Student Spotlight: Anna Carragee

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

Anna_Carragee

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.

Sketchbook

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

Garden

Student Spotlight: Regina Wandler

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

Regina_Wandler

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.

Pittosporum (Pitta=pitch, Sporum=seed) : August 17 – 30, 2015

August 23rd, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the New Zealand Forest in the Pacific Connections Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum (August 17 - 30, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the New Zealand Forest in the Pacific Connections Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum (August 17 – 30, 2015)

Native to New Zealand (and Australia, Asia, and Africa). Flowers are sweetly scented and seeds are coated with a sticky substance giving the plant its name, pitch-seed.
All plants below can be seen growing in the New Zealand Forest in the Pacific Connections Garden.

1)   Pittosporum eugenioides               Lemonwood

  • New Zealand’s tallest Pittosporum, P. eugenioides can reach 40 feet.
  • Its yellow-green leaves with curly edges have a strong scent of lemon when crushed.

2)   Pittosporum divaricatum

  • Divaricating (stretched or spread apart) branching patterns and small juvenile foliage protect this plant from beaked predators.
  • As the plant gains height, adult foliage emerges safe from predation.

3)   Pittosporum patulum               Pitpat

  • Endemic to the South Island of New Zealand.
  • Pitpat has been on the IUCN Red List as endangered since 1999.
  • IUCN stands for:  International Union for Conservation of Nature.

4)   Pittosporum ralphii               Ralph’s Kohuhu

  • Thick leathery, undulating leaves sport dense white tomentum on the underside.
  • Hermaphroditic flowers give way to orange-yellow seed capsules and black seeds.

5)   Pittosporum tenuifolium               ‘Tom Thumb’

  • This purple-leaved cultivar of P. tenuifolium is a dense, slow-growing evergreen shrub with a rounded habit.
  • You can find this plant in the newly-renovated courtyard of the Graham Visitor Center.

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.

Leafless in Seattle

August 14th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (August 3 - 16, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (August 3 – 16, 2015)

1)  Clematis afoliata

  • Native to the dry, eastern side of New Zealand.
  • Now growing in our New Zealand Focal Forest.
  • Eventually becomes a wiry mound with fragrant spring flowers.

2)  Hakea epiglottis

  • Native to Tasmania and growing outside our Education Office.
  • Hakea needs sun and dry, infertile soil.
  • The round “stems” are true leaves despite their appearance.

3)  Phyllocladus aspleniifolius

  • Another Tasmanian native, this tree prefers moist lowlands. Its “leaves” are actually modified stems called “phylloclades”.
  • A related species, Phyllocladus alpinus is native to New Zealand and is growing in our New Zealand gardens.

4)  Ruscus aculeatus               Butcher’s Broom

  • The “leaves” of Ruscus and Danae are called “cladodes”: a subtle and not clearly defined difference from “phylloclades”, but still modified stems.
  • Ruscus aculeatus and Ruscus hypoglossum are both growing in the Witt Winter Garden.

5)  Danae racemosa               Alexandrian Laurel

  • Danae and Ruscus are members of the Asparagus family.
  • Danae is native to Asia Minor and is growing in our Winter Garden.
  • Ruscus is native to the Mediterranean region.

Travel to South Africa – a Biodiversity Wonderland!

August 13th, 2015 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director
Photo by Chris Preen

Photo by Chris Preen

I am very fortunate to have traveled to many countries – Chile, Guatemala, Morocco, Australia, many countries in Europe and several others around the world. I am sometimes asked which was my favorite country or trip and it is hard to answer. But I always include South Africa in my top three. Partly that is because of timing – my husband and I had both lost a parent to cancer in the months previous and the worry and grief had taken a toll on us that South Africa helped to release. But it was also because of the amazing plants and animals we saw. The Cape region has very high levels of endemism (plants only found there and nowhere else). We saw species in the lily and iris families that were totally new to us, so many species of heaths we could not believe it (the highest diversity in the genus Erica is there), carnivorous plants, and so many more. Many of these are now being used in the Seattle area and are totally or mostly hardy! There are others that people like Dan Hinkley are working to introduce.

Photo by Salim Fadhley

Photo by Salim Fadhley

We also visited Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. While nothing approaches the University of Washington Botanic Gardens – of course! – this is one of the finest gardens in the world. The physical setting, next to spectacular Table Mountain, is one of the best in the world. Their interpretation, educational programs, gardens – they are all outstanding! And, as I recall, their gift shop was pretty great too…

Surprisingly, the food in South Africa was some of the best I have ever had. Cream of Lotus soup anyone? It was delicious! We had a smoky mushroom soup that was fantastic too. And the wines! South African wines are some of the best in the world, and so reasonably priced.

Photo by Winfried Bruenken

Photo by Winfried Bruenken

With all of these fond memories, it was an easy YES! when our travel partners, Holbrook Travel, proposed a garden/nature themed trip for August/September 2016 (their spring). They have put together an unbelievable itinerary. Our guided tour will take us to see the wonderful Kirstenbosch Garden, but also one of the oldest gardens in South Africa at the University of Stellenbosch and a 300 year old estate winery in Franschhoek. From there we travel to Nieuwoudtville (I am sure our guide will help us with pronunciation!) to hopefully enjoy the native spring bulb display (somewhat dependent on rainfall) and an opportunity to explore a natural area. We will also be visiting Springbok, with the richest bulb flora in Namaqualand – nearly a third of their 3,500 plant species are endemic! We will end our trip at Kagga Kamma, a very unique place, seeing Bushman cave paintings and animals such as ostrich, lynx, and maybe the Cape Mountain leopard. And if you would like, Holbrook can offer extensions to other game reserves, where you might check off your African Big Five.

This will be a trip that will stand out in your top three, I am sure. Come have an African Adventure with me!

Dates: August 23 – September 6, 2016
Cost: $3,795, plus $300 tax-deductible donation to UW Botanic Gardens
Download Itinerary.

Photo by Martin Smit

Photo by Martin Smit

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!

My First Free Weekend Walk

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

This is the first in a series of blog posts we will be sharing from 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 19th, 2015

Hydrangeas

On this lazy, hot, summer day, I embarked on my first event with the UW Botanic Gardens: the Free Weekend Walk. The great things about the tour are that it’s free, every Sunday, and open to all ages. The walking was brisk, and despite the heat, our guide Catherine kept us entertained. The theme of this day was Hydrangeas and Other Summer Bloomers. Themes like this switch every month to best fit the season.

Because I can’t drive, I was dropped off at the Graham Visitors Center, just before one o’clock. After inquiring at the desk, I waited until our guide came right on time, starting us out with a few introductory facts. I learned that the park was 230 acres, the majority of the land being owned by the city with the collections belonging to the Botanic Gardens. We were a group of twelve, including me, horticulturalists  and tourists alike. To begin, we circled around the parking lot, stopping by the greenhouse to see the large-leafed “dinosaur food” bog plant native to South America, with long, almost Pinecone-esque petalless  flowers. Behind the greenhouse was a gorgeous pomegranate tree, which, with the warm season we’ve been having, bore fruit.

After we looked at the various trees in the bright sun, we circled back around to the main path, which thankfully had patches of shade. It was 90 degrees out, mind you, and I had stupidly forgotten a water bottle. Our guide was good at keeping our minds off the heat, though my thirst for water preoccupied a third of my thoughts. The rest of my mind filtered through facts and phrases for this post, while another small section wanted to be binge watching my favorite show, though I shouldn’t mention that here, have to be professional. 😉

The tour, after all, was focused on the blooming hydrangeas, and the first one we accounted on the path was drooping from the drought. In fact, many of the plants we passed had brown, forgotten leaves. Facts from my 9th grade biology class kept popping up, an unplanned refresher in photosynthesis and the food web. The dead leaves on the underside of the trees were the plants’ way of conserving energy and water; leaves with less light had more energy going into growth than coming out of photosynthesis. We also spotted snag trees, dead plants that had become homes for insects, decomposers who feed off the bark. The insects attract hungry birds and bats, and soon you have full ecosystems on one dead tree.

Back to the hydrangeas: interesting tidbit, there are three kinds of hydrangeas: lace top, mop top, and the cone-shaped paniculatas. The flowerettes around the base of the lace top, when lifted up, are a signal to the bees that pollination should occur, and drop once there is nectar. Nature is amazing!

Next in our walk up the shadow scattered hill were the magnolias. Yet another thing that I learned was that because magnolias, evolutionarily, predate bees; the flowers are shaped and hang in a way so that they can be pollinated by ants and beetles. The magnolias have a nice citrus smell, and because of the unusual heat, many of the trees we passed were on there second bloom of the season, which our guide had never seen before. The magnolias also provided a much needed shade. Another tree we saw was the sassafras tree, the origin of root beer. The cool thing about the sassafras  tree was that was only one of two trees with the three kinds of leaf shapes: mitten, flame, and ghost. Seeing all the differently shaped leaves on this tree and the other species we passed was strange and interesting.

Magnolia

Finally, we got to the large collection of hydrangeas. There were many beautiful bushes, colored blue and white. Catherine informed us that these hydrangeas did in fact change color based on the PH of the soil. We also spotted a hydrangea that grew vine-like on a tree, but in a safe way. By now, it was time to turn back, and we headed on a gravel path through the forest, where it was shady and cool. The final fascinating fact I learned was that many of the magnolias and other “tropical” plants that thrive in the southeast United States are related to the plants of Asia, an offshoot from back when the land was all one continent.

All in all it was a great way to spend my afternoon. Our guide Catherine made it entertaining, educational, and we got in some exercise! All three e’s! The Botanic Gardens have my interest, and I am sure they will have yours if you take the chance to visit. The Arboretum is beautiful, the paths are easy to use, and with these guided tours, navigating and fact-learning is easier. I’d highly recommend it. :)

 

July Color Appears at the Center for Urban Horticulture

July 25th, 2015 by UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson

Featuring a Selection of Trees at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Selected cuttings from the Center for Urban Horticulture (July 20, 2015 - August 2, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Center for Urban Horticulture (July 20, 2015 – August 2, 2015)

1)  Acer japonicum  ‘Aconitifolium’                         Fern Leaf Maple

  • Grove of six located in McVay Courtyard
  • Planted in 1986, original design element for McVay Courtyard
  • Beautiful leaf texture with extraordinary fall color
  • The most iconic tree at the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH)

2)  Cedrus deodara             Deodar Cedar

  • Two mature specimens located at northeastern entrance to Event Lawn (x from Greenhouse)
  • The only conifers remaining from pre-CUH development
  • Probably planted post-war years (1950s) for UW married student housing

3)  x Chitalpa tashkentensis  ‘Morning Cloud’                                                                           Morning Cloud Chitalpa

  • An inter-generic cross between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis
  • A hardy drought tolerant tree currently in flower, hence its cultivar namesake
  • Several specimens located in bed along NE 41st Street, west entrance to CUH.

4)  Lagerstroemia indica             Crape Myrtle

  • This amazingly resilient and adaptable tree has had three homes in its lifespan.
  • Planted in 1963 around the original Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) buildings,
  • Then moved in 1984 to the WPA Mediterranean beds.
  • Moved to its current resting spot at CUH, south side of Isaacson Hall in 1990.

5)  Juniperus scopulorum             Rocky Mountain Juniper

  • Cuttings would not be complete without featuring a Pacific Northwest native tree at CUH.
  • OK, so it’s not found in the Puget Sound area, but its range does include parts of eastern Washington.
  • This upright specimen can be found anchoring the southeastern corner of the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden.