The University of Washington Botanic Garden was ranked as one of the top University gardens, tied with three other gardens by Best Colleges Online. Gardens were scored on a number of criteria, including number of plant species, and presence of a horticultural library, education and conservation programs. With the Washington Park Arboretum enormous woody plant collection and the Center for Urban Horticulture’s numerous opportunities for formal and informal education it is no surprise that we ranked in the top of the list of 50 reviewed gardens.
This summer, check out a good book
We hope summer brings you sun, fresh air, and time to read. On display this month in the northwest corner you’ll find a few off-the-beaten-path selections to engage your intellect this summer. With topics ranging from poetry to environmental policy and history to biography, there’s something for every reader. See recommended titles in the Garden of Ideas list of books available to borrow from the Miller Library.
[Originally appeared in Leaflet for Scholars e-newsletter.]
By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
Today’s visitors to the Washington Park Arboretum walk past historical artifacts not knowing why they might be there. One of those is the Memorial Fountain dedicated to the late Mrs. W.W. Sawyer, along Arboretum Drive E. opposite Rhododendron Glen.
An article written by J. A. Witt, in the Arboretum Foundation Bulletin Summer (24:3, pg. 62) chronicles its dedication on Monday, February 21, 1961. Mr. Sawyer and members of the Maude Sawyer Unit (No. 19), who made a handsome donation for its construction, were present.
“This charming and practical memorial….was designed by Dr. Donald J. Foote, a former member of the University of Washington’s Architect’s staff. It was constructed by personnel from the mason’s shop of the UW Physical Plant Department, using granite blocks for the wall as well as the fountain basin.” The site also originally had special collection plants of Berberis aquifolium ‘Compacta’ and Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna, surrounded by three camellia.
A series of pictures shows the site before, during its construction, and today. Like most artifacts in the WPA, they are in a state of decline. Twenty years ago, the running water fountain was changed to a hand-manipulated one. Later, the water was entirely stopped. The granite portion is still proudly standing and is easily seen. Budget cutbacks in both state and city budgets do not provide funds to maintain these historical landmarks which are usually removed when they fall into total disrepair.
By Eve Rickenbaker, Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium manager and School of Environmental and Forest Sciences graduate student
The herbarium specimen of Pseudotsuga menziesii, beloved Douglas fir of the Pacific Northwest, is just one of 22,500 specimens in our Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium collection at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. During the last two and half years, a group of dedicated volunteers logged close to 1,200 hours in the herbarium completing an audit of the entire collection.
Ross Bayton, our 2014 UW Botanic Gardens’ Volunteer of the Year, led the audit by generously giving 680 hours of his time. With Ross’s botanical knowledge and expertise, he checked each of the 22,500 specimens for accuracy while adding information from each specimen into our database and organizing the collection to match current classification. Ross came to the herbarium during the fall of 2012 from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he earned a PhD in plant taxonomy. In addition to Ross’s work, twenty-three students and community volunteers* committed over 500 hours working on the audit from October 2012 until now, April 2015.
The pressed plant specimens of the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium reflect the research of faculty, staff and students at the UW Botanic Gardens. The Herbarium includes specimens from the Washington Park Arboretum, horticulturally significant plants, and the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board collection. We offer free plant identification services and many volunteer opportunities. Come see us in the Herbarium at the UW Botanic Gardens Center for Urban Horticulture to see specimens such as the Douglas fir and other interesting pressed plants.
*Herbarium audit volunteers:
Loni Jean Rodrigo
Alex Von Bredow
April showers bring May weeds? Shotweed, dandelion, buttercup, morning glory and SO MANY MORE weeds thrive in our mild maritime climate. Many home gardeners feel overwhelmed by unwanted plants crowding out desirable flowers or vegetables. How do professional gardeners manage weeds? Kathleen DeMaria, Botanic Gardens Horticulturist, shares her favorite tool and the strategy she uses in the New Zealand forest at the Washington Park Arboretum.
“If I could only have one gardening tool for the rest of my life it would be a digging fork with a ‘D’ handle. Not a curved fork like a pitchfork, but a smaller fork with four flat, thick, stainless steel tines. I prefer the D handle over the T handle because I feel I get more leverage with it and feels right with my wrist. I use it to loosen soil around an area before I weed or to turn over soil and break up heavy clumps. It is also great for getting to the base of a dandelion without snapping it or cutting it.”
“As far as philosophy and technique, I like to use my fork to loosen an entire area and then use my hori hori to help me pull the weeds without leaving the roots in the soil. I tend to work on clearing one area at a time and then mulch the area right after I weed it to give me some extra time before the weeds come back. In spring I’m less systematic and go into triage mode and seek and destroy anything that is close to seeding or fully engulfing another plant.”
What to do about muddy puddles caused by rain runoff in the middle of a trail used by hundreds of people every day? Could a garden solve the problem?
Masters of Environmental Horticulture graduate student Malcolm Howard choose this problem area as his MEH project. He explains how the site was chosen: “The rain garden was placed along the trail to intercept runoff from the nearby parking lot. Instead of water ponding on the trail after rains, the rain garden helps retain this runoff and convey the remaining water under the trail.”
The prairie rain garden was installed just south west of the parking lot that is on the west side of Merrill Hallat the Center for Urban Horticulture. The trail leads to the popular Union Bay Natural Area where visitors enjoy watching birds and feeling immersed in a wild place.
What does Malcolm expect to accomplish with the Prairie Rain Garden? “I hope that the garden can help improve trail conditions, while displaying some interesting native prairie plants for people to enjoy and learn about.”
The Prairie Rain Garden received a small project grant from the UW Sustainability Fund in January 2015.
Prairie Rain Garden Summary with plant list.
By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus.
When the Center for Urban Horticulture was established in the early 1980s, one of the programmatic goals was to create and carry out a comprehensive public outreach program into the community for gardeners and professionals. The University of Washington is not part of the federal land grant system and thus receives no federal or state monies for such programs, as is the case for Washington State University. Thus any resources and programs developed had to be self-supporting.
Private funds were found to assemble the buildings on the UW East campus, which were built from 1984-1987. The addition of the Graham Visitors Center in 1986 at the Washington Park Arboretum added an additional site for Arboretum focused programs. As programs grew, so did the staff to support them. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the annual total number of participants in classes, facility inquiry visits, tours, school programs, telephone inquiries, public open houses, library visits, as well as community lectures and tours at both the Center for Urban Horticulture and Washington Park Arboretum reached into the thousands.
The addition of Washington State Master Gardening clinics, classes and lectures greatly expanded both community gardening and professional landscape and nursery programs. The school programs increased at the Washington Park Arboretum. Both programs became year round. In the 1990’s, we often boasted that we were “second” in UW community outreach numbers, although quite some distance behind the UW Athletic events.
Since the beginning and continuing today, these programs have been lead by a talented group of staff. Many people have started their careers with us and then gone onto “greener pastures,” making their mark throughout the country.
In thirty years, there have been changes in the horticulture outreach environment: public budgets have decreased; there is now a plethora of gardening information on the internet; and there is increasing emphasis on environmental, conservation, and restoration issues. The baby boomer generation is retiring and today’s consumers have less interest in large gardens although they are more food and environmentally conscious.
Annual reports of specific numbers and program themes are archived in both the Miller Library and UW Archives. The included photos are one glimpse of the continuing education and outreach staff taken in December 1992.
By John Wott, Director Emeritus
In those divisive times of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, many new ideas began to form regarding how to live on, properly use, and safeguard the resources on our earth. This included groups from the “flower children” to academics. Learned horticulturists, botanists, and academics in the Northwest created a plan which called for the creation of a new academic unit at the University of Washington to be called the Center for Urban Horticulture. It would be different from traditional production horticulture which had been taught for hundreds of years. Instead it would bring disciplines together which seldom or never interacted.
The Center for Urban Horticulture, the first of its kind in the world, and thereafter copied around the world, officially began its life when Professor Harold B. Tukey, Jr, from Cornell University arrived as its founding director in May 1980. Dr. Tukey’s family, including father and brothers, were well known in the horticulture academic arena. He first worked along with an administrator, Sally Dickman, in an office in Anderson Hall on the UW campus. He also was UW director of the Washington Park Arboretum and directed that staff, headed by Joseph A. Witt, curator. In 1981, two new faculty arrived: myself, John A. Wott, from Purdue University in April, and James A. Clark, from Rutgers University in June.
The initial promise of full state funds soon evaporated as the State of Washington rapidly slipped into a recession and all hope of state funds for building and future program building was futile. Never daunted, Dr. Tukey, aided by the good will of Provost George Beckman (who did provide what seed money he could), along with community horticulture stalwarts such as Elisabeth Carey (Betty) Miller began a campaign to raise the millions of dollars needed privately. As you now see today, they were successful. CUH, now a part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, is an invaluable resource in the Northwest as well as nationally and internationally.
The accompanying pictures show scenes from the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the original Merrill Hall in 1983.
The UW Farm has launched a USEED crowdfunding campaign with the goal of raising $9,000 to build a new cob oven and structure, a new wash station, and reusable and portable hoop houses. These projects will build on the capacity of the UW Farm, increase their educational opportunities, and give them an amazing space to gather for pizza bakes and community gatherings.
Based at the Center for Urban Horticulture, the UW Farm is a student-driven urban farm that inspires students to think critically about our food system, while also providing them a physical space to experiment and learn about urban agriculture. Please help us GROW!
USEED@UW is a powerful tool for fueling initiatives through crowd-sourced philanthropic giving. It provides a platform in which people can partner with the University on any number of projects and share the news with their friends, family and colleagues. Together, we can provide a dynamic learning environment and embrace the spirit of discovery, innovation and community involvement at the heart of the UW.
By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
A former staff member, Rebecca Johnson, shared with me a copy of the “First Annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show” program, held on Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 17-20, 1989. On February 10, 2015, the 26th Show will open. I am proud to say that I have attended each one, including the Preview Party, a benefit for the Washington Park Arboretum. This 48-page colored glossy printed program was a synopsis of horticulture in the Northwest at that time. The cover photograph, taken by the late Jerry Sedenko, features the Streissguth Garden, now a public garden on the slope of north Capitol Hill.
This indeed was an exciting event, showcasing such a sizable indoor garden display never before seen here. A dream come true of the founder and owner, Duane Kelly, it was patterned after the fabulous shows of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Jane Pepper (Philadelphia) and Richard Daley (Mass. Hort. Society) were advisers. Duane’s vision and enthusiasm for the Seattle show is expressed in the “Welcome to the Show” program introduction. The appreciation list is a glimpse of Northwest horticulture leadership including Dr. Harold Tukey, Nancy Davidson Short, Steve Lorton, Jerry Wilmot, Egon Molbak, and Ann Lovejoy as well as Kathleen Brenzel of Sunset Magazine.
The 25 gardens were built and sponsored by Molbak’s, Star Nursery, Iseli Nursery, Briggs Nursery, Swanson’s, Rodda and Sons, Weyerhaeuser Nursery Products, Weyerhaeuser Specialty Plants, Price Ragen, Magnolia Lawn and Garden, Washington Park Arboretum, Barford’s Hardy Ferns, Furney’s, Seattle Water Department, Seattle Parks Volunteer Park Conservatory, Jackson and Perkins, Skagit Gardens/Wight’s, Highridge Corporation, Puget Sound Bonsai, Ikebana International, Big Rock Garden, Bamboo Brokerage, Columbia Greenhouse, FTD Florists, and Boeing Aerospace Company. There was also a children’s garden. The entire garden layout plus all the retail booths were on the fourth floor.
The center section of the program contained colored pictures and short descriptions of 26 Northwest public gardens in an article written by Nancy Clark Hewitt in which she states that “the Northwest is blessed with an excess of natural beauty inspired by nature’s bounty. A rich gardening tradition has developed here, and is to be showcased in the show. “
From the very moment of conception Duane wanted the Northwest Flower and Garden Show to be educational, and I was privileged to plan and lead these free lectures and seminars for those first years, then held on the sixth floor. As stated by Duane, “these programs “represent the greatest amount of horticultural, floral, and landscape knowledge ever assembled under one roof in the Northwest.” We were overwhelmed with attendees and early on struggled to contain waiting lines. In addition the show offered free booth space to horticultural societies where the public could find answers and talk to local experts.
Over these 26 yrs, the NWFGS has changed with the times, but it is still one of the best indoor garden shows of the USA, if not the world. Why not follow in the footsteps of thousands and attend the forthcoming Northwest Flower and Garden Show, “Romance Blossoms?”