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

April 30th, 2012 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (April 23, 2012 - May 6, 2012)

1)  Azara lanceolata

  • An evergreen shrub with arching branches and lance-shaped leaves, A. lanceolata bears clustered yellow flowers in mid to late spring. Native to South America, Azaras is a genus of 10 species within the family, Flacourtiaceae.
  • Located in the double lot on the east side of Arboretum Drive.

2)  Cercis siliquastrum   (Judas-tree)

  • A deciduous tree usually of low, bushy habit, C. siliquastrum forms magenta-colored flower clusters before and with the leaves, and often on the main branches.
  • The popular name of Judas-tree is derived from the legend that this was the tree upon which Judas hanged himself after the great Betrayal.
  • Located along Arboretum Drive near the Rock Roses.

3)  Citrus trifoliata

  • Native to Northern China and Korea, C. trifoliata is a deciduous shrub armed with sharp spines along rigid green shoots. Solitary, fragrant white flowers are borne in late spring, and often again in autumn.
  • Located west of Azalea Way near the Boyer parking lot.

4)  Fothergilla major

  • Erect terminal spikes of fragrant white flowers give this upright shrub a charming quality during the spring season.
  • Native to the Allegheny Mountains, from Virginia to South Carolina.
  • This specimen is located near the ongoing Pacific Connections Gardens Project, east of Arboretum Drive.

5)  Malus ‘Makamik’
As with many of our flowering crabapples, M. ‘Makamik’ is currently showing off its clustered pink to purple blossoms.

  • Conveniently located within Crabapple Meadow, east of Arboretum Drive.

Register Now for Arboretum Summer Camps

April 29th, 2012 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

During the Seattle Public Schools’ Spring Break week, the Washington Park Arboretum hosted a spring-themed camp program for ten students in 1st-5th grade. Scroll through these photos and captions to see how much fun we had and how much fun YOU could have at our Summer Camps this summer!

On the first day of camp the students came up with our team name – The Buzzing Bees. We did lots of bzzzzzing during the week and there was a bee-themed mural made to honor our team name.

A pair of campers play Meet-A-Tree. The blindfolded child is getting to know his tree with all of his senses – here he is licking the tree (DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME:)! His partner is waiting until he feels like he knows his tree well enough to find it later. She will walk him (blindfolded) back to the starting spot, making sure to take a new path. There she will take off his blindfold and he will have to find his tree!

One day we made an edible salad from native plants. The campers all proclaimed that they do not like salad so we came up with two new names – Wild Greens and Garden Yum! The concoction consisted of wood sorrel, big-leaf maple flower buds, salmon berry flowers, red huckleberry flowers, and dandilion flowers and leaves. We also made teas during the week from stinging nettle, the western hemlock tree and western red cedar.



On Monday we worked as a team to do the Bird-Themed Scavenger Hunt, which took us through the wetland area in search of birds with informational tags on them. We sucessfully found all the birds and cracked the code! At the tip of foster island we took a break in the sun to make daisy chains, explore the water’s edge and do a WAM (Water Appreciation Moment – someone says something they are thankful for and we all take a big sip of water).

We also made some time to let free giggles and energy while playing tail tag! Everyone has a tail and the objective is to steal as many tails as you can without having your own tail stolen.

Wednesday was our water day – we visited the two woodland ponds to see what’s in them. We brought along some tools: small and large dipping nets, white-bottomed trays, pipettes, and field guides. It’s still early spring, but we did find a variety of egg sacs, an aquatic earthworm, a snail shell, mosquito larve and a water strider.

It’s the time of year to plant and prep gardens for a full season of growing food. We grow vegetables in garden beds behind our greenhouse to use during summer camp. Spring break campers helped us out by weeding the beds and planting kale and lettuce starts. They also painted a pot and planted seeds in it to take home, and made mosaic garden tiles to either put in our garden or take home.

Missed Spring Break Camp? Check out our Summer Camps – they’re filling quickly!

Update on the Music of Trees project

April 24th, 2012 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

Last winter we told you about Abby Aresty, a Seattle-based composer,  sound artist and UW doctoral student in music, who was raising money for a sound installation in the Washington Park Arboretum. She has since met her fundraising goal, and is hard at work recording sounds in the arbortetum. “Through detailed analysis and sonic manipulation, these simultaneous yet distinct layers of sound will be brought into dialogue with one another. The music will then be brought back to the original sites and played back softly through small speakers attached to the trees.” The installation is scheudled to run for 6-8 weeks this fall, and will be free to the public. Visit the project website to learn more, and follow Abby’s progress on her blog.

Native Camas in bloom

April 24th, 2012 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

Did you know that the Camas bulb with its stunning blue and purple star-shaped flowers is native to the western US?

We recently spotted some Camas in bloom in the Union Bay Natural Area near parking lot E5. Go have a look!

FlorAbundance: Seattle’s best plant sale moves back to the Arboretum

April 17th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

photoIf you only make it to one plant sale this spring be sure not to miss FlorAbundance held on April 28th and 29 at the Washington Park Arboretum. The Arboretum Foundation, with many, many volunteers organize and host the sale that features dozens of specialty nursery vendors and expert help from the King County Master Gardeners.

Complete information on the Arboretum Foundation site.

Bird-Themed Scavenger Hunt at the Arboretum – April 14-22

April 13th, 2012 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Come learn about local birds and the plants that attract them. Crack the code and receive a prize!  Two scavenger hunts are available: 8 and under; 9 and over. Pick up your scavenger sheet at the Graham Visitor Center (GVC) between 10am and 4pm or print them from these links:

Spring Scavenger Hunt – 8 and under

Spring Scavenger Hunt – 9 and over


If you come when the GVC is closed there is a blue folder located to the side of the front door with clue sheets inside.

Hidden throughout the Arboretum wetlands are birds and laminated cards clipped to trees, shrubs and benches waiting for you to find them. When you do, leave them where they are, but use their secret letters to fill the blanks and crack the code.

Return your sheet to the visitor center or mail them to us and we will mail you a prize! Good luck, have fun and Happy Spring!

If you have a smart phone there will be QR codes you can scan along the way for more facts on the birds and plants you will be visiting.

April Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

April 11th, 2012 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum for April 9-23, 2012

1) Camellia japonica ‘Drama Girl’

  • Hybridized in 1950, this winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit has very large, semi-double, deep salmon rose pink flowers.
  • Located in the Camellia Collection on the east side of Arboretum Drive.

2) Ilex aquifolium ‘Ferox Argentea’ (Hedgehog Holly)

  • This holly is a large, bushy evergreen shrub with small, spiny leaves whose upper surfaces as well as the margins are broadly-edged with creamy white.
  • This male clone produces no berries, and is not invasive like other English holly varieties are.
  • Located near Boyer Ave. in the Holly Collection.

3) Pieris japonica ‘Crispa’

  • This plant has the early spectacular flowers of Pieris, with the added bonus of unusual crinkled leaves, and a somewhat more compact growth.
  • Located in Rhododendron Glen, above the Upper Pond.

4) Rhododenron ‘Ibex’

  • A striking red, early flowering Rhododendron.
  • Hybridized in 1941 by Leopold de Rothschild, an English banker and conservative politician best remembered as the creator of Exbury Gardens.
  • Located on the Upper Trail, across from the Magnolia Collection.

5) Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry)

  • A species of Rubus native to the western coast of North America from west central Alaska to California.
  • Salmonberries were an important food for indigenous peoples. Traditionally, the berries were eaten with salmon or mixed with oolichan (a Pacific smelt) grease or salmon roe.
  • An important part of our native matrix, and can be found throughout the Arboretum.

Travels to Cuba – Reflections on a Resilient Country

April 11th, 2012 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director

A tobacco worker takes a break by a curing shed. Photo by Stephen Wescott

We have been back from Cuba for about a month and I am still sorting it out in my head. As I said before, it is a far more complicated place than I expected to find. My fellow adventurers continue to email new articles and books they are finding about Cuba, suggesting that they also are trying to reconcile what we experienced.

What do I mean? Well, for starters, this is a communist country, right? I am not a terribly political person, but my understanding of communism is that the state owns everything, and the state redistributes the wealth. People work for the state and the state provides for their needs. That might work IF there is wealth. But what if the country is not wealthy, has few lucrative exports, is relatively small, and has 11 million citizens? Then the wealth that is redistributed to the many citizens is insufficient to support their basic needs. Oh, but what if there is another communist country that is able to provide support, especially when the first country is strategically located near the second country’s greatest enemy? That can work! But then the first country relies on the second country, and when IT then experiences problems…the first country is last in line for the support. When the Soviet Union collapsed, that prop was gone and Cuba crashed into its “Special Period,” which is a strange way of labeling a time when people were starving. In more recent times, Venezuela and China have helped, but clearly this is not a sustainable solution.

Many people will cite the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba as the source of the problems. While that has certainly not helped the Cuban economy, they do have other trading partners and they do, actually, receive imports from the U.S. – one report claims that the U.S. is the 5th largest exporter to Cuba. One Cuban tourism professional we talked with said that the embargo should be lifted, but a lift of travel restrictions would do more to help the average Cuban.


A driver leans on his taxi. Photo by Stephen Wescott

The increase in tourism is helping. We found ourselves tipping everyone, including professionals such as architects and biologists for the park system. It felt strange to be tipping people I consider my peers, and it may have been strange for them to be accepting them, but it is survival. I have been told that professionals such as doctors and biologists are giving up their jobs to drive taxis, to enable them to get tips from tourists. The more recent ability to take in paying guests into homes, or open private restaurants is an acknowledgement that the state payments to their workers is insufficient to sustain them.

The Cubans we met were very friendly and happy to see Americans. Martha was greeted warmly by this cigar salesman. Photo courtesy of Martha Clatterbaugh

Despite their at least implicit acknowledgement that the current system does not work, the people we talked with about these subjects are very resistant to any sort of outside interference. After learning more about the Bay of Pigs incident, I can completely understand it. But without a free press, how do you know what is inside, and what is outside, interference? For instance, our guide, Frank, was very adamant that a well-known dissident blogger from Cuba was supported by Cuban exiles’ (so now American) money and therefore suspect. When I asked him how, without a free press, he could be sure of that, he sort of admitted that he couldn’t.



Get Your Hands Dirty this Earth Day

April 7th, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

Join the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG), and Seattle Parks and Recreation for a day of fun service projects at the Washington Park Arboretum.

When: Saturday, April 14, 2012. 9:00am – 2:00pm

Where: Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Drive E, Seattle 98112. (Meet in the Meadow—a 5 minute walk south of the Graham Visitors Center.)

What to bring: water bottle, sack lunch, travel mug for a hot drink, sunscreen, rain gear, long pants, layers of clothing, and boots. Some snacks & drinks will be provided. Tools, gloves, snacks, environmental education, and project materials will be provided.

Student volunteers having fun spreading mulch at the Arboretum at a previous Earth Day event.


For more information and to register, visit thesca.org/seattle, email wanw@thesca.org or call 206.324.4649

Printable Flyer 

Map of project locations at Washington Park Arboretum

In partnership with the Seattle Parks and Recreation, UW Botanic Gardens and Woodland Park Zoo.

Earth Day for the Whole Family!

April 3rd, 2012 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Celebrate Earth Day at the Arboretum on April 22nd from 10am-12pm!

Washington Park Arboretum and Wilderness Awareness School have teamed up to offer a family-friendly Earth Day event. Bring your family, bring your friends and come celebrate the earth, play games, do a small service project and eat yummy earth snacks.