June 2012 Plant Profile: Gentiana x ‘True Blue’

June 7th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Blue is such an elusive color in the floral kingdom and it’s no wonder that people are captivated by any flower that’s blue. Sadly, flowers that aren’t naturally blue have been artificially dyed in order to sell, but this month’s Plant Profile highlights a genus that’s known for its natural blue flowers and that’s the Gentian.

Many Gentians are alpine/sub-alpine  herbaceous perennials. Species require very specific watering, soil types and exposure. There was great excitement when this hybrid was released as not only were they able to capture the purest blue of a Gentian, they developed a garden-worthy plant that’s adaptable to most home gardens. It was aptly named ‘True Blue’.

This plant is spending its third year here at CUH and it’s been moved quite a bit, but it overwintered beautifully this past winter and, with luck, it will bulk up with more of these ethereal blue blossoms that are capable of blooming on and off throughout the summer.

Common Name: True Blue Gentian
Location: CUH-Soest Garden Bed 6 (just behind signage)
Origin: Garden Origin
Height and spread: 25-30″ high and about 18″ wide.
Bloom Time: Early Summer through Mid-Autumn.

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Rhododendrons in bloom – Everywhere!

June 4th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

Walking through the arboretum’s forested middle area, one is greeted with bursts of color on the hybrid Rhododendrons in our collection. Within this forest understory are many of the almost 1800 Rhododendron species and hybrids in the collection. Its cool and green and quiet on these forested paths, a lovely walk on any day, but this time of year the added beauty of the Rhody flowers is a seasonal treat.
Or if you prefer to be out in the open, take a walk along Azalea Way where hundreds of shrubs blossom along it’s borders. My favorites, the deciduous Azaleas, are at their peak right now. Their variety of colors in citrus shades which complement and contrast each other is stunning.

 

For more information on our Rhododendrons on this web site go to: Home, Gardens, then click ‘plant collections’ in left column under Washington Park Arboretum.
For list of all Rhododendron species in the arboretum collection on this web site go to: Home, Gardens, Living Plant Collection and search under ‘Rhododenron’.    Catherine Nelson

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Aspiring Plant Geek

June 1st, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

posted on behalf of UW Student and Arboretum volunteer extraordinaire, Lora Mitchell

Aspiring Plant Geek, Lora Mitchell

This quarter I signed up for an environmental studies course that offered service learning. Upon first learning about the service learning program I was intrigued, but slightly hesitant until I saw a position at the Washington State Arboretum. Thrilled at the idea of working with plants the entire quarter I immediately signed up for that position. You see, I’m a biology major who also happened to be talking a lant identification course this quarter as well. I figured working at the arboretum would not only be a great experience in it of itself, but it could also help me learn plant families. My job consisted of making plant ID sheets and eventually tweeting about current plants in bloom around the arboretum. With summer around the corner, being able to walk along hidden paths throughout the arboretum discovering plants I had never heard of or seen before was amazing. Informing the community about native plants is important in building a sustainable future. Some of my favorite discoveries include…

Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata)

The beautiful Dove Tree, part of the family Cornaceae (Dogwoods) was in bloom on my last visit to the arboretum. When first seeing this plant I initially thought it to be a magnolia, but after learning its name discovered it’s actually part of the dogwood family.

Now,  Magnolia sinensis is one of the most beautiful magnolias I had ever seen. It is endemic, or restricted to, China and is being threatened by habitat loss.

 

 

 

The Golden English Oak (Quercus robur ‘Concordia’) glistens in the sun, making it hard not to notice. Native to Europe, with bright golden-yellow leaves, this tree made me stop in my tracks. On that beautiful May afternoon I stood for a while and looked in awe.

Overall, I have enjoyed my experience at the Arboretum this spring quarter. I have learned a lot more about various plants and will definitely make a habit of stopping by from time to just to look around. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to help during the summer.

 

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