Artist Juliet Shen has adopted the Union Bay Natural Area as her outdoor studio, drawing there from her small folding stool through all four seasons. Her drawings of the area will be on display at the Miller Library from February 22 – March 31, 2014.
Please join us for the artist’s opening reception on Friday, February 28, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.
A portion of the proceeds from artwork sales benefit the Library.
Our free public tours of the Washington Park Arboretum have begun for the new year. We hold these tours as Free Weekend Walks every Sunday from January through November. The walks are led by an experienced docent and last about 90 minutes. With over 10,500 plants in the arboretum collection we don’t run out of topics to share with our visitors.
For the month of January we had 90+ visitors come along and learn about Ancient Tree Species that have been living on earth for millennia. If you missed this month, there are more season topics to explore through the rest of the year.
One of our most popular tours is coming up in February; The Joseph Witt Winter Garden. Everyone wants to see and smell flowers this time of year to remind us that spring is around the corner. Following February, our Spring tours will take visitors to see all the amazing flowering plants in the collection.
Tours meet at the Graham Visitors Center, Sundays at 1:00pm and we go out rain or shine. You can find the monthly topics by visiting our web site and clicking on Visit then Tours. Hope you can join us soon – tell your friends!
There is much to look forward to in 2014 for the University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG) horticulture and plant records staff. It will be a rare year of “normality” between capital project implementations, the completed 2013 Pacific Connections Gardens (PCG) New Zealand (NZ) forest exhibit and the looming 2015 multi-use trail. Our resources will be focused on smaller scale deferred maintenance projects of several gardens and plant collections, catching up with plant labeling and mapping of our Pacific Connections Gardens and embarking on a few recently awarded grants.
Washington Park Arboretum (WPA)
On the grants front, this spring, Azalea Way and the Japanese Garden will be receiving new cherry trees, along with funding to support future maintenance, thanks to the Japanese Embassy’s Nationwide Cherry Blossom Planting Initiative. Fourteen cherries will be installed of various types, ranging from the tide-and-true classical hybrids to the newer, disease-resistant cultivars. We hope to tap into the services of our volunteer Azalea Way stewards force to help in their planting, establishment and future care.
We just heard that we were awarded $33 thousand from the UW Green Seeds funds, a grants program that engages our UW community in sustainability research that will have a direct affect on reducing UW campus’ carbon footprint. Our 1 year study will allow us to purchase 2 new utility vehicles, 1 electric and 1 bio-diesel, which will be the test subjects of a research project titled: “Grounds Utility Vehicle Carbon Footprint Comparison Study”. Results and conclusions will be disseminated at the end of the study to UW Grounds Management, Seattle City Parks and Recreation, and other local municipalities and private organizations that employ utility vehicles to perform grounds maintenance tasks.
Our curator, Ray Larson, is busy developing plant lists and procuring new plants for refreshing and embellishing many plant collections displays and exhibits. Our horticulturists will be installing exciting new cultivars and hybrids in the PCG entry gardens of Australia, Cascadia and China. Also, wild-collected specimens from our container nursery inventory will be planted out in the future China forest portion which was cleared during the NZ forest construction last year. We hope to receive several tree peony cultivars from the Seattle Chinese garden. The American Peony Arts and Cultural Association is promoting Luoyang peonies. These donations may be planted in the PCG China entry garden, in our original peony display along Arboretum Drive and/or over at the Center for Urban Horticulture.
Other gardens and collections of 2014 focus for small-scale renovations and/or new plantings include the Winter Garden, Camellias, Hollies, Maples, Pinetum and Viburnums.
On the Plant Records front, catching up with our backlog of labeling and mapping will be a major goal for all UWBG gardens and collections, specifically PCG’s NZ forest and Chilean Gateway. Mapping our collections has moved into the 21st century using sophisticated survey equipment to gather Geo-referenced points that will enable all sorts of modern applications for staff and public alike who want more information on the locations and data of our plant collections.
Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH)
The horticulturists at CUH will certainly not be any less busy or ambitious in 2014 than those at WPA. The following projects are either underway or in the works:
- New plantings for the McVay stairs will include a new bench, bringing back the solar fountain from WPA and, if room allows, also incorporating a container or two.
- Our “face” along 41st Street is undergoing a much needed “lift.” After the new fence is built, there will be opportunities for new plantings along it. Also, expect to finally see our “Welcome” signs get installed onto the long awaiting stands at both ends of our frontage.
- Speaking of signs, the tired-looking interpretive signs in the Orin & Althea Soest Herbaceous Display Garden will be replaced shortly. Also, keep your eyes open for changes and new plantings in a few of the Soest display beds.
- If funding comes through, the Fragrance Garden bed along NHS Hall is on the schedule for renovation this year as well.
- Goodfellow Grove will continue to be a focus of renovation, with considerable restorative pruning and thinning beds, path and lawn improvements.
- Later this year, clearing of vegetation around Central pond in the Union Bay Natural Area will take place in hopes of providing more habitat for shore-birds and increasing their diversity.
As you can see, there’s plenty of work to be done by the UWBG horticulture and plant records staff in 2014. And, yes, a sigh of relief to be able to broaden our horizons beyond all-consuming capital projects for the year to focus on these smaller maintenance improvements of our established gardens, grounds and collections. Please stay tuned for further posts and photos on many of these exciting changes to take place in 2014 at our botanic gardens.
Witt Winter Garden
1) Calluna vulgaris ‘Robert Chapman’ Heather, Ling
- This monotypic genus is native from northwestern Europe, through Siberia and Turkey, all the way to Morocco and the Azores.
- The species has over 500 cultivars – some noted for spectacular flower displays in summer, while others display fantastic foliage coloration in winter.
- C.v. ‘Robert Chapman’ has golden foliage throughout summer, which turns red in winter and spring.
2) Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ Bloodtwig Dogwood
- In winter, the yellow stems of this twiggy shrub brighten to a stunning display of reds and oranges, depending on sun exposure.
3) Danae racemosa Alexandrian, Poet’s Laurel
- This native of Iran and Turkey has no true leaves, only leaf-like modified stem tissue called phylloclades.
- Tiny, yellow flowers that grow directly on the stem produce dramatic red fruits in winter.
- Poet’s Laurel was used by the Romans and Greeks to crown exemplary athletes, orators and poets.
4) Garrya x issaquahensis ‘Carl English’ Silk Tassel
- A hybrid of G. elliptica and G. fremontii, this Garrya bears purple-tinged silvery flower tassels in winter.
- Both parents are native to the west coast of the United States.
5) Hamamelis mollis Witch Hazel
- This Chinese witch hazel has large, very fragrant, golden-yellow flowers in early winter.
The Washington Park Arboretum (WPA) staff was delighted to host the staff and interns from the Elisabeth C. Miller garden for an educational walk and talk Wednesday January 8th. The wind and rain didn’t stop this intrepid group of horticulturists from walking the Pacific Connections Gardens and the ever-changing, always stunning Joe Witt Winter Garden. The Miller Garden staff was gracious enough to bring several plants to gift to the WPA, continuing the Miller family’s legacy of supporting the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. A big thank you goes out to Roy Farrow (a former Miller garden intern and current WPA horticulturist) for coordinating this meeting of plant-world minds.
My experience as a volunteer at the UW Arboretum…
It was the first quarter of my freshman year at the University of Washington. I was enrolled in an environmental studies class, and we, the students, were given an option between doing a book report and volunteering for “service learning.” Man, was I glad I chose to volunteer, because my time at the arboretum was great.
The arboretum is an escape from the city without leaving the city. There you are, standing in a metropolis, but you’re surrounded by tall trees, whistling birds, and sweet silence; it’s oxymoronic. I was living in a dormitory at the time, and the constant shuffle of neighbors, or the bumping music of the guys four doors down, kept me on-edge, not relaxed. But, once in the arboretum, all that white noise was gone. Even though I was there to volunteer and to work, I found myself energized upon leaving.
My time at the arboretum was mostly spent in the vegetable garden and in the pollination garden. Some days I would pull weeds, till soil, and flip compost, others I would dig up cobblestones and carry gravel. But everything I did was not strenuous. It was simply a light task. Other volunteers had similarly stress-free work. Some were assigned to lead field trips and tours around the park and others researched plant species that would suit the habitat.
I have not been to a place with more polite people than the arboretum. Everyone from the lady at the front desk to Patrick, my supervisor, greeted me with a smile each time I came by. If you happen to see Patrick when you’re there, ask him about his travels in South America; he’s got some cool stories.
If you’re thinking about volunteering, I highly encourage you to do so. My experience at the arboretum was exactly what I was looking for: chill, soothing and stress-free.
We are pleased to announce two new email newsletters: Leaflet and Leaflet for Scholars. These monthly publications showcase Library art exhibits, recommended resources and a complete list of new books added the previous month. The book covers are linked to their corresponding records in the Library catalog so registered patrons can place a hold. Leaflet for Scholars focuses on academic resources of interest to students and faculty.
To subscribe to either or both newsletters simply fill out the form and then click the confirmation link that will be emailed to you.
We welcome your feedback and suggestions!
By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus
On June 29, 1988, the Douglas Research Conservatory was dedicated. It was a state-of-the-art facility for plant propagation, research, and horticultural education. The facility was made possible through a one million dollar donation from the estate of the late Neva Douglas, daughter of the University’s Metropolitan Tract developer, John Francis Douglas. The gift was given in memory of Douglas and his wife, Neva Bostwick Douglas. The facility featured 5000 square feet of glass-house space and 8000 square feet for support facilities. It included a laboratory, classroom, growth chambers, storage, experimental construction spaces, and offices.
The Douglas’ son, James B. Douglas, was the developer of Northgate and many other shopping malls. He was instrumental in directing the gift, along with his son, James C. Douglas of San Diego, CA. It also show-cased innovative computer technology, which monitored and controlled vents, fans, temperatures, and other events throughout the glass houses.
The Metropolitan Tract was given to the University of Washington in 1861 and was its original site until 1895. The Tract has long been the financial heart of downtown Seattle. The Tract’s business success began in 1907. In the ensuing 20 years, the Douglas Metropolitan Building Company constructed 13 major buildings, including the White Building (1909) and the Skinner Building (1927).
The Douglas Research Conservatory was the last major building built and dedicated at the Union Bay site at the Center for Urban Horticulture.
Tucked away behind the Cedrus knoll in the Arboretum’s Pinetum is the Euonymus europaeus ‘atrorubens’. At this time of year it is showing off its colorful seed pods, which hang all over the defoliated branches. A plant that has pink and orange fruits really catches your eye when you pass by.
This shrub is native to Europe and Western Asia and its common names are Spindle Tree and Cat Tree. It grows to 8′-10′ making it a good plant for a sunny spot in an urban garden. The flowers are borne in the spring and are insignificant, but the plant is used ornamentally for its red fall color and brilliant winter seed pods.