Seasonal Horticulture Update: “The Summer of Our Content”

November 3rd, 2012 by UWBG Horticulturist

Hydrangea by Harpa KarinUWBG Horticulture and Plant Records staff had a very busy, productive and satisfying summer. A cold wet June and early July pushed extraordinary plant growth, and, oh my, the WEEDS…Then, just as quickly as we could say, “No summer in Seattle”, the heavens went dry and lo and behold, we experienced an historic dry spell extending our summer to October 12. See King 5 news story starring, horticulturist and new plant care team member, Neal Bonham.

http://www.king5.com/news/local/If-today-stays-rain-free-driest-August-on-record-168165016.html

In hindsite, this weather pattern was just what the plant doctors ordered. A prosperous longer than usual planting window followed by a longer than usual dry period enabled us to plant into late June and then complete several landscaping projects into October.

For example, the contractor hired for constructing our 2.5 acre New Zealand eco-geographic display in the Pacific Connections Garden lucked out big time grading the steep, fortunately dry glacial-till slopes with heavy equipment. On a smaller scale, we were able to sneak a new berm in the hollies, which will eventually accommodate new specimens in the American clade. If you visit, check out the new interpretive signage.

It was all about NAIOP’s 22nd annual community enhancement project on the other side of the water at CUH. Early on in the planning stages, our associate director, Fred Hoyt, kept saying this event could be a game-changer for us. As time wore on and the project scope was scaled-back, it began to seem his prognostication would not come to pass. Now, after all is mostly said and done, if not a game-changer, it was most certainly HUGE for much needed improvements and indeed a springboard for potential future projects on our CUH campus, gardens and UBNA that will be appreciated by all for years to come.

I’m particularly excited about the huge effort that went into upgrading our plant production and corps yard area behind DRC. It’s amazing what laying down new gravel and paint can do for a tired looking nursery and storage space. And, just in the nick of time, we will now be able to overwinter lots of plants in a completely restored hoop-house.

Time now to blow the horn, as I would be remiss as a supervisor by not extending praise to my hard-working dedicated staff. Everyone contributed greatly to the enormous summer’s contents worth of planning, preparing, implementing and, of course, maintaining the grounds, gardens and plant records, including all the volunteer programs we’re involved with, throughout our botanic gardens. Here are a few of our summer accomplishments, not previously mentioned, and in no particular order:

  • A newly installed Winter Garden drainage system in the recently renovated SE quadrant. This was a joint operation between UWBG and City Parks crews. Implemented due to waterlogged soils not foreseen in the original bed renovation. May all our efforts pay off for healthy Winter Garden displays in the future!
  • A complete unabridged inventory and review of our plant collections within the Japanese Garden. Believe it or not, this is the first inventory taken since the UW gave up managment of the Japanese Garden to Seattle City Parks and Rec in 1981!
  • The Soest lawn has been renovated. Long overdue. You shoulda seen the thatch pile!
  • The incredible planning and installation for the “Music of Trees”!  Last weekend before UWBG arborist, Chris Watson, and the artist, Abby Aresty, begin the tedious task of dismantling the complex engineered designs.
  • Forest ridge middle-trail restoration in WPA. An Eagle Scout project and another joint operation between UWBG and City Parks staff.
  • Brubaker Quaking Aspen Grove maintenance project. Ask arborist assistant, Darrin Hedberg, where to find it.
  • Another successful and fun “Day of Caring”! Joint operations between all three arboretum partners: AF, UWBG and City Parks.
  • Completion of our 4th year of our 5 year DOE Garden Loosestrife grant. Although we are making headway, there are big challenges that lay ahead for this noxious weed.

And now that it is indeed officially fall and a surprising colorful one at that, it’s onward marching soldiers to another ambitious fall/winter planting season…Coming attractions include continuing McVay courtyard renovation and a Capstone REN project in the hollies to name a few.

Happy Holidays blog readers! Stay warm and cozy and renew your gardening senses by visiting UWBG!

 

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