Spring Pushes Forth at the Washington Park Arboretum

May 23rd, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 16 - 30, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(May 16 – 30, 2016)

1)   Ostrya carpinifolia                Hop Hornbeam

  • This small-to-medium-sized tree (40-50’) is native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia.
  • The common name refers to the fruit which resembles the fruit of Humulus (Hops).
  • Ostrya is from Greek, meaning “bone-like” in reference to the trees dense hard wood.
  • Located north of East Foster Island Road, east of the Broadmoor entrance.

2)  Picea mariana ‘Doumetii’                Doumet Black Spruce

  • This selection of Picea mariana is a popular slow-growing shrub with blue green needles and a dense conical growth habit.
  • Located along Arboretum Drive on the north end of the Magnolia Collection.

3)  Pinus x schwerinii                Schwerin’s Pine

  • Schwerin’s Pine is an interspecies cross between Himalayan White Pine (Pinus wallichiana) and Weymouth Pine (Pinus strobus). It was found by Earl Schwerin in his park in Wilmersdorf (near Berlin, Germany) in 1905.
  • Our fine specimen is located north of the Crabapple Meadow near the service road.

4)  Pterocarya macroptera                Large–Winged Wingnut

  • Native to northern China, the Wingnut is a fast-growing, medium height tree to 50-70 feet tall and 40 feet wide.
  • This tree boasts ornamental spikes of fruit with broad wings in long pendulous spikes.
  • This tree can be seen in fruit east of Arboretum Drive and south of the Crabapple Meadow. Look for the long bright green chains before you reach the service road.

5)  Tillia cordata ‘Bicentennial’                Bicentennial Littleleaf Linden

  • This selection of the popular street tree is known for a dense and conical form.
  • Its moderate size makes Tillia cordata useful in areas where space is limited.
  • Littleleaf Linden is known for its sweetly-scented spring flowers. Tillia fruit are held below a stiff bract similar to that on a maple seed which acts like a “helicopter” as it falls.
  • A fine specimen can be seen at the intersection of Arboretum Drive and East Foster Island Road.

May Colors Appear Just in Time for Mother’s Day!

May 7th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 2 - 15, 2016)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum
(May 2 – 15, 2016)

Happy Mother’s Day!

1)  Philadelphus coronarius

  • Native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, this shrub is located within the Sorbus Collection. It is perhaps the best-known species of mock orange in gardens because of its sweet smell. The fragrance of its flowers is pleasing out-of-doors, but may become too strong if the plants are numerous or near sitting room windows.
  • Philadelphus is a member of the plant family, Hydrangeaceae.

2)  Rhododendron   ‘Favor Major’

  • Located just west of parking lot #5, this hybrid is showing its yellowish-orange flowers.

3)  Rhododendron   ‘Ruby Hart’

  • Located within the Hybrid Bed, this shrub certainly has been given an appropriate cultivar name.

4)  Robinia x holdtii

  • A member of the plant family, Leguminosae, the genus Robinia contains about
    20 deciduous trees and shrubs confined to North America. The name Robinia
    commemorates Jean Robin, herbalist to Henry IV of France.
  • Specimen is located in the Legumes.

5)  Styrax obassia

  • A broadly columnar deciduous tree bearing elliptic dark green leaves and bell-
    shaped white flowers, S. obassia is native to northern China, Korea, and Japan.
  • This specimen is located along the upper trail near Rhododendron Glen.

Staff Spotlight: Jessica Anderson

May 6th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Jessica_AndersonJessica Anderson is a librarian at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.  Most days you will see Jessica at the Reference desk, doing research or providing answers to gardening questions.

Jessica moved to Seattle from the Southwest to attend the University of Washington, earning her Masters in Library and Information Science in 2010.  As an undergraduate, Jessica began working at the Natural Sciences Library inside of the Suzzallo-Allen Library on the main campus.  Once graduated, she began volunteering at the Miller Library.

“I became fascinated by all the books on horticulture,” she notes,  “and checked out dozens of books on growing edible plants.  Then I began experimenting at home.”

Jessica is now a full-fledged urban farmer and maintains an edible garden of fruits and vegetables, complete with chickens in her small backyard.

At her work in the Miller library, Jessica performs varied tasks including managing the print and electronic serials collection (subscriptions, renewals, receipt records, claiming, and archiving), supervising volunteers, and tracking purchase orders and library supplies.  Her favorite part of her job is learning new things from the research questions she is asked via the Plant Answer Line Service.

“I feel so lucky to work at a place where I spend my time with patrons answering questions about plants,” she glows.

She also feels fortunate to work next to the Union Bay Natural Area loop trail, where she often walks and, when it is clear, looks out toward the mountains across Lake Washington.

When the weather is not so nice and she is not working, Jessica joins a meet-up group to play board games.  And her favorite plant?  The Saucer Magnolia tree (Magnolia x soulangeana), with its large fragrant blossoms in spring.saucer-magnolia

“Especially after a long winter, it is a welcome sight to see a magnolia in full bloom!”

Volunteer Spotlight: Heidi Lennstrom

April 29th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Heidi_Tree cholla Santa Fe 2015Heidi volunteers at the Hyde Herbarium, working with pressed plants and the plant database.  She holds a PhD in archaeology, specializing in paleoethnobotany–the study of plant remains from archaeological digs.  She spent many years at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, where she was also a science educator and creator of an ethnobotany garden and webpage. 

“I love to organize things,” says Lennstrom, “so working with the seven cabinets of duplicate specimens at the Herbarium is perfect for me!”

Heidi carefully identifies which of the specimens are duplicates, confirms they have been entered into the Botanic Garden website and  then determines which ones are kept and which ones need to be shared with other herbaria.

Although originally from Seattle, Heidi lived in Minneapolis and later, Honolulu for many years.  She returned to Seattle in 2007 to be closer to family.  She loves to travel with family, work with digital photography and cook.

When in college, Heidi always favored the classes where she got to be outdoors–archaeology field studies, geology of the Pacific Northwest and plant identification.  Now that she is working in an Herbarium she admits that she doesn’t get outside into the Botanic Gardens nearly often enough.

Heidi loves the conifers of the Arboretum but it is perhaps the simple lily that is her favorite plant.  “Its so elegant!”

Earth Day Celebrates Nursery Expansion

April 26th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

 

Hoophouse

A pair of dedicated and highly organized graduate students succeeded in obtaining a grant to significantly expand the Society for Ecological Restoration-UW’s (SER-UW) native plant nursery at the UW Botanic Gardens.  The SER-UW nursery provides low cost plants to the Arboretum, UW planting projects and many restoration efforts on campus initiated by SER-UW.

Anna Carragee, a graduate student in Environmental Horticulture (at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences) and her classmate Kelly Broadlick have been managing the nursery during their graduate tenure, which will end in June.  The two realized that there was a compelling need to significantly expand the plant inventory to serve all these purposes.  So the students appealed to the Campus Sustainability Fund for a grant to build a new hoop-style greenhouse, fund manager positions, and buy plant production materials.

The students were awarded the $54,000 grant last June and have recently completed the structure thanks to over 50 volunteers and 400 hours of labor over winter quarter.

The UW Construction Management department oversaw the construction of the new hoop house, which provides a new “home base” for the nursery that will lead to cost savings as well as space for 60% more plants.

“The unique shape of this hoop house will ensure that if we do get significant snowfall in winter, the hoop house will not collapse under the weight,” says Carragee, “a problem with a previous hoop house, which actually collapsed.”

The nursery is an important source of plant material for the two primary restoration projects of SER-UW – Whitman walk on the main campus and Kincade Ravine near the Burke Gilman trail.

The nursery grows plants from seed, from cuttings and from salvage—“saving” plants from development sites across King County that will be destroyed once construction begins.

The nursery is the home for these plants, as well as those started in Native Plant Production plant classes at the UW.

“The nursery collaborates with the other UW classes to ensure the plant starts thrive until ready to be used.  We teach nursery skills here, horticulture skills and ensure that the plants that are harbored here promote genetic diversity at their eventual planting sites,” notes Carragee.IMG_4321

Carragee and Broadlick were careful with the funds they were granted and through a generous use of volunteers they were able to realize a cost savings.  This allowed them to construct a lovely potting bench of rough-hewn wood, which will keep the new plants organized.
“But we want the new bench and workspace to be beautiful as well,” says Carragee.  “So we devised a contest for a mural to be created on top of the bench!”

UW art students will vie for the $200 prize and rights to decorate the new potting bench with art, which will then be covered by an epoxy glaze to preserve both the art and the wood table from the elements.

The nursery is a great example of how so many University departments can work together to achieve a common purpose-horticulture, restoration scientists, native plant students, art students as well as the numerous UW facilities that will utilize the plants.

Seems only fitting that on Earth Day, we celebrated the completion of the hoop house with a grand party.

IMG_4320

“Story Time” at the Washington Park Arboretum

April 25th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist

The stories of people and plants are intricately intertwined.  The plants of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens have many stories to tell, and here are just a few to wet your whistle.  Explore our website at to look up and locate plants in the Arboretum and learn more of our stories.

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, April 18 - May 2, 2016

1)  Abies grandis – Grand Fir                “Fir Above It All”

  • This particular tree has witnessed the entire history of the Washington Park Arboretum.  It is almost certainly a remnant of the vegetation that existed before the site was logged circa 1896.  You can read more about this remarkable tree’s history on the March 2016 plant profile.

2)  Castenea dentata – American Chestnut
“A Blight to Remember”

  • Once upon a time in the eastern forests of North America, the mighty American Chestnut was a ubiquitous giant.  This tree could shape entire ecosystems, providing food and shelter to all manner of beasts and men.  It was said that the chestnuts would sometimes pile up so high you could scoop them up with a shovel.  This fast-growing timber tree provided wood that could be used to make almost anything a carpenter can build. Sadly, this tree has been decimated by “chestnut blight”, a fungus that quickly girdles and kills the tree.  The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is committed to the conservation of this tree and many other species that are threatened.

3)  Rhododendron ‘Lem’s Cameo’                “Halfdan Lem and the Rhodies of War”

  • Some of Halfdan Lem’s story was told to the Vancouver Rhododendron Society meeting of March 1993.  When World War II started, Mr. Fred Rose in England sent Lem seed and scions of many of his crosses and the resulting plants formed the nucleus of Lem’s breeding program.  By the mid-sixties, he had made over 2000 crosses and had about 50,000 seedlings.  One of his first introductions was “Lem’s Cameo”, an outstanding and popular variety.  Halfdan was reported to be quite a “colorful” character, and you can see some of his legacy in the Puget Sound Hybrid Garden.  Many other stories about Halfdan Lem may be found in the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society, which is available online.

Staff Spotlight: Catherine Moore Nelson

April 22nd, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Catherine began volunteering to lead adult tours and youth programs for the UW Botanic Gardens in 2006 and in 2011, she received the Brian Mulligan volunteer of the year award.

More recently, she became employed part-time as a Tour Program Assistant, leading tours, training and coordinating volunteer guides, and contributing to the UW Botanic Gardens blogs. Adding to her long list of skills, Catherine also now helps with the adult education program, setting up private group tours, driving the tram and helping to lead youth and family programs.

Catherine leading her Adult tour.

Catherine leading a tram tour.

Catherine and her family moved to the area in 1974 and she grew up on San Juan Island. After obtaining a B.A. in Greek Culture and History at Western Washington University in Bellingham,  she moved to Seattle to enroll in a Horticulture program at Lake Washington Technical College, graduating in 2005 as a certified horticulturist.  She now has her own business, focusing on long term garden care for clients.

“I love the variety of work I do at the UW Botanic Gardens, ” says Nelson enthusiastically, “I especially enjoy interacting with visitors and sharing the great wonders of the Arboretum with them–plants, botany and horticulture.” But, she adds, she also learns a great deal from visitors who come from many different states and countries around the world.

A friend of Catherine’s from the UW Botanic Gardens Education department enticed Catherine to volunteer.  Although she was initially intimidated by the training, she instantly became excited about being a part of such a great Arboretum.

Catherine’s favorite place here is the grove of Sequoiadendron giganteum in the Pinetum.

“Its so quiet there, I feel as if I am in a natural cathedral encircled by giant towering trees,” and, she admits, “I take visitors there as often as possible to see the 100 foot tall trees that are really still just babies.”

When Nelson is not driving trams or sharing her wealth of botanic knowledge,  she loves to read, watch movies or enjoy the outdoors camping, playing softball and having barbecues.  She doesn’t have a favorite plant, but is smitten by conifers and loves the Ericaceae family, and she adores plants with large, showy flowers.

Glimpse into the past – Trees need Tractors

April 20th, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Managing a large garden requires large equipment. Often tractors and trucks can be kept in great working order for many years, but eventually they too will need to be replaced. Shredders, mowers, and machinery with many working parts need to be replaced every few years. Machinery costs were once totally covered in state and city budgets. In years past, tractors and trucks were also sometimes leased. With the severe budget cuts over the last several decades, staff has to now improvise and find creative ways to obtain and use larger equipment.

1949_Fleet

The photo on the left above, from 1949, shows the UW Arboretum fleet of four trucks and a Ford Tractor. The photo on the right shows the Ford Tractor , brand new in March 1948, hooked up to a new Hardie sprayer. In those days, widespread spraying for all types of pests was common. This equipment was obtained and supported through UW (State) budgets.

JohnDeere

This next set of photos shows Arboretum Foundation President Steve Garber proudly delivering a new John Deere tractor and loader – a $35,000 gift of the Arboretum Foundation on September 14, 1995. The photo below shows the same tractor helping to lift a new Drimys winteri into its planting site just last month, on March 18, 2016.

Tractor_2016

Both the UW Botanic Gardens and Seattle Parks and Recreation staff now also use a number of modern efficient carts in their daily operations (photo below).

Gator_2016

The funding need for equipment, both large and small, is never ending. Excellent working equipment lessens the work load for staff, and leads to more efficient maintenance. It too is part of the cost of Arboretum maintenance.

 

* Editor’s note: Learn about ways to support the equipment budget and other needs, crucial to the maintenance of UW Botanic Gardens, on our Donate page.

 

 

Student Spotlight: Emma Relei

April 15th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

emmareleiIn Emma Relei’s extensive list of “favorite” plants, one of them is the simple crocus, meaningful for her because of its prominence in a much-loved children’s tale, The Runaway Bunny;  another is Ponderosa pine, because “it smells like vanilla!”

Emma’s energy and enthusiasm for all things extends in many directions, including her work with specimens at the Hyde Herbarium. There she helps sort the 23,000+ species, catalogs them on the database, mounts species for filing and makes greeting cards.

“I love how each specimen has a story and a history to unfold, and that I get to be part of it,” she proclaims.

In addition to her volunteer work, Emma is a senior at the University of Washington studying Environmental Science and Resource Management in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.  Emma is keen on all of her plant-related classes, especially ones that bring her outside into nature.

“I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest,” she notes, “and although I would like to travel more some day, this is a pretty great place to live and study.”

In addition to her studies, and volunteering at the Herbarium, Relei works in a local nursery, watches “tons” of gardening videos and has a small container garden in her tiny home.  She also loves trail running, hiking, camping and kayaking with friends.  She also loves to play piano and read historical fiction.

Whew!  Do you think she ever sleeps?

As for favorite places, Relei mentions of course, the Hyde Herbarium.  But she  also loves the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum as it was where she celebrated her 16th birthday, a day she holds fond memories of even today.

 

 

April Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

April 10th, 2016 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum, April 4 - 17, 2016

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum,
April 4 – 17, 2016

1)  Acer mandshuricum                Manchurian Maple

  • The Manchurian Maple is native from Eastern Siberia into China and strongly resembles Acer griseum and Acer triflorum.
  • This species is located in the Asian Maples Collection.

2)  Distylium racemosum                Isu Tree

  • The flowers of Distylium racemosum are petalless, but have attractive red calyces (whorl of sepals) and purple stamens.
  • The Isu tree is native to southern Japan, but can be found in the Witt Winter Garden and in our Hamamelidaceae Collection, east of Arboretum Drive near the Pacific Connections gardens.

3)  Pieris japonica                Lily-of-the-Valley Shrub

  • This shrub from eastern China, Taiwan and Japan begins the spring with showy terminal panicles of flowers that range from white to dark-red, followed by extremely colorful new growth which will fade to green in summertime.
  • Lily-of-the-Valley can be found at the Graham Visitor Center, the Witt Winter Garden and Rhododendron Glen.

4)  Rehderodendron macrocarpum

  • This native of southwestern China and Vietnam is a member of the Styracaceae family and displays typical Styracaceous white pendent flowers in Spring.
  • Though a relatively small tree in the Pacific Northwest, Rehderodendron macrocarpum is a dominant component in its native habitat.
  • Specimens can be found along Azalea Way near our Puget Sound Rhododendron hybridizers bed as well as in the Witt Winter and Woodland Gardens.

5)  Viburnum bitchuense                Bitchiu Viburnum

  • This native of Korea and Japan has pink buds that open to wonderfully fragrant white flowers.
  • Viburnum bitchiuense can be found just across Arboretum Drive, outside the east doors of the Graham Visitor Center.