Autumn is at its peak

October 26th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant


The Japanese maple collection in the arboretum boasts more than 90 different cultivars, many of which have been new plantings in the last few years.  This makes our collection one of the largest in the United States.  The Woodland Garden garden itself contains over 70 of these cultivars and the next couple of weeks is the time to see them in all their blazing glory.  The tree pictured is Acer palmatum, cultivar Osakazuki which is at the NE pathway into the Woodland Garden.  This photo does not do the vibrant red leaves justice, but this cultivar is considered to have the most intense crimson color of any of the maples.  It is a hardy grower which does not get much above 8′ tall even in extreme old age and has been listed in catalogs since the mid-1800s.


The name Osakazuki is a reference to its leaves which cup at the base, the literal translation is “saki-cup-like leaf.”

Please join one of our free weekend walks over the next couple weeks and view the amazing fall colors.   All tours meet at 1:00 pm, Sundays at the Graham Visitors Center.

Fall Flight: Migratory Birds – Family Ecology Tour 11/3 cancelled

October 24th, 2012 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Where are all the birds going? Birds spend the summer here and fly south for the winter. Others use our urban oasis as a stopping place on their way south. We’ll discover which birds are here to stay and which are on their way out or on their way through. Why do birds fly so far every year? What is their journey like? Together we’ll explore and discover the wonders of these winged adventurers.

Fall Flight – Migratory Birds for 6-12 year olds, 10am-12pm on November 3rd – Cancelled

All Family Ecology Tours include hands-on activities, games, and exploration for families with kids ages 6-12. Cost is $8/person, pre-register online or by phone, (206) 221-6427. Meet at the Graham Visitor Center and dress for the weather, we’ll be out rain or shine!

October Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

October 16th, 2012 by Pat Chinn-Sloan

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (10/8/12 - 10/21/12)

1)   Cotoneaster conspicuus

  • This showy member of the rose family is native to Tibet.
  • Like most other specimens of the genus Cotoneaster, C. conspicuus has an equally stunning, early summer display of white flowers.
  • C. conspicuus can be viewed along the north border of the Graham Visitor Center parking lot.

2)   Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’      Black Alder, Winterberry

  • Native to eastern North America, winterberry is an important winter food source for wildlife including raccoon, red squirrel, wood duck and ruffed grouse.
  • The cultivar ‘Winter Red’ produces intensely red berries that can last until spring.
  • I.v. ‘Winter Red’ can be seen just to the north of the Overlook Pond on Azalea Way.

3)   Pyracantha rogersiana ‘Flava’     Firethorn

  • Many firethorns are grown for their showy berries in fall, which can range from lemon-yellow to scarlet.
  • Pyracantha has traditionally been used as a decorative ornamental, as a pollen source for bees and for home security due to their vicious thorns.
  • Several firethorn species and cultivars can be seen along Arboretum Drive just south of the Graham Visitor Center.

4)   Sorbus cashmiriana       Kashmir Rowan

  • Native to the western Himalayas, this rowan bears corymbs of white flowers in late spring followed by pink-tinged white pommes.
  • Our Sorbus Collection is located on the east side of Arboretum Drive between Crabapple Meadow and our giant sequoia grove.

5)   Viburnum sp.

  • This Viburnum, which was collected in China, has yet to be identified to a species.
  • The tiny, brilliant red berries are unusual to the genus.
  • This Viburnum is located along Azalea Way near our Fraxinus (True Ash) Collection.

Looking for Autumn Color

October 13th, 2012 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

I walked through the arboretum this week looking for early fall color in the park. This Fothergilla major always seems to be one of our first color transformations and its brilliant  reds and oranges drew me to it as usual.

The Fothergilla major is a deciduous shrub native to the Southeastern U.S. where its common name is Witch Alder. Though not an alder, it is in the Hamamelidaceae family and, like its relative Witch Hazel, is a wonderful deciduous shrub for any garden.

Although the Japanese Maples are not quite turning as of this date, there is still great fall color to be seen in other trees like the Chestnut,Maples, Sumacs and others.
Our Free Weekend Walk topic from mid-October through at least mid-November will be on fall color.  Come on a tour and let us show you the Park in its autumn glory. Join us on any Sunday at 1pm in front of the Graham Visitors Center.


October 12th, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

This notice is to inform you that the following arboretum trees/UWBG plant collections are scheduled to be removed first half of October. All removals, including public safety and posting details, will be conducted in-house by the UWBG tree crew. 

  • Hazardous mature Fraxinus latifolia, Oregon ash, leaning over Interlaken Blvd in the Holly display
  • Standing dead UWBG plant collection #497-48-C, Cupressus arizonica var nevadensis, Arizona cypress, south Arboretum Dr, across from Pacific Connections – Siskiyou Slope
  • Standing dead UWBG plant collection # X-372-D, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana form, Port Orford, in the Pinetum. Cause: Phytophthora lateralis, systemic soil-borne disease
  • Standing dead UWBG plant collection, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Port Orford, in grove across from Graham Visitor Center. Cause: Phytophthora lateralis, systemic soil-borne disease 
  • Standing dead western hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla, located in Woodland Garden

Further questions or comments? Please contact David Zuckerman @ or call 543-8008.





Fieldtrips in Fall…

October 12th, 2012 by Lisa Sanphillippo

are going like gangbusters! Between the months of September and November, we have over 1300 kids signed up for fieldtrips.

Our guides have been loving the mild weather and teaching and learning from these budding naturalists. The Arboretum is such an amazing place to explore; all of the senses can be engaged, well, except for taste! Those of us in the field are so fortunate to be able to teach a variety of topics to kids based on what they are learning in class. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve done so far:

Plant Parts – kids act out each part and then work together to show how a tree’s parts function together to form a whole organism

Seed Dispersal – we go on a seed hunt, look at all of the seeds with magnifiers, then categorize each seed into methods of dispersal such as eaten by an animal, wind, water, propulsion, hitchhikers and fire

Native Plant Identification – we learn how to identify native plants and use artifacts made by Ethnobotanist, Heidi Bohan, to demonstrate how those plants can be used to help people thrive and survive

Producers, Consumers and Decomposers – kids learn that life can be grouped into these three main categories by playing a running game and observing, recording and organizing the organisms they find on a hike

Aquatic Dip – kids get to take a look at the aquatic macro-invertebrates that live in our very own Lake Washington and think about how these small creatures contribute to the overall health of a wetland ecosystem

Here are some of the things students have been saying about their time here at the Arboretum:

“I love it here at the Auditorium.”

[I overheard two kids talking to each other on our walk]

“I wish we could come every week.” “I wish we could come here everyday!”

[At the end of the field trip, we ask the students what they liked or learned, here’s a few quotes]

“I like when you gave us 2 minutes of free style!”

“I liked looking at spiders.”

“I liked looking at all of the trees.”

Here are some quotes from a packet of thank you letters from Seattle Country Day School:

“I learned Arboretum means tree place. I think it was really fun when we made a tree out of our bodies!”

“It was fun being the bark and chanting we are bark please keep out.”

“Thank you for showing us around the Arboretum. My favorite part was when we planted a seed. I learned that you need the perfect temperature to grow a plant.”

“I learned that plants help us breathe.”

You know, you don’t have to be a student on a field trip to get out into the Arboretum! Take off your adult worries and slip into a more comfortable and comforting environment. Re-engage your sense of wonder by smelling some soil or hugging a tree. You might just see us with a group of students doing the exact same thing.

Learn Autumn Perennial Care from Riz Reyes

October 11th, 2012 by UWBG Communication Staff

Autumn in the Soest Perennial Garden

When – Saturday, November 3, 2012, 10am – 12pm – Cancelled
Where – Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA
Cost – $25; $30 after October 28th, registration required.

Join the Soest Garden gardener Riz Reyes for this hands-on workshop on fall perennial garden care. Walk the extensively planted beds and learn about which plants to cut back now, and which ones to leave until spring. Learn how to divide and transplant specific types of plants, and some tricks and techniques for maintenance practices that create visual appeal for the dormant season. Riz will also share his favorite “tried and true” selections for fall interest.

Participants should bring their own hand-pruners, gloves, and hori-hori soil knife, and dress for the weather.

Photo from Contest Winner Gets on City Site!

October 11th, 2012 by Lisa Sanphillippo

Congratulations, Annie!

Not only for having a photo that was one of the winners in our August Kids Digital Photography Contest, but for one of your photos making it onto the Visiting Seattle page of our city’s website! Annie’s amazing photo is 4th on the slide show.

Kids RULE!

Fiddlehead Fridays – New Sessions!

October 9th, 2012 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Our Fiddlehead Thursday Fall Series filled so fast I could barely keep up! As the wait lists started to grow we decided to add a second set to our fall series. Now the same programs are offered every other Thursday AND Friday. Here’s what’s coming up:

October 18 – Falling Changing LeavesFULL
October 19 – Falling Changing Leaves, 9-11am
Everything is changing as we move from summer to fall. How can we tell and what is happening? Falling leaves, changing colors, and shifting wildlife patterns will clue us into the signs of fall.

November 1 – BatsFULL
November 2 – Bats, 9-11am
Bats move through the forest at night using only sound while they hunt for insects. What’s it like to be a bat?

November 15 – Where do the Birds Go?FULL
November 16 – Where do the Birds Go?, 9-11am
Some birds stay, some birds fly south. Why? We will learn about why birds migrate and discover which birds are here to stay for winter.

December 6 – CamouflageFULL
December 7 – Camouflage, 9-11am
How come we rarely see the coyotes living in Seattle or the millions of insects tucked around our green spaces? Camouflage is the ticket to staying hidden. We’ll discover different forms of camouflage and see how well we can camouflage ourselves!

December 20 – Trees in Winter, 10am-12pm
December 21 – Trees in Winter, 9-11am
What are trees doing in the winter? We will investigate different trees and discover what they’re up to.

Head on over to the Fiddleheads webpage to register:

Coming soon: Fiddlehead Thursdays – Winter Series!

IMLS grant funds geo-referenced, integrated database

October 8th, 2012 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

In July 2012 the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded a Museums for America grant to UW Botanic Gardens to integrate an all-inclusive database, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. The multi-part project will ultimately allow for one point of access to herbarium, horticultural and curitorial records linked to an Arc-GIS generated map, searchable from any web-connected devise. The database will be used to advance environmental research, improve Arboretum management and expand interpretation of the woody plant collections.

The first major task starting as soon as survey equipment arrives will be to measure and verify the geospatial coordinates of the physical monuments of the historic grid system used in the Washington Park Arboretum. These coordinates will be used to create a map that supports the geo-referenced database.