Orchids and Monkeys and Quetzals – OH MY!

July 28th, 2014 by Sarah Reichard

An Upcoming UWBG Adventure in Costa Rica

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Adventure awaits in Costa Rica with UW Botanic Gardens. Photo by Joanna Livingstone

One of the best things I did for myself during my graduate school days – no actually, in my whole life – was to take a two month tropical ecology class in Costa Rica from the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). Besides being in an incredibly beautiful place, I found myself in experiences that challenged me. Because I am a serious plant geek, I have always chosen projects relating to plants, but OTS would have none of that – we were assigned to work with various biologists and did projects relating to their specialties. Therefore, I spend a very memorable night trapping bats with a noted expert from the Smithsonian Museum, with a dawn serenade from howler monkeys all around us. I also worked on leaf cutter ants and poison dart frogs – and plants.

It was such a wonderful experience, that I felt no need to return to Costa Rica – until now. Holbrook Travel has organized a great trip that has many of the experiences I had with OTS, but a little safer. For instance, Holbrook can arrange for us to float in a raft on the Rio Sarapiqui. This river flows through the OTS La Selva station. Our field work was usually done in the morning and we would often run up the river a ways and then jump in the water fully clothed and float back to the field station to cool off before lunch. Between rocks and caimans we were probably flirting with more danger than we should, but we were in our 20s and had that live-forever mentality. I also spent a memorable evening with others in the class on Volcan Arenal, an active volcano, that resulted in our wandering in the dark as the volcano erupted, trying to find the bus that was coming to pick us up. Holbrook has placed us in the lovely Arenal Lodge, where we will be able to view the volcano and engage in a number of civilized activities.

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Photo by Dain Van Schoyck

We will also be visiting the high elevation Monteverde Reserve, where I am determined to see the Resplendent Quetzal! Despite many attempts to see this bird in Costa Rica and Guatemala, all involving me getting up in the wee hours of the morning, I have never seen it. In Guatemala I went to the place listed in all the guidebooks as the place you were guaranteed to see one. I heard them calling all around me (lovely call, by the way) but never saw one. To add further insult to injury, the woman who owned the property showed me a time-stamped photo taken the previous afternoon of three of these gorgeous birds sitting on a wire by her house! This time I will see one – I just KNOW it!

So come with me to Costa Rica! I can’t promise caimans and bats (and apparently not a Resplendent Quetzal), but I can promise fun and new experiences. We will very likely see all sorts of critters and certainly some amazing tropical rain forest plants. Oh and here is a tip – when we go out for a night walk to see nocturnal animals, bring a flashlight, but not a head lamp –a 6 inch moth banging into your head repeatedly is very distracting!

Download the itinerary for January 04, 2015 – January 13, 2015. Space is limited so register today!

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A Local Beauty

July 27th, 2014 by Catherine Nelson, Adult Tours Program Assistant

tplicatabranchesThis photo is of a native Thuja Plicata (common name; Western Red Cedar) and shows the great J-arm branches that these trees feature. Although the Puget Mill Company logged most trees on the site by 1900, this particular Thuja was perhaps overlooked by the loggers and is therefore one of the oldest and largest specimens in the arboretum. It is located between the Witt Winter Garden and Azalea Way.
This tree species was valued by the local Salish tribes who called it the “tree of life” as it provided them with bark for clothing, dried leaves for a medicinal tea, and planks for longhouses among many other uses.
Our August Free Weekend Walk’s topic is Native Plants & People; a knowledgeable guide will talk about this tree and various other native plants and their ethnobotanical uses.

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Summer Camp in Full Swing!

July 22nd, 2014 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

UW Botanic Gardens Summer Camps are in full swing at the Arboretum as we begin Week 4: “Tadpoles & Whirligigs”. Last week’s “Don’t Bug Out” camp was a big hit with our 6 – 12 year old audience, and to go along with the theme, we gave our 48 campers a survey about insects. Surprisingly, though most kids thought that if insects were human-sized, ants would most likely take over the world, “flying” was the more desired insect super power with “ant strength” barely registering. See below for all the results, and follow this link if you’d like to take the survey yourself! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M6P29LK

 

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Art Exhibit: Oil Paintings by Kathleen Wolfe opens August 5

July 22nd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

Wolfe paintingSeattle Parks and the Northwest
Artist Kathleen Wolfe celebrates her love of nature with oil paintings on canvas featuring poppies, water lilies and landscape with majestic trees. Her paintings will be on display in the Miller Library from August 5th to September 16th.

Meet the artist at a free reception at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library on Wednesday, August 13th from 5:00 to 7:00pm. 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle.

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July Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

July 12th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (July 7 - 20, 2014)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (July 7 – 20, 2014)

“Sporting Wood”

1)    White Ash    (Fraxinus americana)

  • Tough, plentiful, and easily bent into curves, Ash is used in tennis racquets, billiard cues, skis, and baseball bats.
  • White Ash is native to eastern and central North America.
  • This cutting is from the cultivar ‘Rose Hill’, located in grid 47-3E near the Lagoons.

2)   Common Box    (Buxus sempervirens)

  • Used for crocquet balls because of its hardness.
  • Native to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.
  • The cultivar here is ‘Argentea’ from grid 5-B in our Boxwood Collection.

3)   American Hop Hornbeam    (Ostrya virginiana)

  • The first ice hockey sticks were made from the dense wood of this small tree in the mid-19th century until the 1930s by the Mi’kmaq people of Nova Scotia.
  • Ostrya virginiana is native to eastern North America.
  • The Arboretum has two trees in grids 19-3W and 24-4W.
Close-up photo of Persimmon flowers

Close-up photo of Persimmon flowers

4)   Persimmon    (Diospyros virginiana)

  • The “woods” of golf (drivers, not Tiger’s) were typically made from this American member of the ebony family from which it inherits its extreme density.
  • Persimmon is most common in the southeastern United States.
  • In the Arboretum, they are in grids 12-1W and 12-2W, north of the Boyer Street parking lot.

5)   Sugar Maple    (Acer saccharum)

  • Commonly called “rock” maple by those who value its hardness and smooth grain.
  • This native of eastern North America provides wood for bowling alleys, bowling pins, basketball courts, and baseball bats.
  • The Arboretum has several cultivars in various locations.

Sources:

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Meet our Summer Education Staff

July 2nd, 2014 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

Summer camps have exploded in growth this year and so has our staff to teach and lead Discussing the importance of earthworms and what they do.campers through the wonders of the Washington Park Arboretum and Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH). Camps are based at the Arboretum, and during some weeks we’ll take field trips to CUH and the Union Bay Natural Area. These Summer Garden Guides come from around the country and bring a diverse array of experiences to their teaching and play this summer in our environmental education day camps.

 

 

Hannah Earhart

HannahEHannah has a B.S. in Art Education from Penn State University and recently wrapped up her M.Ed. from The University of Washington. Through work as a preschool Montessori teacher, she intensified her love of questioning and meaning making and enjoys facilitating those experiences in others. When not teaching she enjoys finger painting and petting dogs.

 

 

 

Angela Feng

AngelaFMy name is Angela Feng, and I am going into my fourth year at the University of Washington. I am an Environmental Studies major and a Spanish minor, and hope to pursue a career in environmental education once I graduate. I have always been passionate about the environment, and I discovered how rewarding it can be to transfer that passion to others by getting people excited about nature. I try to spend as much time as I can outdoors, whether it’s working on my p-patch, traversing the myriad of parks around Seattle on my bike, or taking nature walks! I am also fond of musical instruments, fun facts, and bread (I really like bread).

 

Dave Gifford

DaveGOriginally from Pennsylvania, Dave has been teaching in garden and environmental education in the Pacific Northwest over the last six years. Last year he served as an instructor for school overnight and summer programs at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island. He most recently taught with Islandwood’s Seattle-based Homewaters program and SPU’s Salmon in the Schools program. Dave enjoys art-making, music, gardening, and anything outdoors.

 

 

 

Kelsey Hutchison

KelseyHKelsey grew up in the mountains of Colorado, where she grew up with a love of the outdoors. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in environmental studies, she spent a few years working at outdoor environmental education centers throughout the U.S. It was this work that led her to Seattle, where she has worked with children as a nanny. She has also spent time traveling and volunteering abroad. Some of her other interests include: hiking, camping, gardening, dancing, music, travel, hula hooping and crafting.

 

 

Katherine Straus

KatherineSOriginally from Massachusetts, Katherine has spent time in Rhode Island, New York, and Lake Tahoe (on both the Nevada and California sides) before moving to Seattle two years ago to start her Masters in Education at the UW. It was her stint working as a naturalist and outdoor educator in Lake Tahoe where she first found her passion for outdoor education and she has been pursuing it ever since. She loves being in Washington where she gets to enjoy the best of both worlds: mountains AND ocean, and is looking forward to lots of camping, hiking and swimming this summer.

 

 

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A glimpse into the past – Joe Witt in the “pit house”

July 1st, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Joseph A. Witt inspecting seed flats and cuttings in the “pit houses” of the University of Washington Greenhouses at Washington Park Arboretum. April 1976,

This photograph taken in April 1976, shows Joseph A. Witt inspecting seed flats and cuttings in the “pit houses” of the University of Washington Greenhouses at Washington Park Arboretum. Joe, as he preferred to be called, was a prominent staff member of the Arboretum for more than 30 yrs. Officially the Curator, he was also appointed as a Professor of Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture, when it officially opened in 1980.

Joe was a “people person” and was instrumental in assisting the Arboretum Foundation in starting many programs, including encouraging volunteers, “fun days” in weeding, and other educational events. As curator, he was in charge of bringing many new plants into the collection and for the leadership of the UW grounds crew. He was an expert on the horticultural and native flora of the Pacific Northwest. He was renowned and sought-after for his teaching of plant materials, both to UW students and to thousands of horticulturists who came to the Arboretum during his tenure. He also experimented with plant breeding and many of his unnamed rhododendron hybrids still “lurk” within the Arboretum collections. He named many plants and the famed Acer tegmentosum ‘Joe Witt’, a highly striped form of the Manchurian Stripebark Maple, is now  found in increasing numbers on Seattle streets.

His widow, Jean, still active in her mid-90’s, was a keen iris breeder and together they were well known and respected in the native and hardy plant societies of the world. I personally remember several memorable field study trips to the Cascades and east side of Washington in the early 1980’s, whereby Joe spoke about the plants and Jean spoke about the geology. As Joe approached retirement age, he was stricken with cancer and died in May 1984, a great loss to the Northwest horticultural community. However, his legacy lives on.

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Joe and Jean Witt, Arboretum Foundation Annual Dinner, June 1972


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July 2014 Plant Profile: Hydrangea integrifolia

July 1st, 2014 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes
Photo courtesy of Richie Steffen/Great Plant Picks

Photo courtesy of Richie Steffen/Great Plant Picks

An evergreen hydrangea?!!  You betcha!

There are very few evergreen vines for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest, but this gorgeous gem from Asia is  becoming more readily available and it’s simply one of the coolest flowers you’ll ever get to witness opening.

From plump, peony-like buds, they begin to slowly crack open, a froth of fertile flowers begin to form and over the course of a few days, a flat umbel “lacecap” begins to form. People will begin to believe that it’s actually a hydrangea!

Hydrangea integrifolia is quite slow to establish (and re-establish, as we’ve learned after moving it to its new location at CUH three years ago) and may not even flower for the first few years of its life. Once it does, it puts on quite a show each summer. Dark green, glossy foliage remains year round. It’s a clinging plant that forms aerial roots on its stems. The aerial roots attach to a rough surface such as the bark of a tree or rough stucco wall; they don’t form tendrils or long whip-like shoots that wrap around supports so you have to carefully train them until they take hold. You could also let it sprawl on the ground as a ground-cover plant in a woodland garden.

They grow best in a protected spot in the garden such as a shady north-facing wall (such as our specimen here at the Center for Urban Horticulture), but they’re also quite at home tumbling over a stone wall in full sun with regular irrigation during the summer months.

Common Name:  Evergreen Climbing Hydrangea
Location: Center for Urban Horticulture – Miller Library North Foundation Bed
Origin: Taiwan/Philippines
Height and Spread: Can get 40′ tall and about 20′ wide
Bloom Time: Late June – July

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