A glimpse into the past – origins of the Holmdahl Rockery

September 3rd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

One of more famous locations in the Washington Park Arboretum is known as the Holmdahl Rockery, located along Lake Washington Boulevard E., and now the location of the Gateway to Chile Forest in the Pacific Connections Gardens section.

As cited in the Washington Park Historic Review, September 2003, page 78:

Otto Holmdahl was trained as a naval architect in Sweden, but became known as one of the best garden designers in the Northwest. Holmdahl consulted unofficially on the Arboretum for several years. He was well known to Sophie Krauss, who recommended that he be included in its planning: “I am sure some plan could be worked out for using some of the most competent men, such as Mr. Holmdahl who really does the most perfect rock gardens I think can be done…” In the summer of 1934, Holmdahl prepared a preliminary plan for the (entire) Arboretum, which was presented to the Advisory Committee. This plan has since been lost.

Frederick Leissler, Seattle Dept. of Parks Landscape Architect, had proposed the rock garden be located at the southwestern intersection of the Upper Road with Lake Washington Boulevard, where a steep hillside with southwest exposure provided better conditions for alpine plants. Leissler anticipated the rock garden would encompass 10 acres, but started the WPA (Works Progress Administration) crew in early 1937 laying basalt rock on the southernmost portion, and repairing the road cut made by the original construction of the boulevard. Otto Holmdahl supervised placement of stonework for the rock garden.

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Planting the Holmdahl Rockery. Click to enlarge.

Note the accession numbers jotted on to the photo to document the plantings. Click to enlarge.

Note the accession numbers jotted on to the photo to document the plantings. Click to enlarge.

Verbal legends passed by successive Arboretum staff indicated that several attempts were made to “populate” the rockery, but all met with ultimate failure, either due to the steep exposed terrain but mostly due to thievery of the small specialized plants. The photographs above, titled “Penstemon Plantings, 12 – 1954”, show an unidentified worker laying out specimens. A large number of accession numbers were added onto the photographs, and assumed planted. Needless to say, the penstemons also did not survive. Note the small sign pointing out the City of Seattle “Scenic Drive” on Arboretum Drive E.

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2014-2015 Wott Fellowship Recipient Named

September 2nd, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

Eve Rickenbaker, graduate student as well as Hyde Herbarium Collection Manager, is the recipient of the John A. Wott Fellowship in Plant Collection and Curatorship for 2014.

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UW Botanic Gardens Director Sarah Reichard, Director Emeritus John Wott, Fellowship recipient Eve Rickenbaker

Eve’s working thesis title is the UW student perception of the Washington Park Arboretum. She is conducting focus groups with University of Washington students in order to understand their motivations and constraints to visiting the Washington Park Arboretum. She says, “My hope is that if students connect to the Washington Park Arboretum now while attending college they will reap the benefits the Arboretum can offer through recreation, relaxation, and education. My long range goal is that their experience will create a deep-rooted respect and admiration for nature and plants, and perhaps they will even become ardent supporters one day of the Washington Park Arboretum as alumni or as leaders at the University of Washington or at similar public botanic gardens.”

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UW Farm opens produce stand on Fridays

August 28th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

Beginning Friday, August 29, the UW Farm will be partnering with UW Transportation Services to set up a weekly farm stand on the Burke Gilman trail on Fridays 3-5:30pm. The stand will be located just across the trail from the Husky Grind at the Mercer Court apartments.

Get your fill of fresh, hyper-local lettuce, kale, chard, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, turnips, radishes, beans, tomatillos, herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, lavender), mustard, garlic and more!

UW_FarmStand

The UW Farm is a campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and sustainability. It is an educational, community-oriented resource for people who want to learn about building productive and sustainable urban landscapes. All proceeds go towards sustainable farming education and student development.

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Wisteria Hall: New name, same beautiful venue

August 28th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

We have big news about the Graham Visitors Center in the Washington Park Arboretum. We bid a fond farewell to the very plain name of the Large Meeting Room and welcome Wisteria Hall to the UW Botanic Gardens family!

Wisteria Hall photo

Wisteria Hall at the Washington Park Arboretum

What bride wouldn’t want to celebrate her big day in Wisteria Hall and walk down the aisle in our garden patio?! The beautiful wisteria vines hang on all the arbors surrounding the building, so it only seemed fitting to name our event space after it. Not planning a wedding? Think of us the next time you are planning a party, meeting, memorial or any other type of social/corporate event.WH-Britt & Scott 2

Wisteria Hall can accommodate up to 90 people seated and features a catering kitchen. The outdoor patios enhance any event and increase wedding capacity to 150 people. Additional amenities when renting the venue include tables and chairs, WiFi access, a boardroom/changing room and parking. 2014 weddings are $2,250 for a 2pm – 11pm or nine hour rental. Contact our staff for more details and to book your next event, 206.221.2500.

 

wedding photo

An intimate wedding in the courtyard off of Wisteria Hall at the Washington Park Arboretum


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Summer curation internship: getting behind-the-scenes with plant records

August 25th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Nichole Sheehan

flower photo

Photo by Nichole Sheehan

Field-testing my classwork and expanding my plant palette as a curation intern

I am wrapping up a fantastic internship experience at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens this week and I’m already scheduling myself to continue as a volunteer. My internship was a wildly fortunate opportunity since I’m not a current student of the University of Washington. Tracy Mehlin of the Elisabeth Miller Library arranged the perfect internship to combine my attention to detail from my Navy service, my research and organizational skills from my MLIS, and my recent horticultural studies at Edmonds Community College.

I had two tasks; assist in the on-going plant inventory in the Arboretum, and help clean-up data for the interactive map (see the post, “Where in the Arboretum . . .”). Keith Ferguson provided me with excellent training for both BG Base and field inventory and Ryan Garrison helped me with the basics of the Arc GIS program. I amended scientific names, solved discrepancies with accession numbers, and linked mapped plants to the BG Base plant database for the arboretum. While I couldn’t solve all the problems, I did evaluate each of the more than 16,500 mapped plants and came up with a short-list of plants that need field checks. In the last program update, my work linked 1,436 mapped plants to the database so proper information can be displayed.

I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes aspects such as reading historical plant condition notes and evaluating plants for health and maintenance using my pests and diseases classwork. The five plant identification courses I had proved extremely helpful for inventorying, and my database work introduced me to hundreds of fantastic cultivars to consider using in the future. My experience here has really helped reinforce my coursework for ornamental landscaping and nursery and greenhouse production.

All of the staff and volunteers I met and worked with helped to make me feel comfortable and part of the team. They are truly the reason I want to stay on and continue helping with the field inventory. I’m grateful for everyone’s help and proud of my work. I strongly recommend others take advantage of this great opportunity to learn in the field and make a difference at the UW Botanic Gardens.

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Plant a Neighborhood Landmark—Apply for a Street Tree!

August 22nd, 2014 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

From our friends at Seattle reLeaf:

Does this hot, sunny weather have you wishing your street had more tree canopy? The City of Seattle’s Trees for Neighborhoods program helps Seattle residents plant trees around their homes. Since 2009, residents have planted over 4,000 trees in yards and along streets through the program. Through Trees for Neighborhoods, participants receive up to four free trees, assistance applying for street tree planting permits, and training on tree planting and care.

 

Plant a future neighborhood landmark—apply for a white oak, silver linden, tulip tree, or black tupelo for your planting strip! Imagine the awe-inspiring beauty a street tree could someday provide your neighborhood. All of these trees require at least a 7 or 8 foot planting strip with no overhead power lines. Ready for a tree? Don’t delay—the application for street trees closes Wednesday, August 27th! Yard tree applications will be accepted until October.

 

To apply for a street tree visit www.seattle.gov/trees. If you have questions, email TreesforNeighborhoods@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-3979.

Tulip Tree Flower

Tulip Tree Flower

Black Tupelo Leaf

Black Tupelo Leaf

White Oak

White Oak

Linden Flowers

Linden Flowers

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A Day in the Life

August 20th, 2014 by Lisa Sanphillippo

imagine
you are outside. The sun is shining, illuminating the new growth on the western red cedars. It’s been a great growing season and the plants at Washington Park Arboretum are thriving. The backdrop of evergreen trees is a lovely frame to all of the native and non-native plants in the collection. Now, if they would just get here!

Akoloutheo 4-18-14 36

Photo by Lisa Sanphillippo

Just when you thought you couldn’t wait any longer, here comes the bus holding 60 scheduled school-aged children just bursting with energy and excitement to be out of school and outside on such a fine day as this. Today, you will be teaching 15 of them the Native Plants and Native People program. What is native? What is invasive? Who was born in this state? Who are the Puget Sound Salish People? The kids get engaged by the questions you ask. You are showing them their participation and input is valuable.

You will focus some of their amazing energy into a running game about what it is people need to survive. After they have run out some of their shenanigans, you might point out that most everything folks need to survive comes from plants. And with the Puget Sound Salish People, they didn’t just use any old plants; they used plants that are native – original to this place.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

It will surprise you how many of them know what a western red cedar looks like. The J-shaped branches and the flat leaves are very familiar to most of them. But, you can still teach them about western hemlock and its different length needles and puzzle-piece bark. Douglas fir might be new to them, too. Though, once the children see the deep and creviced bark and the way-up high branches, it will be hard for them to forget. Maybe you will tell them the story of the mouse looking for a safe home during a forest fire using the cones of each to differentiate and describe the three trees. You know that story will create a great memory for them about how to identify all three trees.

You will show them artifacts made by local Ethnobotanist, Heidi Bohan. They will get a chance to touch and hold a model of a cedar weaving, fishing spear or canoe bailer. Each made to demonstrate how plants can be used to create a beautiful and useful object that could help a person survive and thrive. When you ask the kids what they use in their everyday lives that is made from plants, you are impressed that the list they give you is so long.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

When you show them to salal and Oregon grape plants and tell them about how berries from each were mixed together along with huckleberry to make a delicious berry cake sort of like a fruit roll up, you can see that they are almost ready for lunch! To distract them, you get them going on the hands-on activities.

This is your favorite part, because they have to work together as a team – just as Puget Sound Salish people of the past and present – to understand how to use a fire bow and drill or to build a single wall of a plank house or to learn how to cook food below the ground. It’s a great distraction because they’ve forgotten about their hunger for a moment as they dig in to the task at hand.

Jacob Smithers

It’s nearly the end of the program, now. You gather them together and ask each person to tell you something they learned or liked from the field trip. It is thrilling how many of them remember that the western hemlock makes sunscreen, how Douglas fir has mouse butts in the cones or that homes can be made without nails.

You thank them and walk them back to the start where their bus will come for them and take them back to school. You hope they will remember today as a positive and fun day. You hope the time here will aid them in their classroom work. Most of all, you hope they will continue to love and learn about plants and one day be a person who advocates for and serves the environment.

You head back to the work room to talk with your fellow guides about the kids and their chaperones and to put away the activities and props from the program. You are tired – sheesh, kids take it out of you – but you are proud to be a part of something important and worthy.

This is the kind of day we get to have at University of Washington Botanic Gardens Washington Park Arboretum. Is it the kind of day you might like?

Our Volunteer Garden Guides bring their knowledge and skills to teach about native plants, forests, pollination, photosynthesis, wetland plants and animals, ecosystems and habitat. We provide training, curricula and enrichments so each person is confident and comfortable teaching.

Consider donating your valuable time and expertise to connecting kids to nature through field trips. We welcome you to be a part of our incredible team of staff and volunteers. We can tell you will fit right in.

  • UW Botanic Gardens Volunteer Garden Guide Training begins September 5th with a kayak tour of the Washington Park Arboretum and continues the following week.
  • For more information about becoming a volunteer and training, please contact Lisa Sanphillippo, School Programs Coordinator, at 206-543-8801 or lsanphil@uw.edu.
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Winter Garden Project: Remodeling the “Living Walls”

August 20th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist

Arboretum Tree Removal Notification:

 

The week of 8/25/14, UWBG tree crew will embark on a project located in the Winter Garden (read about project below). 

4 western red cedars will be removed due to negative impact to plant collections and garden encroachment. 

All pedestrian path detours and other safety considerations will be handled by tree crew. 

If possible, cedar logs will be salvaged for future park uses.  

UW professor of landscape architecture and designer of our Winter Garden (1987), Iain Robertson, states it’s time to open up the “room” that has been closing in on the Winter Garden for over 25 years. Continuous growth of the “living walls”, predominantly western red cedars, is now negatively impacting many of the garden’s choice plant collections. Due to this encroachment, the garden “room” is feeling confining. Judicious consideration and deliberation has led to the following curation and horticultural decisions.

Project Scope:

  • Removal of 4 western red cedars to provide needed light and future growing space for plant collections. In all cases, the “room’s walls” will expand, yet filled in by existing trees in the background to continue to provide the experience of being in an enclosed space.Pruning of several other cedars to provide light and future growing space for plant collections.
    • 2 on the west side in the “twig bed”
    • 1 on the south side next to the Chinese red birch grove
    • 1 on the east side growing over several camellias and other collections
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August Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

August 17th, 2014 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (August 11 - 24, 2014)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (August 11 – 24, 2014)

1)   Poliothyrsis sinensis

  • A rare and very attractive small flowering tree of upright, open habit.
  • Originally brought from China to the Arnold Arboretum by E.H. Wilson.
  • Big 6-8” mildly fragrant, creamy flower clusters (corymbose panicles) make a significant contribution to the August-September garden.
  • Located in grid 30-3E, near the south entrance to the Woodland Garden along Arboretum Drive.

2)   Daphniphyllum macropodum

  • This dioecious plant (translation = “of two houses”) needs plants of both sexes to seed.
  • Our largest grouping sits in grid 7-2E.  This area was recently renovated for the New Zealand Garden construction, allowing more light and air to these plants.
  • Purplish-red petioles, copious berries and leaves arranged in tight spirals make this one of the most asked-about plants in the Washington Park Arboretum.

3)   Veronica salicifolia   (Hebe salicifolia)

  • Is it a Hebe? Is it a Veronica?  Just wait and it might change again!
  • Large, spear-shaped, white flowers populate this New Zealand native in late summer.
  • Salicifolia = “leaf like a Salix (willow)”, hence the common name willow-leaved hebe.

4)   Buplerum fruitcosum

  • This evergreen shrub in the carrot family has striking leathery blue-green foliage.
  • Long-lasting, umbels of greenish-yellow flowers bloom in late spring/early summer.
  • Flowers are highly attractive to a number of predatory insects that feed on aphids and other garden pests.

5)   Argyrocytisus battandieri

  • Commonly called Pineapple Broom, this pea-family plant produces yellow flowers atop blue-gray foliage.
  • Native to Morocco, this plant grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.
  • Located along the west side of Arboretum Drive in grid 16-5E.
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The “Lost” Enkianthus Grove in Washington Park Arboretum

August 8th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist

Does anyone reading this know where our arboretum’s “lost” Enkianthus grove is located? By “lost”, I mean extremely well-hidden under a dense canopy of western red cedars and other trees.

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Enkianthus specimens previously “lost” in the overgrowth.

Enkianthus are shade-tolerant shrubs, but NOT “black-hole” shade tolerant. Like most living plants, they do need light to grow and thrive.  It’s a bit embarrassing, but I can honestly say, during my 30 plus year tenure on the UWBG horticulture staff, I don’t recall ever working in the area for longer than maybe a day cleaning up after a storm or pruning a few of the bigger trees. And, we definitely did not pay any attention to the main attraction – a grove of over 50 Enkianthus specimens, mostly all E. campanulatus (red-vein enkianthus) and over 70 years old! Well, the answer to the question above is Rhododendron Glen, encompassing several grid maps (14-2E, 14-3E and 15-3E).

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Accession number 2352-37, this Enkianthus campanulatus was planted in 1937.

Now for the good news. Thanks to funding designated for Rhododendron Glen, our horticulture staff has taken on the project to restore the grove for all to be able to once again, after a very long hiatus, enjoy its natural beauty and splendor throughout the year.

The project scope includes the following to improve the health and display of the Enkianthus grove:

  • Increase light conditions through selective understory brush clearing, tree removals and pruning
  • Open view corridors and a cleared natural pathway for visitors to walk from the upper Rhododendron Glen pond area down to the lower “Lookout” pond
  • Improve health of the Enkianthus through practicing sound horticulture: mulching, watering and fertilizing the grove

For more information about the ornamental shrub, Enkianthus campanulatus, go to Wikipedia website below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enkianthus_campanulatus

 

 

 

 

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