Take a Halloween walk in a cemetery

September 29th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

Ghosts and Goblins in a cemetery for Hallowe’en?

lichen on a tombstone photo by bert23.com

Why not consider lichens as an alternative?  Lichens are friendly and interesting organisms that love to grow on headstones and old trees.  Cemeteries can take on new meaning as a fun place to observe a symbiotic organism made up of a fungus and algae.  You will also learn about common lichens found in an urban environment and take home a user-friendly chart that lists lichens found in your neighborhood.

Always wondered about what lichens are and why they are found on your trees and Rhododendrons?  Lichens are harmless to your plants and add aesthetic value to trees and shrubs.  We can actually use them as indicators of air pollution!  Join Dr. Katherine Glew and the Center for Urban Horticulture on Saturday, October 27 to get a head start on learning lichens from your local cemetery.  You can enjoy Hallowe’en looking for lichens rather that scary witches and pumpkin heads.

Cost: $25; $30 after October 24.


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

September 28th, 2012 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (September 24-October 8, 2012)

1)   Acer diabolicum  (Horned Maple)

  • This maple is one of the least ornamental of the native maples of Japan.
  • It is named for the tiny horn-like appendages between the winged seeds.
  • Ours is growing beside the Japanese Garden parking lot.

2)   Koelreuteria bipinnata

  • Named after a German professor of botany, J.G. Koelreuter (1733-1806), it is impossible for English speakers to pronounce.
  • K. bipinnata is blooming now, but the more common K. paniculata is bearing its conspicuous inflated seed pods.
  • Both species are located opposite Arboretum Drive on Foster Island Road.

3)  Pterocarya stenoptera  (Chinese wingnut)

  • The Latin name literally means “narrow-winged wingnut”.
  • A relative of walnuts and hickories, it is growing near them in 29-2W along Azalea Way.

4)  Pterostyrax hispida  (Epaulette Tree)

  • Long panicles of spring flowers become chains of bristly (hence “hispida”) seeds.
  • Native to China and Japan.
  • The best examples in the Arboretum are along the east fence (9 and 10-7E).

5)  Vitex agnus-castus  (Chaste Tree)

  • A shrub native to Mediterranean regions and southwest and central Asia.
  • The Vitex genus includes large tropical and sub-tropical timber trees.
  • In the Arboretum, it is located just south of the Woodland Garden pond on Azalea Way.  A
    white form is 100 feet north.

Paths II: The Music of Trees now playing

September 25th, 2012 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

We’ve been closely following the progress of Abby Aresty’s “Music of Trees” project, a sound installation project in the Arbortetum. We’re pleased to report that the installation is up and running. Aresty describes the project as “a series of sound installations that explore the layers and permutations of acoustic space in seven sites throughout Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum. Each installation creates a sonic dialogue with its acoustic and physical space. The striking forms of the trees and plants, as well as their relationship to the surrounding environments, provide a unique opportunity for the artistic and physical exploration of sound in space.” 

The installation will be running in October on Wednesdays from 3 to 6pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am – 1:30 pm throughout October.

Abby in the media

Click this trail map to learn the location to Music of Trees.

September Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

September 16th, 2012 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

“Ornamental Late Summer Fruits”

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (September 10-14, 2012)

1)  Betula lenta  (Sweet Birch)

  • The fruit, maturing in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.
  • Twigs, when scraped, have a strong scent of oil of wintergreen.
  • Several specimens are located east of Azalea Way bordering the wetland bog.

2)  Liriodendron tulipifera  (Tulip Tree)

  • The fruit is a cone, two to three inches long, made of a great number of thin narrow scales attached to a common axis. These scales are each a carpel surrounded by a thin membranous ring.
  • Another eastern North American tree which is also considered the tallest deciduous angiosperm in the world.
  • A mature grove is located in our Magnolia Collection.

3)  Magnolia sieboldii  (Oyama Magnolia)

  • The ornamental three-inch-long carmine fruit dangles off the tree, and eventually busts open to reveal orange “alien” seeds from “outer space”.  The fruit are oval in shape and have little spine-like points that create an interesting texture.
  • Shrub native to eastern Asia in China, Japan, and Korea.
  • Located just outside the west entrance to the Graham Visitor Center.

4)  Ostrya carpinifolia  (Hop Hornbeam)

  • The fruit form in pendulous clusters, 3-8 cm. long with 6–20 seeds; each seed is a small nut 2–4 mm. long, fully enclosed in a bladder-like involucre.
  • Small tree native to Europe.
  • Specimen is located in Hornbeam section, just past the Broadmoor service entrance on Foster Island Road.

5)  Styrax japonicus  (Japanese Silverbell)

  • The fruit is an oblong dry drupe, smooth and lacking ribs or narrow wings, unlike the fruit of the related snowdrop trees (Halesia) and epaulette trees.
  • Mature specimens may be found half-way down Azalea Way on the west side.

Explore Ecuador & Galapagos: UWBG Study Tour

September 12th, 2012 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director

We are pleased to announce a UWBG trip to the place where Darwin first developed his ideas about evolution – the Galápagos Islands and Ecuador.

Photo credit: Claudiah

Photo credit: Claudiah

Join Director Sarah Reichard for a trip June 5-19, 2013, as we explore the Quito Botanical Garden, hike trails in the Amazon, and explore the Galápagos Islands on a yacht. We will see the birds and tortoises that inspired Darwin and climb the volcanoes of the Islands. For more information review the itinerary . To sign up for the trip or to receive more information,  you can register at Holbrook Travel. The deadline for booking the trip has been extended until all spaces on the tour boat are filled.

A portion of the tour fee is a tax-deductible donation to the Education program at UWBG.

Mockingbird photo by Reinier Munguia

Sea lion by Reinier Munguia

Pinnacle Rock photo by Reinier Munguia

Wanted: Volunteer Garden Guides for Saplings

September 11th, 2012 by Lisa Sanphillippo

This could be you!

This could be you!

If you enjoy being outdoors, teaching and learning about plants of the Arboretum, and you like working with school aged children then you might be a Saplings Garden Guide!

Our fall season begins in just a few short weeks and we have field trips booked! Apply here today to be a Saplings Garden Guide. Our volunteers receive free training, on-going enrichments and opportunities for further learning.

For questions or more information, contact Lisa Sanphillippo: lsanphil@uw.edu or 206-543-8801.

Let’s work together to engage children in nature.

Trees are showing off their fall bounty

September 9th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

These 3-parted pods contain the seeds of the Koelreuteria paniculata or Golden Rain Tree. This tree is native to East Asia, China & Korea and is used as an ornamental for its flowers, leaves and seed pods. Although it is considered an invasive in the SE United States. The Arboretum’s free Sunday walks for the month of September will feature the “Fruits & Nuts” of this tree and many others in the collection. Come on our free walk with a knowledgeable guide – every Sunday, 1:00 pm at the Graham Visitors Center

Cuba Tour Planned for Feb. 2013

September 7th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

In early 2012, UWBG led its first trip to Cuba. Director Sarah Reichard, the leader, blogged about the fascinating and sometimes perplexing world they encountered.
Cuba by Barbara Wright - iSustain We hope to do a similar trip in 2013, although it pending the renewal of our license to travel to Cuba. Because the license has expired, we cannot take deposits at this time, but if you are interested in being notified when the license is approved, please contact Sarah at reichard@uw.edu. The complete itinerary is available for review.


Mil Cumbres photo

Our guide leans against the very rare Microcycas calocoma

We Have Winners!

September 6th, 2012 by Lisa Sanphillippo

The UWBG Kids Digital Photography Contest was a complete success! We had 12 entries, ranging from ages 7 to 16, who submitted some really incredible artwork.

At least one photo of every contestant is displayed at Fuel Coffee on 24th Ave in the Montlake neighborhood.

You can also view all of the photographs on Flickr.

You will note that at both locations we have displayed photographs taken by our Art in the Park Summer Camp kids. Their photos were inspired by their study of Ansel Adams and Andrew Goldsworthy.

And now for our winners – drum roll, please! Congratulations to Srija, Cooper, Teagan and Annie!

September 2012 Plant Profile: Hesperantha (Schizostylis) coccinea

September 5th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

This delightful, but seldom grown corm from South Africa is looking the best its ever looked in the Soest Garden here at the Center for Urban Horticulture.  It has been in bloom since early July and there are more buds to come as this particular species is known for its late summer/autumn flowering, which is always quite valuable in the landscape as fall rolls around.

It’s still commonly known as Schizostylis in the trade (Pronounced “Skizo-sty-lis” OR “shizaw-stalis”), but Hesperantha is the correct name. It’s in the Iris family and related to the similar looking Gladiolus, Crocosmia, and Freesia. This particular selection is a lovely one called ‘Torero’, which was developed in Oregon.


It prefers moist, but well draining garden soil and full sun. It is absolutely spectacular amongst ornamental grasses and a mature clump can remain in bloom from late summer and sometimes sporadically into the winter depending on how severe our cold weather is here in the Pacific Northwest.

Common Name: Cape Lily, Crimson Flag
Location: Soest Garden Bed 6
Origin: Dwarf selections are of garden origin.
Height and spread: 1.5-2ft. tall and about 3ft. wide on mature clumps.
Bloom Time: Late Summer into Autumn and sometimes into Winter.