Kayak Tours at the Arboretum Start Aug 29

August 23rd, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Discover Hidden Water-ways on a Guided Kayak Tour of the Washington Park Arboretum.

Paddling through the cattail marsh last summer.

The UWBG is unique among other botanic gardens in the country in that our “grounds” include quite a bit of water. Owing to our location around Lake Washington, our approximately 300 acres include the longest stretch of freshwater marsh in Washington State. There is no better way to enjoy this wetland ecosystem than by kayak.

The Agua Verde Paddle Club in partnership with the UWBG is pleased to offer guided kayak tours of our Foster Island Wetlands to the public for the third consecutive summer. Tours are approximately 90 minutes in length and push off from “Duck Bay” at the north end of the Washington Park Arboretum.

During the tour you will learn a little about the history of the area and have a chance to meet some of our plant and animal residents. All proceeds will go from Agua Verde Paddle Club to the UWBG for the Agua Verde Scholarship fund. This fund will help provide educational opportunities to students and schools with limited resources.

No experience necessary. Double kayaks, safety equipment and a brief training session will be provided by Agua Verde Paddle Club. Youth & children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by their parent/guardian.

Tour Dates & Times:

Wednesday, Aug. 29th: 11am & 3pm

Thursday, Aug. 30th: 11am & 3pm

Wednesday, Sept. 5th: 11am & 3pm

Thursday, Sept. 6th: 11am & 3pm

Friday, Sept. 7th: 7am (“early birders”), 11am & 3pm

Cost & Registration:

Space is limited to 12 participants per tour, so pre-registration is required. Cost: $30/person; ($5 discount for early registration before August 1st)

Register online

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Family Ecology Tours

June 14th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

We’re excited to announce a new focus area for UWBG’s Education & Outreach Program at the Washington Park Arboretum – families!  We’ve done School Fieldtrips since the 80′s and will be offering Summer Camps for 1st – 6th graders for the second year come July, but we’d like to engage an older audience too. adults, after all, are really just big kids.


So be on the lookout for our new “Family Ecology Tours” and help us bring our fun, hands-on version of environmental education to “kids” of all ages.

Our first program is this Saturday, so come join us!

 

(“Park in the Dark” night hikes just around the corner)

June 16th: Citizen Science: Water Works for 6-12 year olds, 1-3pm

Help us kick off our participation in the “World Water Monitoring Challenge” – an international education and outreach program to build public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. Come learn about our watershed, water quality testing and the world of water. We will collect our first set of water quality data from Lake Washington, play some games, dip for macro invertebrates and dive into ways to keep our water clean.

 

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More Service Learning at the Arboretum

June 12th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Posted on behalf of Will Pleskow, UW student and UWBG volunteer service learner


 

I never thought weeds would be so endless and time consuming but I certainly have a new perspective on weeding after many back-breaking hours digging out seemingly endless little green plants. All of the planting and weeding that I have done and will do take place right outside the greenhouse in a secluded part of the Arboretum used for plant propagation. The vegetable garden has lain fallow for many months so as you can imagine the weeds were quite healthy at the start of the quarter.  The two primary weeds are shotweed (Cardamine hirsute) and horsetail (Equisetum sp.).  Horsetails were some of the first land plants to evolve on planet earth and continue to make their impact on gardens as well as my back.

Shotweed is a small  plant that has green leaves and sometimes a yellow-white flower budding from the middle. It’s native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It’s part of the mustard family and is the only weed I encountered at the Arboretum that is edible. Shotweed flowers early in the spring up until autumn.  After budding Shotweed develops seeds in pods that are highly sensitive and will often burst upon being touched “shooting” its seeds flying in a close proximity to its mother plant. The easy distribution of seeds is what makes this plant multiply and infest so quickly. Often times removing all of the shotweeds visible with the naked eye is not enough as their seeds may still lie around buried in the soil.  Due to shotweed distinct qualities it makes it a difficult weed to eradicate and is therefore very prevalent in many parts of the world.

Horsetail is about 1 – 2 feet tall and sticks straight up with whisker-like leaves coming off the sides that give it its distinct look and name. Horsetails, like ferns, are plants that reproduce with spores rather than seeds. Despite its irritating affect when dealing with in the garden, this fascinating plant is a “living fossil” and one of the oldest land plants on earth dating back some 375 million years. This remarkable weed is found everywhere in the world except Antarctica. The horsetail prefers wet sandy soils but is adaptable to almost any type of soil. The stalks start deep beneath the ground, which make it hard to dig out, and also very enduring. In addition, it is also unaffected by many herbicides so the only way to remove this weed is by hand. Horsetail along with shotweed makes for a very lethal duo in the garden and creates a situation where one must constantly be weeding to sustain a healthy garden.

With the new experience I have gained by volunteering at the Arboretum this quarter, I plan to grow and cultivate a sustainable and environmentally friendly garden of my own. This ties directly with what we have been discussing in class and the strong importance professor Litfin places on “knowing where your food is coming from.” I hope one day to have a garden of my own where I can grow my own plants and provide food for myself from my very own garden. This service learning project has been a great opportunity to get hands-on experience with growing and cultivating food in an environmentally friendly and healthy way.

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Summer Kayak Tours at the Arboretum

June 8th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Paddling through the cattail marsh last summer.

 

Discover Hidden Water-ways on a Guided Kayak Tour of the Washington Park Arboretum.

The UWBG is unique among other botanic gardens in the country in that our “grounds” include quite a bit of water. Owing to our location around Lake Washington, our approximately 300 acres include the longest stretch of freshwater marsh in Washington State. There is no better way to enjoy this wetland ecosystem than by kayak.

The Agua Verde Paddle Club in partnership with the UWBG is pleased to offer guided kayak tours of our Foster Island Wetlands to the public for the third consecutive summer. Tours are approximately 90 minutes in length and push off from “Duck Bay” at the north end of the Washington Park Arboretum.

During the tour you will learn a little about the history of the area and have a chance to meet some of our plant and animal residents.  All proceeds will go from Agua Verde Paddle Club to the UWBG for the Agua Verde Scholarship fund. This fund will help provide educational opportunities to students and schools with limited resources.

No experience necessary. Double kayaks, safety equipment and a brief training session will be provided by Agua Verde Paddle Club. Youth & children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by their parent/guardian.

Tour Dates & Times:

Wednesday, Aug. 29th: 11am & 3pm

 Thursday, Aug. 30th: 11am & 3pm

Wednesday, Sept. 5th: 11am & 3pm

Thursday, Sept. 6th: 11am & 3pm

Friday, Sept. 7th: 7am (“early birders”), 11am & 3pm

Cost & Registration:

Space is limited to 12 participants per tour, so pre-registration is required. Cost: $30/person; ($5 discount for early registration before August 1st)

Register online

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Green Weed Managment

June 8th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Posted on behalf of UW student and UWBG volunteer intern, Mitch Halliday.

Mitch volunteered at the Arboretum this past quarter as one of our “Greenhouse and Vegetable Garden Caretakers”.  The endless task of weeding the garden beds obviously had an impact. 


Mitch and his girlfriend planting beets, beans & kohlrabi

 

Vinegar Weed Killer:

Vinegar contains a weak acid, Acetic acid.  By applying this vinegar to the soil, it lowers the pH, increasing the acidity, of the soil from a range that is tolerable to an intolerable level.  Most vinegars have an acid content of around 5%, a more concentrated solution of 10% to 20% will more effectively kill weeds.  This is not however a miracle solution, at the right strength this organic weed killer will kill the leaves of any plant it comes in contact with, but not the roots.  Which makes this treatment most effective on young weeds which do not have enough energy stored in their roots to successfully regrow.  Repeated applications will be needed to permanently disable more established weeds.

Vinegar Weed Killer Recipe[1]

• 120 mls (4 ounces) Lemon juice concentrate

• 1 liter (1 quart) white or cider vinegar

Spray bottle for applying organic weed killer Simply mix the two ingredients together in a spray bottle and you have your organic weed killer formula.

Spot spray it directly on the weeds, being careful not to spray desirable plants. For the most effective result the best time to spray is during the heat of the day.

 

Weed Killer #2[2]

  • 1 tbsp gin
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dish detergent
  • 1 quart water

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a spray bottle. This method will kill the roots, but will prevent growth afterwards for 3-5 days, so it should be used  in an area that you do not intend to plant in.

 

Traditional Methods[3]:

  1. Weeding, we all know how tedious and back-breaking it can be, but it is the most effective natural method of controlling weeds.  To make things easier on yourself weed after it has rained or wet the ground around weeds to make them easier to pull out.  An investment into a few weeding tools will go a long way as well.
  2. Pour boiling water on weeds.  Making pasta or boiling potatoes for dinner?  Instead of pouring that hot water down the drain, pour the water your weeds and they will shrivel and die in a few days.
  3. Blackout.  All plants need sunlight to survive, weeds are no different.  By layering newspaper or scrap paper (it’s biodegradable) over the weeds and blocking out the sunlight they will die.
  4. Eat ‘em.  Many of the weeds present in our gardens are in fact edible.  Dandelion leaves, for example are excellent in a tossed salad.  I would suggest picking up a book about wild-forage from a library or book store.
  5. The hardest of all, Learn to love them.  Maybe it’s time to appreciate these little plants for their natural beauty, hardiness, and pervasiveness.

 


[1] “Organic Weed Killer Formula: Natural Homemade Vinegar Weed Killer Recipe..” Sustainable    Living on a Small                                Farm the Permaculture Way. Web. 6 June 2012. <http://www.small-farm-permaculture-and-sustainable      -living.com/organic_weed_killer_formula.html>.

[2] Richford, Nannette. “DIY: How to Make Organic Weed Killer.” Yahoo Voices.  Web. 6 June 2012.                                               <voices.yahoo.com/diy-organic-weed-killer-1393951.html>.

[3] Yeager, Jeff. “Homemade Organic Weed Killers.” The Daily Green. Web. 6 June 2012.                                                                   <http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/homemade-weed-killers#fbIndex1>.

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Aspiring Plant Geek

June 1st, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

posted on behalf of UW Student and Arboretum volunteer extraordinaire, Lora Mitchell

Aspiring Plant Geek, Lora Mitchell

This quarter I signed up for an environmental studies course that offered service learning. Upon first learning about the service learning program I was intrigued, but slightly hesitant until I saw a position at the Washington State Arboretum. Thrilled at the idea of working with plants the entire quarter I immediately signed up for that position. You see, I’m a biology major who also happened to be talking a lant identification course this quarter as well. I figured working at the arboretum would not only be a great experience in it of itself, but it could also help me learn plant families. My job consisted of making plant ID sheets and eventually tweeting about current plants in bloom around the arboretum. With summer around the corner, being able to walk along hidden paths throughout the arboretum discovering plants I had never heard of or seen before was amazing. Informing the community about native plants is important in building a sustainable future. Some of my favorite discoveries include…

Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata)

The beautiful Dove Tree, part of the family Cornaceae (Dogwoods) was in bloom on my last visit to the arboretum. When first seeing this plant I initially thought it to be a magnolia, but after learning its name discovered it’s actually part of the dogwood family.

Now,  Magnolia sinensis is one of the most beautiful magnolias I had ever seen. It is endemic, or restricted to, China and is being threatened by habitat loss.

 

 

 

The Golden English Oak (Quercus robur ‘Concordia’) glistens in the sun, making it hard not to notice. Native to Europe, with bright golden-yellow leaves, this tree made me stop in my tracks. On that beautiful May afternoon I stood for a while and looked in awe.

Overall, I have enjoyed my experience at the Arboretum this spring quarter. I have learned a lot more about various plants and will definitely make a habit of stopping by from time to just to look around. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to help during the summer.

 

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Service Learning at the ARB

May 17th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Posted on behalf of Alyce Flanagan, UW student intern

our first planting


This spring one of my classes gave me the option of doing a service-learning project instead of writing a research paper. I jumped at the opportunity to gain some sort of real world experience instead of sitting in the library.  I ended up volunteering in the vegetable garden at the UWBG Arboretum, and it has been an enjoyable experience.  It is great to have an excuse to spend a few hours outside, get dirt on my hands and learn about growing food.  The class that my arboretum service learning is connected to is Global Food Policy.  Modern cultures have become extremely disconnected from our sources of food.  Technology allows for the mass production of cheap food, and working in a garden has given me perspective on how what it takes to grow vegetables.

Food is a vital resource that is frequently taken for granted.  Growing and gathering food is something that was an integral part of our ancestors’ lifestyles.  In recent years, we have grown away from this routine.  Food is bought from the grocery store, and we have only a vague idea of where it was before that. My Global Food Policy class looked at where food was before it got to the store.  Our severe disconnection from the production of the food we eat is unfortunate, but it is a system that we are totally reliant on. Learning about food; where is comes from and how its grown, is the first step to not taking food and this its large scale production for granted.

Food sovereignty is an issue that relates to peoples right to decide what food they eat, where it comes from, and how it is produced.  In America, most people would say that they have the right to choose their food, but in reality, much of our food is under the control of a few big agricultural businesses.  Growing at least some of our own food is an important step towards food sovereignty.

future pickles

The vegetable garden at the UWBG Arboretum is intended to teach children about the process of growing food, and hopefully inspire in them an interest in growing their own food. Volunteering at the Arb has done just that for me.  Watching plants grow over the course of a few months is somehow exciting and motivational.  Hopefully sometime in the next few years I will be able to start a garden and become at least a little less reliant on the mysterious system that produces food that feeds the world.

I am looking forward to visiting during the summer and seeing how the garden has changed.

3 sisters garden

 

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Nature’s Calendar Tours

March 29th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum) on Foster Island

As of February, we’ve started offering our Weekend Walks every Sunday at 1pm. These guided tours are free and open to the public, are 90 minutes in length, and leave from the Graham Visitors Center. Each month we choose a different theme to talk about. The following is a description of April’s theme written by Catherine Nelson, the newest addition to the UWBG Education & Outreach team.

Have you ever dissected a flower to see what they are made of and how pollination really works? Have you ever visited our Pollination Garden to learn about and observe our most over-worked and under-appreciated staff members (from a safe distance of course)? Are you curious about what’s going on in the soil this time of year? Or do you just want to see some amazing spring bloomers on display here in the Washington Park Arboretum and perhaps learn a bit on the way?

Our theme for April’s Weekend Walks is “Nature’s Calendar”. During these tours, we will be focusing on phenology, the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle events (or phenophases). Phenophases include budburst, leafing & flowering, maturation of seeds, emergence of insects & pollinators, and migration of birds. The term phenology comes from the Greek word phaino meaning “to show” or  “appear”.

Spring is the perfect time to be in the WPA looking for various phenophases, and during our “Nature’s Calendar” tours guides will take visitors on a leisurely walk in search of the early flowering trees and shrubs in our collection and discuss what is happening during this phenologically active time of year.

We hope you join us!

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The value of getting kids outside

February 8th, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

I had the pleasure of attending the NW Flower & Garden Show Preview Gala last night, hosted by the Arboretum Foundation in partnership with Seattle Audubon. It was a good time and I was given the honor or saying a few words to drum up donor support for the UWBG Education & Outreach Program here at the Arb. One of the questions that Dick, the emcee, fired my way had to do with the value of getting kids outside into places like the WPA. I fumbled a bit, but said something about how being in nature can at once calm the mind while stimulating it, and how volumes have been written about the benefits associated with being outdoors.
I thought about this question some more on my bike ride to work this morning (when I normally do my best thinking). It dawned on me that the ultimate goal of environmental education has got to be establishing a sense of belonging to something bigger than oneself – to feel a kinship with the world around us. We humans are not above or separate from life on earth; we’re merely part of it, “cogs in a wheel” as Aldo Leopold would say.
The value of getting kids outside and allowing them to explore the world around them is crucial in establishing this kinship. When it doesn’t happen, a disconnect results and we end up with a citizenry that thinks food comes from grocery stores, and energy from light switches. We end up with economies based on perpetual growth that don’t calculate true costs and carrying capacities. And we end up with governments that only look out for their own best interests; forests, reefs, and ice-caps be damned! Contrary to popular practice, natural resources like clean air/water/soil, petroleum/wood/fish, are not limitless. Those who see the birds and trees as equals know this and act accordingly, but unfortunately, we are a minority.
But we’re still here and we’re recruiting! If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, join us in any way that works for you. Send your kids to our upcoming Spring Break Camp; take a Weekend Walk with us any Sunday of the month; volunteer with us to lead School Fieldtrips or remove invasive weeds; become an Arboretum Foundation member; or simply step outside and take a hike! John Muir perhaps said it best, “in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” And after receiving, think about how you can give back to ensure that generations to come have something to receive as well.

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Fall Harvest Hunt

November 15th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

 

Fall is a magical time of year in the Washington Park Arboretum. The sun-breaks, though few and far between, cast a glow on the myriad shades of change as if looking through some sort of filter. The air is crisp and clear and smells like a fort built by small hands for big and imaginative reasons. Walking through the woods, trudging through the leaves sends one’s mind toward the snow to come. I happened upon a collection of families yesterday armed with rakes and aspirations to make the biggest leaf pile ever. Their shrieks of unbound enjoyment were music to my ears as they leaped and swam about – good clean fun at its finest. McDonald’s ball-pit, eat your heart out.

If you’re one of those families that likes to get outside and enjoy each others company in the company of trees and birds and squirrels, we’re making it easy for you. Come take part in our inaugural “Fall Harvest Hunt”, a self-guided scavenger hunt at the Arboretum. There will be 9 hidden gourds, each one possessing a secret letter. Pick up a clue sheet at the Graham Visitor’s Center to find all nine and crack the secret code. Then come back sometime during regular business hours to redeem your cracked code for a small prize. So if you’re looking for some good clean fun with the family this Thanksgiving, we’ve got you covered.

 

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