A Glimpse into the Past – Azalea Way before the Azaleas

November 7th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Grading Azalea Way in the Washington Park Arboretum circa 1938

Seventy-five years ago, work was beginning on the creation of the “University of Washington Arboretum” in Washington Park, as the Dawson/Olmsted plan had been accepted.   This month’s photo was taken by Frederick Leissler, landscape architect for the Seattle Parks Department, labeled as 1938-39.  It shows the grading to create Azalea Way.   Leissler actually developed the first preliminary sketches in 1934 for a comprehensive plan of the Arboretum, but the sketches were not accepted.

Scot Medbury, in preparation for his M.S. thesis (The Olmsted Taxonomic Arboretum and its Application to Washington Park, Seattle; 1990) interviewed Leissler shortly before the landscape architect’s death. Copies of Leissler’s archives are available in the Miller Library.   The Leissler plan, along with several others including one by Otto Holmdahl, were not accepted.  The accepted plan was funded with a $3000 gift from the Seattle Garden Club, which hired James Dawson of the Olmsted Brothers firm.

Leissler wrote the description on the back of the photo, giving the details, “In the Grading of ‘Azalea Way’, over 50,000 cu. yds. of dirt was moved and several thousand cu. yds. of cow manure and peat moss worked into the soil”.  (signed Fred Leissler, Asst. Dir.)   This was no small feat back in 1938.

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Described by Leissler: “In the Grading of ‘Azalea Way’, over 50,000 cu. yds. of dirt was moved and several thousand cu. yds. of cow manure and peat moss worked into the soil”

As we meander along the three-quarter mile path today, we are indebted to those persons of vision who created one of the world’s most magnificent grass public walkways.  I am reminded of a warm July afternoon in the mid-1990s, when members of the Board of Directors from the Huntington Botanical Garden practically all lay prone in the middle of Azalea Way, in awe of this green oasis bordered by statuesque Northwest conifers. Today thousands of Northwest residents and visitors make this a regular walk.  The next time you walk Azalea Way, why not wonder what those creators might be saying if they “walked beside you today!”  Do it soon!

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A glimpse into the past – 60 years of beekeeping at the Arboretum

October 4th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff
A few of Moen's original bee hives. Photo courtesy of Arboretum Foundation

A few of Moen’s original bee hives. Photo courtesy of Arboretum Foundation

By Director Emeritus John Wott

The Puget Sound Beekeepers have long been involved with the Washington Park Arboretum. When retired Coast Guard Captain Carl Henry Moen was looking for a location for the fledgling Beekeepers Association hives in the 1950s, he made a deal with Arboretum Director Brian Mulligan to place 10 towering hives in a hidden location in the Arboretum (still located there today!). They actually started with 6 hives, which they purchased for $10.00 each from a beekeeper’s widow. Brian was delighted to have bees in order to make sure the many bee-pollinated plants in the Arboretum would bear fruit and seeds.

Captain Moen, a native of Toledo, OH, became interested in bees at the age of 19. When he retired from the Coast Guard in 1954, his wife Laura and he moved to Seattle, where he actively pursued for 40 years the caring, teaching, and rescuing of bees. He often appeared on TV and was known to drive for miles in order to rescue a hive in a bewildered homeowner’s house or garden.

In a 1980’s news story, Captain Moen said he had hived 1118 swarms, and had directed 1138 swarms to members in over 25 yrs. He was known to deal with 200 swarm cells per day. His grandson in 2002 recalled seeing the back of Captain Moen’s Dodge Dart full of dead bees. Family folk lore says that he placed a queen bee in the casket of a deceased friend so that the friend would always have bees and honey on the other side. The Captain died in 1991 at the age of 91.

Photo courtesy of Arboretum Foundation

Photo courtesy of Arboretum Foundation

The site of the Arboretum hives was updated in 2002 when the Beekeepers Association moved their monthly meetings back to the Graham Visitors Center where they still meet. Since then, the site has been continually updated and cared for by the Association. The bees are an important part of the life cycle of many Arboretum plants, and are often used in the children’s programs.

Captain Moen always claimed that the honey made from in the Arboretum hives was the best, because the bees “sampled” so many different plants. Next time you  are in the GVC, stop by the Gift Shop and purchase some Arboretum honey, still  sold in many seasonal variations. Better yet, join the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association and own your own personal bee hive.   (Pictures, Arboretum Bulletin 64:2, Summer 2002.)

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Academic opportunities at the Botanic Gardens

September 20th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff
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Make connections, gain experience, have fun: get involved at the UW Botanic Gardens!

Welcome UW Students! Make time in your busy schedule to get involved at the Botanic Gardens*. You won’t regret the investment because not only will you gain experience but you will also make connections with professionals and fellow students.

Ways to get involved:

What we do:

  • environmental horticulture
  • restoration ecology
  • public garden management
  • collection development
  • information management
  • communication & social networking
  • marketing
  • curriculum design
  • archives
  • curation
  • arboriculture
  • urban ecology
  • environmental education
  • integrated pest management
  • rare plant conservation
  • continuing education
  • visitor experience & interpretation
  • inventory ground-truthing & GIS mapping
  • surveying

*UW Botanic Gardens has two sites: the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture and includes the Miller Library and Hyde Herbarium. Programs include continuing education for adults, outdoor programs for children plus conservation and restoration projects.

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Wahkiakum Lane closed Sep. 16-20

September 16th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

The Wahkiakum Lane trail between the Center for Urban Horticulture and the E5 parking lot (and the IMA) is closed September 16-20, 2013. Work crews will be making improvements to the heavily used trail. The detour is to go north on Mary Gates Memorial drive then west on Clark road, then go south on either Canal road or Walla Walla road.


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A glimpse into the past – remembering the original New Zealand garden

September 10th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

by Dr. John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Sign for original 1993 New Zealand High Country garden.

In mid-September, 2013, we will dedicate the “The New Zealand Forest”, the largest-ever built garden in the Washington Park Arboretum. It is one of the new gardens in the ever growing “Pacific Connections” area.  On November 21, 1993, which was a rainy blustery Sunday afternoon, we dedicated “The New Zealand High Country”, the first Arboretum garden of New Zealand natives. The Honorable Denis McLean, New Zealand ambassador to the United States, and Mrs. McLean, along with many Kiwis were present. It was followed with a party in the Graham Visitors Center hosted by the Seattle-Christchurch Sister City Committee, one of the garden’s sponsors. It was the beginning of a dream, now being manifested, by Dr. H. John Bollard, New Zealand Consulate and also Garden contributor and his supportive wife Eve. Eve made cucumber sandwiches for the event and we lavished on New Zealand wines and cheeses.

The planting was designed to mimic the appearance of a subalpine tussock grassland, complete with a trail meandering through a small “pass” created by boulders. It was planted with 93 individual plants, representing 29 taxa. Patterned after an idea from Timothy Hohn, curator, from his collecting trip to New Zealand, and Lynda Ransley, Edcuation Coordinator, the actual garden was implemented by Christina Pfeiffer, horticulturalist ; Tracy Omar, recorder;  and Barbara Selemon, propagator;  and assisted by Ian Robertson, landscape architect.

The Garden was built entirely by the UW Grounds staff. On that November Sunday, the high temperature  was 50 degrees F, falling to 27 degrees F that night. Twenty-one mm of rain (24.5 mm = 1 in) fell that night, and on Monday, the high was 28 degrees F, and low, 22 degrees F. The staff rushed to wrap up all the plants like burlap holiday presents. The week ahead was unseasonably cold. This was the beginning of hardiness testing for New Zealand plants.

The idea of eco-geographic collections in the Arboretum began with discussions between Clement Hamilton, Center for Urban Horticulture director and associate professor of taxonomy, and Timothy Hohn, curator. It later became one of the foci in the Master Plan, approved in 2001. I specifically remember Dr. Harold Tukey, founding  CUH director, in a earlier visit of New Zealand dignitaries whom John Bollard often proudly led through the Arboretum, waving his hand over an area in the south central part of the Arboretum and enthusiastically saying “this is where the eventual New Zealand Garden will be.” Although not in that exact location, it certainly will become a destination for future generations to enjoy.

The New Zealand Forest contains a reconstructed and expanded version of the Bollard-sponsored garden, a continuing living tribute to a man who never gave up his dream. Although now dimmed by the infirmities of age, hopefully he will still feel his legacy. We do! Don’t miss any of the celebratory activities for this new Garden in September!

program scan.

The program to the 1993 dedication of the New Zealand High Country garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.


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Celebrate New Zealand Forest at opening Sep. 15

September 5th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

New Zealand Forest 2013The Arboretum Foundation, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the University of Washington Botanic Gardens invite the public to join us to celebrate the official opening of the New Zealand Forest in Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Drive East, Seattle) on Sunday, September 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Opening Celebration—organized in partnership with the Seattle-Christchurch Sister City Association and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture—will pay homage to New Zealand’s culture and ethnobotanical history. It will feature a traditional Maori “haka,” or war dance, and a dedication ceremony with special guest Caine Tauwhare, a Maori wood carver from New Zealand who carved the slats for a park bench in the new forest.

Event Schedule:

  • 11:00–11:15 AM: Welcome
  • 11:15–11:20 AM: Haka dance performance by Te Tini A Maui.
  • 11:20–11:40 AM: Speeches by Darryl Smith (Deputy Mayor of Seattle), Jeffrey M. Riedinger, J.D., Ph.D., (Vice Provost for Global Affairs, University of Washington), Craig Trueblood (Arboretum Foundation Board President), and Rachel Jacobson (New Zealand Honorary Consul).
  • 11:40–11:45 AM: Procession from the Pacific Connections meadow to the New Zealand Forest.
  • 11:45 AM–12:00 PM: Ribbon-cutting ceremony, led by Jack Collins, chair of the Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committee chair.
  • 12:05–12:20 PM: Performance by Te Tini A Maui.
  • 12:25–12:50 PM: Poi and haka workshops by Te Tini A Maui.
  • 1:00–1:15 PM: Bench dedication with Maori carver, Caine Tauwhare.
  • 12:35–2:00 PM: Tours, family activities, and refreshments.

nzfoposter

Full press release.

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A glimpse into the past – Mulligan’s historic whitebark pines photo exhibit

August 5th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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Photo by Brian O. Mulligan circa 1949 of living and dead whitebark pines on pass leading to Ingalls Lake.

This picture is one of 30 mounted black-and-white photographs showing native (NW) coniferous trees (and a few junipers also). Brian O. Mulligan, then Director, Washington Park Arboretum, prepared these as an exhibit for the Royal Horticultural Society’s Conifer Conference, London, England, October 5 – 9, 1970. The photos were taken from 1949-1969 by Brian on his hiking trips, with wife Margaret, to various Western States from California to Wyoming. This specific picture is labeled “Living and dead Whitebark pines on pass leading to Ingalls Lake”.

Brian personally mounted and prepared the photographs and took the display to London. Brian was an active member of the Conifer Societies during his lifetime, and those groups often visited the Arboretum. In 1986, the bulk of the pictures were hung in the Dean’s (Director’s) Conference Room in Anderson Hall where they proudly reside today. They were specifically directed to the attention of Dale W. Cole, associate dean, College of Forest Resources, and the new exhibit was supervised by Steve Archie, College Administrator. Margaret can be seen in many of the photographs.

 

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Planting Party in the New Zealand Garden

July 16th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

Placing plantsPacific Connections Garden Stewards made history on June 20th when they planted the New Zealand High Country plants into the new Bollard Garden in the new  forest. They planted several species well over 20 years old. These include Nothofagus solanderi, Griselinia littoralis, Phyllocladus alpinus, Phormium colensoi, and Dodonaea viscosa. In addition to the Bollard Garden (aka The New Zealand High Country Display), the garden will include the Hebe Meadow, the Griselinia Bush, the Mountain Tussock, Snow Tussock, the Silver Beech Forest, the Phormium Fen and the Mountain Beech Zone. It’s looking like the New Zealand Garden is on track to open by September 15, 2013. Here are some pictures that Pacific Connections Steward Rhonda Bush took during the planting project.

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Along Azalea Way with Dennie Fee

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Neil Bonham moving Phormium

 

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A Glimpse Into the Past: Invitations for the CUH Opening

July 11th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

by Dr. John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

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The invitation sent in 1984 to the opening celebration for the Center for Urban Horticulture.

The opening of the Center for Urban Horticulture was an event that captured international attention. The words on the official opening invitation stated,

This is the first department of its kind in the country. Pioneering research on plants used in cities benefits urban landscapes everywhere. The department’s teaching and public service programs are valuable resources for the Northwest. The Center’s fifty-two acre campus is being built entirely by private donations.

Shown in the photograph are several parts of the official invitation for its formal opening on September 27, 1984. Note that it was hand-written by Mrs. Pendleton (Elisabeth Carey) Miller, who was the prime organizer of the event. Also noteworthy are the guests who were listed on the invitation. They are Governor John Spellman, renowned plantsman Peter Coats, UW President William Gerberding, Provost George Beckman, Retired UW President Charles Odegaard; Director Harold Tukey; and Noted Arboretum Director Richard Howard. This was one of the first grand parties which Betty Miller and her friends held as the new Center for Urban Horticulture developed.

The Miller Library is one of the finest in the USA, and at one time the public outreach program (on all sites) had the second largest number of public contacts in the UW system (besides UW football). It continues to employ exceptional faculty and staff. It also continues to produce graduate students of the highest caliber and alumni are now listed in the “Who’s Who of Horticulture”. Over the years, CUH and the Washington Park Arboretum have become recognized throughout the horticultural world, and the system was copied across the USA as well as internationally. After 30-plus years, it still proudly carries on its mission.

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Burnscapes – Paintings by Suze Woolf on Exhibit

June 6th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

photoArtist Suze Woolf meditates on climate change and forest fires with her series of paintings known as Burnscapes. Recent work from this series will be on exhibit in the Miller Library June 6 through August 30th.

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