stopper of the twig bed until dressed in leaves again.
  • You will have no trouble finding this shrub in the Witt Winter Garden.

2)  Euonymus myrianthus   (Spindle Tree)

  • This bushy, evergreen shrub has bright orange-yellow fruit which split open to reveal the showy red arils of the seeds.
  • This spindle tree is native to China and is growing among our Asiatic Maples.

3)  Salix irrorata   (Bluestem, Sandbar Willow)

  • This upright shrub from the southwest U.S. has purple to lavender shoots, which have a white bloom in the winter.
  • This willow is coppiced each year to maximize its showy shoots.

4)  Thujopsis dolobrata   (Hiba Cedar)

  • This beautiful cedar is native to Japan.
  • The foliage is similar to our native Thuja, but larger and more lustrous with distinctive white
    markings on the undersides.
  • We have a young specimen in the Woodland Garden and a T.d. var. hondai at the very south end of Azalea Way.

5)  Vaccinium uliginosum ssp. occidentale   (Western Bog Blueberry)

  • The western bog blueberry grows in wet conditions in alpine or cold weather regions including tundra, where it is a major food source for wildlife such as grouse, caribou and bears.
  • The leaves of bog blueberry can accumulate heavy metals without harm to the plant, making it valuable in mine prospecting and reclamation.
  • A fine specimen is located at the south end of our Asiatic Maple collection.

December 2011 Plant Profile: Ilex x koehneana

December 16th, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

UWBG has the one of the largest Holly collections in North America and this particular hybrid tends to get by unnoticed until one actually gets up close to admire its bold presence as a broadleaf evergreen shrub. It almost looks like a magnolia or something from the tropics, but it’s perfectly hardly for us here in the Pacific Northwest.

This Ilex is a hybrid between the common I. aquifolium (English Holly) and I. latifolia (Lusterleaf Holly). It does not reseed itself prolifically like English Holly and makes a stately background plant that has endured poor soil, limited irrigation, and is likely to thrive in both sun and part shade.

Common Name: Koehne Holly
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Location: Soest Garden South Slope
Origin: Garden
Height and spread: 15-20ft. high and 10-15ft. wide. Various cultivars exist that are shorter or taller.
Bloom Time: Late spring
Bloom Type/Color/Fruit: Dioecious, white flowers followed by red drupes in autumn/winter on current year’s wood.

UWBG Gift Certificates make great gifts

December 9th, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin
A. Rubin photo

Landscape tree identification is one of many classes offered by UWBG.

Holiday shopping got you stressed? Look no farther than UWBG! Gift certificates are now available for classes such as landscape design and mosaic art techniques. Gift certificates are offered in $25, $50 and $100 values and may be purchased by telephone at 206-685-8033.

Other gift ideas for garden or nature lovers available for purchase that benefits programs at the UW Botanic Gardens:

December Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

December 6th, 2011 by Pat Chinn-Sloan
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for December 2011

Selected Cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (November 28 - December 12, 2011)

1) Cedrus libani ssp. atlantica ‘Glauca’ (Blue Atlas Cedar)

  • This native of the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco is now placed in the same species as the “Cedar of Lebanon”.
  • Two beautiful specimens are located 38 and 39-6W at the Lynn Street entrance to the Arboretum.

2)  Juniperus virginiana  ‘Blue Coast’     (Red Cedar)

  • Though the species reaches over 100 feet, ‘Blue Coast’ is a shrubby cultivar.
  • Ours are located north of the crab apple trees in 34-6E.
  • Red Cedar (or Eastern Red Cedar if you are from the West) lent its name to the Cedar Waxwing and to Baton Rouge according to Arthur Lee Jacobson.

3)  Chamaecyparis thyoides     (Atlantic White Cedar)

  • Inhabits swamps on the U.S. East Coast.
  • Rarely seen in cultivation.
  • Our best specimens are in 28-3W, west of Azalea Way.

4)  Torreya taxifolia     (Stinking Cedar)

  • Torreya taxifolia is rare even in its very small natural range in southern Georgia and northern Florida where a fungal blight has nearly driven it to extinction.
  • The Arboretum has two specimens:  one at the east end of Loderi Valley (29-3E), the other in the cold frames south of the greenhouse.

5)  ????????????? nootkatensis     (Alaska Yellow Cedar)

  • Variously known as Cupressus (1824), Chamaecyparis (1841), Xanthocyparis (2002) and Callitropsis (2004).
  • Attaining great size and age, Yellow Cedar was one of the most important plants for the Northwest Coast First Peoples. It is still immensely popular as a landscape plant, especially in its weeping forms.
  • Many specimens are located in the Arboretum south of either end of the Wilcox Bridge and in 36-5E, south of the greenhouse.