Staff Spotlight: Tracy Mehlin

September 25th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Tracy visiting The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Tracy is the Information Technology Librarian in the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.

She grew up in the Southwest, in Southern California and Las Vegas. She has been interested in plants since childhood, and one of her earliest gardening memories is selecting bulbs and roses from the Jackson and Perkins catalog to plant at  their house in the high desert. She moved to Seattle after college in 1996 because her sister lived here. She hadn’t planned to stay long, but got a job at a botanic garden, got married, and bought a house, setting down really deep roots! Now she spends time gardening, cooking, reading,  knitting, and enjoying the many varied restaurants of Ballard.

Tracy has a BA in Social Science and a minor in International Relations from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. She really enjoyed all her major classes in history, geography, political science, economics, and anthropology, but her favorite class was on Mexican history and culture. She also holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from UW.

Tracy became interested in UW Botanic Gardens when she read Val Easton’s column in the Seattle Times and noticed her byline, which said she was a horticultural librarian. She thought to herself that she finally had figured out what she wants to do with her life! She started volunteering in the Library autumn of 1999, was hired by the following winter, and started grad school in August 2000.

Tracy manages the websites of the Miller Library and the UW Botanic Gardens, so usually every day she edits or adds new content.  She assists patrons and fellow coworkers with computer and technology questions, and works on various projects as they come up, such as working with a vendor to redesign the interactive map of the Arboretum so that it works on smartphones.

Tracy really enjoys talking to patrons and coworkers about plants and feels so lucky to work here!
Her favorite place at the UW Botanic Gardens is walking from Merrill Hall to Douglas Conservatory because that takes her through three beautiful, dynamic gardens that have something interesting growing all year.

Tracy’s current favorite plant is the tomato. Really! She has five in her garden and is struck by how much she enjoys tending to them. They get planted in late May as tiny little things, then grow amazingly fast, especially this year with the hot, sunny weather. Two plants are already six feet tall. She loves the way the foliage smells. Tracy finds pruning and training them to grow on rebar stakes challenges her live-and-let-grow gardening attitude. Nothing is more coveted than the first ripe tomato. She also likes to make & can green tomato chutney and roasted tomato soup to savor in winter.

Glimpse into the past – the Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree

September 22nd, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
David Zuckerman and the Centennial Tree in 2003, just after transplanting.

David Zuckerman and the Centennial Tree in 2003, just after transplanting.

by John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

On Thursday, October 29, 2015, the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington will honor Daniel J. Evans, on his 90th birthday, for his public leadership, scholarship, and service.  What an opportune time to mention the Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree at the Washington Park Arboretum…a coast redwood  (Sequoia sempervirens) which he planted in the south Pinetum as part of the Washington State Arbor Day program.   This tree has grown from a propagule (cutting) from the original tree named in 1989 during the State Centennial.  That tree was located at 201 Union Avenue SE, Olympia, WA, centered on a small knoll on property originally owned by Russell O’Brien, an Irish immigrant, and occupied by three generations of family thereafter.  The site is now called Centennial Park.  The tree was about 50 feet from the foundation of the old house that originally occupied the site, near a newer smaller home. (At this date, I have not been able to determine if the tree is still there, although I personally have visited it several times over the last 33 years.)

In 1998, the parent tree was at least 100 years old, 148 feet tall, and 67.2 inches in girth.  Ken Russell, Forest Pathologist, cored the tree and determined its age and wrote a description (1988) which is attached to our accession record. Other specific information can be found in the Washington State Historical Society records.  It is unknown how the tree arrived in Olympia and why it was planted on the O’Brien property.

Original certificate for the tree.

Original certificate for the tree.

In 1995, as Arboretum Director, I received an inquiry from Shelley Farber, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, asking if we would be interested in a propagule, since the DNR had several rooted trees which they wished to establish throughout the State of Washington. The official certificate is signed by Shelley on February 27, 1995 at 3:20 p.m.

The Arbor Day planting of the tree took place in a very heavy rain storm on the Washington State Arbor Day, April 12. 1995.  (The Washington State Arbor Day is a different day than the National Arbor Day).  The ceremony was attended by Dean David Thorud, UW College of Forestry, Clement Hamilton, Director of the Center for Urban Horticulture,  dignitaries from DNR, area high school students, and arboretum staff, myself included.  The arboretum staff (Christina Pfeiffer and David Zuckerman) had prepared a great planting site, with the tree (Accession #245-95) patiently waiting in its plastic pot.  After appropriate speeches, and with great gusto, the young tree was passed to David for planting preparation.  He lifted and tugged on the pot only to discover that it was totally pot bound, necessitating slicing off the pot.  Of course the roots were found to be one solid round core.   We all stood patiently for several minutes in the rain while David struggled to cut and loosen the roots, wanting to make sure the tree would survive. It has!  Finally, Governor Evans was able to plant the tree and we all quickly retreated for drier locations, leaving the staff to finish the planting job.

Governor Evans at the Arbor Day tree planting, April 12, 1995.

Governor Evans at the Arbor Day tree planting, April 12, 1995.

The Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree being transplanted, 2003.

The Daniel J. Evans Centennial Tree being transplanted, 2003.

The tree flourished well, but on September 23, 2003, it was moved a few feet north, thus giving it more space.  Todd Holm, from Olympic Tree Farm, was the tree spade contractor. The tree has continued to flourish. In 2003, it was measured by Randall Hitchin at 30 feet tall, with a 6 inch dbh.  Today, it is 70 feett tall with 20 inch dbh.

I often see Governor Evans enjoying a milkshake at one of his favorite haunts, Burgermaster.   Occasionally we chat about his tree, and he tells me that he regularly visits it with his family, including his grandchildren.   This in indeed a superb tribute to a great man with a great tree which will remain a legacy for at least another 100 years, a milestone he himself is within 10 years of achieving.

Capture the moment with botanical photography!

September 15th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Botanical Photography Classes with David Perrydavid_perry_bio3

David Perry is an inspirational, Seattle-based photographer, a willing teacher and a captivating storyteller with a keen knack for observation and a distinct twinkle in his eye. His reverence for gardens, flowers and the gardeners who tend them is apparent in the pictures he makes and his playful, sometimes irreverent manner of speaking about them keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.

David’s work has been featured on the cover of Fine Gardening four times in the past few years, and many times in Sunset, This Old House Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design, and Pacific Horticulture among others. His garden was recently featured by local Seattle Times garden columnist, Val Easton, in Pacific Northwest Magazine.

Students in David’s previous classes have raved about his teaching abilities, the individual attention given to each student, and his sense of humor.

Read on to discover three great opportunities to learn from David this fall and for you to become the botanical photographer you have always wanted to be!


Japanese Maple Photography Workshop

Washington Park Arboretum
2 parts: Mon., Sept. 28, 7-9pm & Sat., Oct. 3, 8:30am-12pm
Fee: $95 (the lecture on September 28, described in detail below, is included in this price)
Register online

This workshop includes both an instructional lecture and a photo-shooting workshop. The lecture will thoroughly cover the many styles of portraits that are possible and how they can translate across to plant photography. The full workshop is for those who wish to delve in further by participating in a hands-on workshop with shooting assignment. We will walk together to the Arboretum’s stunning collection of Japanese Maples to practice incorporating the portrait styles (The Close Up, The Environmental Portrait, The Group Photo, The Candid Portrait), and principles into our photographs. We will observe the Japanese custom of viewing autumn colors, known as “momijigari,” with our cameras, attempting to capture the essence, spirit and beauty of the Japanese Maples.

Picture Perfect Plant Portraits

***This lecture is included in the Japanese Maple Photography Workshop listed above.*** Anyone unable to make it to the Saturday photo shoot is welcome to sign up for the lecture alone.

Washington Park Arboretum
Mon., Sept 28, 7-9pm
Fee: $15
Register online

What is a plant portrait? At its most basic, a plant portrait is a likeness that celebrates the physical characteristics and ephemeral beauty of a plant. Plant portraits are a wonderful place to begin wading into the larger river of garden photography, but they are also a photographic art form that one will never outgrow. Join David E. Perry for a lively and inspiring exploration of his own adventures as a plant portraitist. Learn how to make better close-ups and how to capture the dreamy moods that will elicit the oohs and ahhs of others while showing the plants within a larger garden setting.


iPhone and iPad Botanical Photography

Center for Urban Horticulture
3 Thursday Afternoons, October 29th-November 12, 1-4pm
Fee $165
Register online

Become the master of your photographic domain. Learn to use the cameras you already have on your smartphone or tablet and the best photography apps to make pictures that can populate your website, portfolio, Instagram and Facebook pages. Learn from master photographer/storyteller David Perry, who has four covers for Fine Gardening magazine in the past two years, the most recent of which was shot with his pocket-sized point and shoot camera.


This is an opportunity not to miss! Call 206-685-8033 or email with any questions.


Student Spotlight: Nate Haan

September 14th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Nate in the Goodfellow Grove at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Nate is a PhD Candidate who became involved with UW Botanic Gardens when he joined Professor Jon Bakker’s lab at the Center for Urban Horticulture in 2013. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and moved to Seattle in 2013 to start his studies at the UW.

He enjoys spending time hiking and backpacking in the mountains or along the coast. He also spends a bit of time on art projects, usually printmaking.

Nate finished his bachelor’s degree at Calvin College in 2007, majoring in Biology.  His favorite class was called Plant Taxonomy, although it covered lots of topics other than taxonomy.  He loved it because they learned how to identify plants by their family characteristics, and had several field trips to forests, bogs and prairies to learn the local flora.  A few years later he was a Teaching Assistant for this class, and a few years after that was hired as the instructor.

Nate finished his M.S. at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment in 2010. His thesis was on ecological restoration in disturbed areas like roadsides.

Currently, he is working in prairies in the South Sound, studying Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and its interactions with its larval host plants. A typical day is usually spent in the greenhouse, watering or potting plants for various experiments. There is a captive population of checkerspot butterflies in the lab at most times, so he spends some time with various members of the lab taking care of them or setting up different experiments. Other than that, you can usually find him in the graduate office in Merrill Hall. Mostly, he enjoys coming up with new research ideas, learning new things, and occasionally getting his hands dirty.

Staff Spotlight: Lisa Sanphillippo

September 7th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Lisa_SanphillippoMeet Lisa Dora Sanphillippo! Lisa is the School Fieldtrips Coordinator for UW Botanic Gardens.

She lived in L.A. until she was 8 years old.  Her mom “got a little freaked out” by the big city, big crime and smog so she moved them to a tiny town in Idaho called Kamiah (population 2500).  The family lived in the middle of a National Forest and the Clearwater River. They swam with bass, rode horses, and learned to pee outside.

Lisa moved to Lewiston, Idaho in 1988 to attend Lewis-Clark State College where she studied theatre.  She moved to Seattle in 1992 to be with her boyfriend, and is married to him now (they have been together 23 years, married 18).

She still enjoys doing theatre from time to time and is currently co-writing a cabaret with the hope of producing this fall.  She enjoys photography, crafting, walking her dog, Franklin, and watching movies.
Lisa loves science and tries to learn more about the world around her all the time. She states that biology was/is her favorite class so far.

Lisa started as a volunteer with UW Botanic Gardens in the fall of 2003.  She applied for the job previously held by Shawna Zuege.  Chris Berry (the Supervisor at the time) asked Lisa if she would volunteer, and she did.  Two years later, Chris moved on, Shawna moved up, and so did Lisa.

A typical day at work for Lisa involves e-mail, development of program activities or curricula, brainstorming with colleagues, and hanging out with/teaching kids.  Her favorite activity is spending time with kids, though she loves that she has a variety of duties.

Lisa has several favorite places at UW Botanic Gardens, though she states the Winter Garden is probably her top choice. It is the most wonderful place to visit to enjoy the fragrance, color, and texture of the plants when it is cold and dreary in the middle of January.  This lifts her spirits and helps her deal with the short days.  She also adores the way the Winter Garden is designed to resemble the layout of a room, including an entry way and living room.

Her favorite tree at the Washington Park Arboretum at the moment (and for a long time) is the State Champion Malus fusca or Pacific crabapple that can be found just up the ramp from the Graham Visitors Center.  The bark is twisted, which makes it seem like it is in motion — or maybe those twists and furrows are its wrinkles; it is old, possibly 100 years or more.  It’s a champion because it is wider than it is tall.  The last measurement she knows of stated it was 45 feet tall and 75 feet wide.  The branches reach to the right and left like it is welcoming you.

Lisa also loves Azara microphylla because they are pretty droopy little trees that smell like cocoa butter in winter.  Lisa loves our own native Sitka spruce because they are ancient giants that live in an amazing forest ecosystem.  She loves snowbells and crocus that herald the coming of spring.  But, right now, her favorite is the Baobab tree.  She has loved them since childhood when she read The Little Prince.  It is on her bucket list to see them in their native habitat.

Lisa’s favorite walk is through the oaks, down the trail parallel to Azalea Way to the Walnuts and up to Honeysuckle hill, through the Viburnums and back up and out to Azalea Way to visit the big pond.

Student Spotlight: Anna Carragee

August 31st, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor



Meet Anna Louise Carragee.  Anna is a Master of Environmental Horticulture student in the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and she will start her second year this fall.  She has 3 part-time positions at UW Botanic Gardens: Greenhouse Assistant, Nursery Manager for the Society for Ecological Restoration – UW Chapter’s Native Plant Nursery (housed at the Center for Urban Horticulture), and a short-term position to support the City’s Seattle reLeaf program to help re-inventory and evaluate the health of street trees planted with the Trees for Neighborhoods project.

Anna is from Wayne, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia.  She moved to Seattle to start school at UW last year.  She was attracted to Seattle since it is a large city with excellent access to the mountains.  Anna likes to hike, bike, contra dance, attend concerts, care for her indoor plants, and read.

Anna attended the University of Vermont and studied Ecology for her undergraduate degree.  Her favorite class was dendrology, which was life-changing because she suddenly saw all the trees in much more detail and gained greater understanding of the ecology of the northern hardwood forests of Vermont.  Anna’s favorite class at UW so far is Plant Ecophysiology, which she also found to be life-changing.  Her understanding of plants increased exponentially in ten very quick weeks.

As a student in the Master of Environmental Horticulture program, Anna has many classes in the greenhouse and in the Douglas Research Conservatory at the Center for Urban Horticulture. She has had the chance to meet the staff of UW Botanic Gardens and be involved in really interesting projects this summer.

On a typical day, Anna waters the potted plants in Merrill Hall and maintains the plants in the research yard near the hoophouses.  When working for Seattle reLeaf, she drives all over the city surveying street trees planted in the last 3-5 years.  Her favorite part of her jobs is watching plants put on new growth and seeing the colors of the Soest garden change over the season.

Anna’s favorite part of the UW Botanic Gardens gardens is the New Zealand forest at the Washington Park Arboretum; she studied in New Zealand and recalls the fun she had there.

Her favorite tree is the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) because she loves large shade trees that also have “showy” flowers. Also, growing up in Pennsylvania she had many tall tulip poplars in her backyard that shed flowers and seeds — which provided hours of amusement for Anna and her friends!

Botanical Sketching, and I Need a Pen

August 26th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

Our first offering of Botanical Sketching in Ink and Watercolor wraps up this week. This popular series will be offered again this fall on Monday mornings, starting October 5. Learn more and register.


Blog post by Saffron Hefta-Gaub, summer communications volunteer

August 3, 2015

Today I showed up at the UW Botanic Gardens right at 10:00 am, to sit in on the first Botanical Sketching and Watercolor class. This class is to grow one’s skills in capturing flowers and foliage, with quick techniques and portable materials. Of course, the skills learned here can be applied to all sketching, our teacher herself isn’t an entirely landscape artist. The class looks to be of a fair price, though fortunately I got to sit in free.

When I walked up to the Gardens, I was a little confused and tried to follow signs to the class location. Thankfully, I spotted Jessica who guided me towards the greenhouses where the classes were located. When I was browsing events to attend, this one caught my eye because of my previous dabble in the art of sketching. I even brought my own sketch book, though I doubted I’d participate. Unfortunately I learned that the class was in pen, no pencil allowed, and pencil was all I had brought. Oh well.

The class was sold out, ten adults, all with some history/interest in art or gardening. Our teacher was Lisa Snow Lady. Yes, that’s her real name. Snow Lady. Pretty awesome right? She commented on that and I took note. I love your name Lisa! Our instructor was soft spoken and kind. Her education was at the University of Washington, in art, but she also had a certificate in Ornamental Horticulture. She introduced herself first before we went around the table to introduce ourselves. I actually didn’t introduce myself, apparently Ms. Snow Lady, who knew I was coming, told the participants about me before I showed up, because one of the ladies asked if I was the intern. Intern sounds so official! As for the names of the people in the class, they blended together, similar names from the same generation. Patsy, Pattie, Barbara, Bobby. I noticed one man biked here. He got me. I can’t drive, so I bike most places when I need to get there independently. I biked to my play when it was still going on. Speaking of the play, hope I don’t get too sentimental about it here, closing night was only three days ago. Let’s get to the class!

LeavesTo start off she showed us her own work, as well as the work of students past and some art off the internet. Next we ran over the materials list that had been next to the check in list. Turns out Sharpies are amazing, great for sketching when watercolor washes will be used, as their ink won’t run. As for the holding of paint, pan trays, the plastic dividers like the ones you used when you were a kid, work great as well. Or paints in an Altoids tin can function.

After we finished the list, Lisa brought out a giant bundle of leaves for us to practice with. I say “us” but honestly I did nothing but observe and daydream. Lisa used the sudden bunch of green to point out and explain the difference in leaf shape, in the veins, and the different locations leaves can be on the stem. Though Lisa said she didn’t remember much from her botanical classes, the class was a study in both art and nature. Next were warm ups, getting used to the feel of the pen. Like me, most people use pencils, so drawing with a permanent, smoother writing utensil can take practice. These warm ups consisted of picking a leaf, and scribbling in it’s shape on scratch paper. I watched the black leaves that emerged from the other students’ pens and, even though they were sketches of sketches, even simple sketching is beautiful if you think about it. Next was blind contouring, a game I had played myself, which consists of not looking at your paper as you draw an object, or as Lisa described it, feeling the edge. People chuckled at the designs that emerged from their blind drawings. The next activity added to that, where one could look at their hand briefly, only to connect slips in the the paper. The key was to feel the edge of the leaf. The next add-in was focus on the veins.

While I sat there, listening to Lisa and not drawing unlike everyone else, I noticed another woman and I kept alternating yawns, in a completely tired and non-rude way. What, I’m a teenager who likes sleep, I’m tired every morning. I don’t know about the woman.

I am a teenager, and I try to be as interesting and polite as possible, but my mind still wanders and it seems in this post that aspect of my writing is shining through more. I attribute that to being tired during the class and not being able to participate fully. That is why, both in class and here, I’m trying to keep all thoughts away from getting sentimental about people I meet only four weeks ago, and the direction I know Buffy the Vampire Slayer is headed. Buffy is the show I’m currently binge watching. However, this entire paragraph has been about me and not the class so I guess I failed in that task. I apologize. I honestly did start to daydream about Buffy because, despite having art skills, I did not have supplies! I had a sketchbook, but not a pen. Stupid pens.

FountainFinally my endless loop of silly thoughts were broken by the end of warm ups and Lisa’s call to go outside. We went out to the garden to observe the texture of the leaves and get some real drawing in. The gardens are absolutely lovely, with a beautiful fountain in the middle that kept my company when everyone else drew. However, before everyone scattered off to sketch, Lisa gave a quick demonstration on how she was able to draw using a permanent marker to make quick lines that formed a lovely bunch of leaves. From there, students went off and picked their own section of garden to sketch by themselves for half an hour. If only I had brought a pen I’d have been drawing too. Thankful it was a beautiful day so I wasn’t unhappy. A plaque with the phrase “unusual foliage” caught my eye. Unusual Foliage needs to be a band name. The class definitely seems like an interesting and worthy class if you love to sketch gardens, and bring paper and pen. I didn’t bring a pen. Everyone else did and they had a great time. Lisa went around checking in on people like a good teacher should. Now I realize, writing up these notes,  that Lisa said she’d look out for the blog post. Whoops. Lisa, when you read this blog post know I loved the class. I was just frustrated with not sketching when I didn’t bring a pen because I thought it was against the Volunteer Write Up Crew code or something. Nah, it was really because I was too lazy to bring a pen. Is this whole blog post me complaining about a pen? I’m so sorry. Please sign up for this class, well, not this class because it’s already full, sold out, due to what a great offering it is. But Jessica notified me the Botanical Gardens are going to offer it again in the fall. Please sign up for the fall offering. I promise, anyone, no matter what your skill, can participate.

As soon as it was getting too hot we went back inside to finish up for the day. Lisa said the class did really well for their first time and I’m disappointed not to come again to see how much they develop over the next four weeks.  The final thing I learned is that sketching is both easier and harder than you think. The final activity was cleaning up the room, and then I left. Another event complete. This job is fun. If you have a pen.

Saffron Hefta-Gaub


Student Spotlight: Regina Wandler

August 24th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor


Regina Wandler is a graduate student in the Master of Environmental Horticulture program, within the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. For her masters project, she is working with UW Botanic Gardens to develop a continuing education program for restoration professionals in the Pacific Northwest.

Regina grew up in Everett, WA (pretty local!) and went to UW for her undergraduate education as well. She knows she is lucky to have been in this beautiful area all her life and to have almost all of her wonderful extended family here. She moved back down south to Seattle from Skagit County to begin her masters program, though she still works for Skagit Land Trust.  She loves skiing, hiking, camping, road tripping or otherwise traveling and exploring, botanizing, cooking and baking, playing board games, brewing beer and reading sci-fi and fantasy. When Regina has free time, she likes to spend some of it at her family’s tree farm on the Kitsap Peninsula.

As an undergraduate, she double-majored in two amazing UW programs – Community, Environment and Planning (CEP) and Comparative History of Ideas (CHID). She minored in Program on the Environment and Architecture (she states “obviously, I had some trouble focusing on just one interdisciplinary field!”).
She loved so many of her classes, especially the core CEP classes that covered everything from concepts of community to social processes and place based education. Old Growth Forest Management with Jerry Franklin was one of the most engaging non-CEP classes she took during undergrad years, though her thought-provoking Love and Attraction CHID thesis seminar with Philip Thurtle was right up there. As a graduate student, she had many more classes that were truly enjoyable.  She thinks Plant Ecophysiology, with Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz, was very challenging, worthwhile, and found herself going back to the concepts covered again and again.

Regina volunteered as a class monitor during her first quarter of graduate school, and ended up deciding to take on the UW Botanic Gardens research project after talking with Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor.

As a student, she has classes which use the UW Botanic Gardens as an outdoor learning space – for example, a spring plant identification class regularly met in the Washington Park Arboretum. The buildings that classes meet in within the UW Botanic Gardens are some of the nicest, greenest spots on campus to spend time in learning. She also uses the botanic gardens as a personal space to relax from the stresses of balancing graduate school and a job, walking the trails or canoeing along the shoreline. For her project, she primarily works with UW Botanic Gardens staff and other engaged restoration professionals throughout the greater Seattle area.  It has been a great way to continue learning about the restoration field and discuss topics of interest within the local and larger community.

There are so many beautiful spaces to choose from at UW Botanic Gardens! Since it’s sunny, she has to say her current favorite spot is the swimming beach at Foster Island in the Arboretum – there’s not a nicer spot to jump in anywhere in Seattle! She also loves the portion of the Arboretum to the south of the Visitors Center filled with pine trees – there’s something wonderfully soothing about walking over a carpet of needles even when she can’t make it over to Eastern Washington for a visit.

Regina’s favorite plant is the Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant). She loves how the delicate looking, striking fronds stand up or lay flat, radiating out on the ground around it, and how the frond ends spiral in. It’s not everywhere around here like sword ferns, and she has always associated it with camping on the Olympic Peninsula as a child. Now she finds it in hidden corners of Western Washington tucked underneath more obvious canopy species, and always takes a minute to stop and appreciate it.

Glimpse into the past – Dr. James R. Clark

August 18th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Tukey and Clark
Since its founding 35 years ago, the Center for Urban Horticulture (now a part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens) has produced numerous students, staff, and faculty who have continued on to illustrious horticultural careers. A few days ago, I received this photograph of Dr. Harold B. Tukey, Jr., founding director, and associate professor James R. Clark. They are examining a tree experiment in the nursery area of the Center.  Since the then-new Merrill Hall is in the background, without Isaacson Hall, I would date the picture in the spring of 1985. It was obviously taken by the Seattle Times, for publicity of the newly developing Center, which would become an international model.

Dr. Clark and I were the two early faculty hires for the Center, and he arrived a few months after I did in the summer of 1981.  He holds a B.S. in Plant Science, an M.S. in Horticulture from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of California, Davis.  He was a faculty member at Michigan State University from 1971 to 1981.  He was extremely instrumental in the early development of the Center from 1981 to 1991.

Upon arrival, Dr. Clark quickly developed programs in urban forestry and tree physiology.  He proved that garden sites closer to our major highways often had higher concentrations of heavy metals.  He worked closely with nurserymen and arborists, as well as the public.  In his work with the late Marvin Black, Seattle City arborist, who was responsible for putting trees back on Seattle streets, he studied the adverse growing conditions for street trees in Seattle.  He also worked with the new immersion exhibits in Woodland Park Zoo.

Dr. Clark and I shared the wooden “chicken coop-like” Medicinal building still lounging near the Botany Greenhouse on campus from 1981-84. It also housed our secretary Diana Perl. It was Dr. Clark who suggested that we teach a required course on public speaking for all our graduate students, which ultimately became the first Center for Urban Horticulture-taught course on campus.  Upon his departure, I taught the course until I retired in 2006.   Dr. Sarah Reichard continues that legacy.  Over the years, I have heard from people all over the world that they can tell the “Center for Urban Horticulture-trained students,” who know precisely how to deliver both a scientific talk and an extension-style public presentation.

Dr. Clark went on to become vice president of HortScience, Inc., located in Pleasanton, California. It is a consulting firm providing horticultural, arboricultural and urban forestry services.  Dr. Clark has developed a model of sustainable urban forest management, is experienced in designing and implementing field research, and frequently serves as an expert witness.  He is also the coauthor of four books and has published over 30 articles in scientific journals including Arboriculture & Urban Forestry (formerly Journal of Arboriculture), Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science, Arboricultural Journal and Journal of Environmental Horticulture. He continues to lecture on arboriculture and urban forestry worldwide.  He is recognized internationally by the International Society of Arboriculture and has received many rewards including the Alex Shigo Award for Arboricultural Education.

An Artist’s Reception of Color and Wandering

August 7th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

This post is brought to you by our summer communications volunteer, Saffron Hefta-Gaub. Saffron is a sophomore at the Bush School in Seattle, Washington, and we are delighted to share her perspectives on UW Botanic Gardens’ spaces and programs. 

July 23, 2015

Lollie Groth Artist Reception 1
The “Lake, Lattice, Stone: Requiem for a Garden” artist’s reception I went to on this day offered not only a unique opportunity into art, but also insight into the Elisabeth C. Miller Library’s gallery. Before I begin, take note that the reception occurred two weeks ago and I am just now writing about it. BUT the artwork will be shown until September 3rd, so don’t miss the rare opportunity to see Lollie Groth’s amazing work!

First off, I’d like to say my two favorite pieces of art are the Fortune Bird collage and the Perennial Garden viscosity monotype with chine collé. Yes, I had to write down what the specific art form was, I’m not an expert okay? All of the art was beautiful, but I highly recommend you look out for these specific pieces. As for the most interesting art, the monotype with chine collé Alchemy of Place caught my eye, as well as Lake Lattice Stone, a viscosity monotype. My actual experience at the reception, as you will read below, consisted of mostly of me wandering about, and all I really wrote down were these art piece names. As for what else I did, well…

I showed up at the Botanical Garden’s location around 5:30, and wandered into a room of older people I knew I could not make small talk with. So I snagged some snacks, nibbling away as I peered at the art. I was stealing free food, muhahahaha! Also a sparkly water, because the guy who was serving drinks gave me a strange look when I walked up to him and told me which bottle was the water. But really, I did appreciate the art, being a child of a photographer and an artist myself. The people around me gave me odd but hopefully welcoming looks. Soon I saw Jessica, whom I knew was going to be there, and got a sharp, happy burst of not being alone. She introduced me to the artist, the lovely Lollie Groth, who smiled at me and asked briefly about my blog before wandering away. Really, half of the event consisted of wandering. Lollie Groth Artist Reception 2

Jessica also introduced me to a woman who worked at the library, Tracy Mehlin. Clutching my fizzy non-alcohol drink, we retreated to the back corner of the library so I could ask her a few questions about the way the gallery works. She started off with telling me what they tell all possible artists first, they’re “a library first, not a gallery.” Artists often come to them, either by filling out a form on their website, or by coming into the library itself, seeing the art, and inquiring. Sometimes people mention artists whom they contact themselves, but that is rare. After the initial inquiry, the library talks to them about it, and once the artist is ready, they apply. The library looks at the artist’s work, by email or in person. Thematically they look for flowers, landscape, natural in style. Lollie’s art is a more abstract version of that, but has many references to her mother’s garden, in both name and image. Sometimes the art is more literal, with photos of actual flowers and plants, or even birds in the natural area around the library. One more abstract example was once they hosted a quilt exhibit! Abstract and literal are both fine, it’s the theme that takes priority.

As for how Lollie Groth came to the exhibit, she contacted them, as her mother lived in the area and she often visited. The library schedules shows in advance of about a year, so it was difficult for Tracy to properly remember what happened. For sure, Lollie Groth came to the library about a year before, art ready to show.

Tracy’s favorite part of Lollie’s work was the multimedia aspect, the layered collage style. Lollie uses monotype prints, one-time prints that can be assembled into awesomeness. It was hard for Tracy to explain exactly what the best part was because she did not have an artist’s knowledge of specific vocabulary, but the bright color and the images designed within images were her favorite highlight of the art. I agreed that those were some of my favorite aspects as well.

One amusing thing, listening back to the recording of the interview, was that Jessica popped her head in midway to let me know she was leaving, off to a charity concert, and soon after, once the interview was over, with no one else to talk too, I left too (my mom had to wait outside the whole time, which I feel bad about). Before I left, however, I did hover around trying to work up the courage to say goodbye and congratulate Lollie on her art. Unfortunately, I didn’t. This was pre-play Saffron who wasn’t as ready to take chances. Oh did I mention I was in a play? Yeah, that’s what has been taking up my time, time when I should have been writing this.

Sometimes my thoughts are muddled, and I hope I can make some sense and get through to you, the diligent, maybe nonexistent reader. Sometimes I really want to get meta and ramble about stuff because I doubt anyone is reading this. Or maybe they are. Some little part of me wants some random person to find this strange corner of the internet with my blog on the UW Botanic Garden’s website, where in a place one would expect talk of flowers and bookkeeping, there’s teenage me trying to be relatable to everyone (but instead I blabber about tv shows and my attempts at being polite). Wouldn’t it be funny if one day a gardener stumbles in here and I’m rambling about humans’ very existence? It’s fine though, it’s not like anyone is actually reading this, right? Right? Okay, back to actually event discussion.

Except there’s not much event left to discuss. This has been a sadly short post for which I apologize. I hope you have a great day. See, I try to be polite!