Last Week of Grow the Farm Crowdfunding Initiative

March 4th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

UWFarm-winter-2015Recently, the UW Farm embarked on an exciting crowdfunding initiative to help expand and improve their facilities this year. Through the site USeed, the UW Farm is hoping to raise enough funds during their current campaign to:

  1. Build additional hoop-style greenhouses
  2. Build a better wash station
  3. Build a cob oven and install a new shelter at the Center for Urban Horticulture

The crowdfunding initiative is already off and running, so by joining in with your donation you can help to ensure that the UW Farm meets these goals, thereby bringing greater awareness of sustainable food production and educational opportunities to both the UW community and to Seattle. Visit the initiative at USeed today to learn more about the Farm’s current impact and future goals, and to lend your support to the UW Farm this year.

Tour New Zealand’s Gardens

March 3rd, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

with University of Washington Botanic Gardens
Led by Director Sarah Reichard
November 1-16, 2015
Registration deadline: July 29, 2015



Famous for its incredible landscapes and natural beauty, New Zealand’s geographic isolation over millions of years has resulted in unique native flora: roughly 80% of the country’s trees, ferns, and flowering plants are endemic. This remarkable plant life combines with unusual fauna and a vibrant cultural history to create the magical, welcoming atmosphere for which New Zealand is known. During this 16- day program, you’re invited to explore the country’s must-see botanical treasures and view impressive specialty collections. Travel among pristine lakes, green valleys, glaciers, and mountains while enjoying activities and visits to sites of natural and cultural importance for an in-depth journey into the “Land of the Long White Cloud.”

2015 Spring Park in the Dark Dates

February 26th, 2015 by Sasha McGuire, Education Program Assistant

Night time is special at the Arboretum – the people and cars are gone, and the nocturnal animals move about. Night hikes are a chance for us to explore our senses, search for crepuscular and nocturnal movements in the forest and learn about night-related animal adaptations. Programs are designed for families with children aged 5-12 though all ages are welcome! We will meet at the Graham Visitors Center (2300 Arboretum Dr E)
Hikes are always from 7:30-9pm on the Saturday nights listed below:

2015 Spring DatesNight Hike Image

  • April 11th
  • May 9th
  • June 13th

Cost is $8 per person
Register online or call 206-685-8033

Pre-registration is required. This allows our instructor to properly plan and prepare for each class so that you and your family can get the most out of it. Drop-ins are not accepted.

February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

February 22nd, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 17 - March 1, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 17 – March 1, 2015)

1)  Camellia japonica      ‘Nina Avery’

  • Due to this year’s mild winter thus far, many plants here have begun flowering much earlier than normal, and Camellias are certainly no exception. Many specimens can be seen in bloom along Arboretum Drive near Rhododendron Glen.

2)  Camellia x williamsii      ‘Mary Christian’

  • Soon after C. saluenensis began to flower it was crossed with C. japonica, notably by J. C. Williams at Caerhays. One of the first plants raised there was named ‘Mary Christian’.
  • Trumpet-shaped, single, carmine-pink flowers are currently on display.

3)  Larix kaempferi      Japanese Larch

  • The needle-shaped leaves of L. kaempferi are just beginning to emerge.
  • Native to Japan and able to reach 80-100 feet in height, this species was introduced by John Gould Veitch in 1861.
  • A member of the family Pinaceae, this specimen is located in the Pinetum near the Stone Bridge.

4)  Magnolia      ‘Royal Crown’

  • This is a popular clone with dark red-to-violet flowers, white on the inside. It was first hybridized by D. Todd Gresham of Santa Cruz, California, who sometimes referred to plants of his cross as the “svelte brunettes” because of the dark color and sleek form of the flowers.
  • Located along Arboretum Drive within the Magnolias.

5)  Symphoricarpos orbiculatus      Coralberry

  • A dense, bushy shrub with ornamental fruit currently on display.
  • Native to the United States.
  • Specimen located within the Viburnums.

Announcing a Crowdfunding Campaign to Grow the UW Farm

February 10th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

The UW Farm has launched a USEED crowdfunding campaign with the goal of raising $9,000 to build a new cob oven and structure, a new wash station, and reusable and portable hoop houses. These projects will build on the capacity of the UW Farm, increase their educational opportunities, and give them an amazing space to gather for pizza bakes and community gatherings.

UW Farm at CUH

Based at the Center for Urban Horticulture, the UW Farm is a student-driven urban farm that inspires students to think critically about our food system, while also providing them a physical space to experiment and learn about urban agriculture. Please help us GROW!

USEED@UW is a powerful tool for fueling initiatives through crowd-sourced philanthropic giving. It provides a platform in which people can partner with the University on any number of projects and share the news with their friends, family and colleagues. Together, we can provide a dynamic learning environment and embrace the spirit of discovery, innovation and community involvement at the heart of the UW.

February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

February 4th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 2 - 15, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (February 2 – 15, 2015)

Donald Culross Peattie in the Washington Park Arboretum

Staff horticulturist, Ryan Garrison recently listened to an audio version of Donald Culross Peattie’s book, “A Natural History of North American Trees.” He very much enjoyed its mix of science and literary art, and would like to share a few gems about trees in the collection with you.

1)  Carya ovata – Shellbark or Scalybark Hickory
“To everyone with a feeling for things American, and for American history, the Shagbark seems like a symbol of the pioneer age, with its hard sinewy limbs and rude, shaggy coat, like the pioneer himself in fringed deerskin hunting shirt. And the roaring heat of its fires, the tang of its nuts – that wild manna that every autumn it once cast lavishly before the feet – stand for the days of forest abundance.” 1

2)  Pseudotsuga menziesii – Douglastree; Douglas, yellow, or Red Spruce; Oregon Pine
“In the literature of forestry it has wavered between Douglas Fir and Douglas Spruce, though it is no Spruce and no true Fir, as botanist see matters. Some years ago the Forest Service officially settled on “Douglas Fir” and if this impaction seems to you to clear up matters, you may use it with the blessings of the Government Printing Office. The least misleading of proposed names is Douglastree, since it leans on no analogies and still does honor to that noble pioneer among explorer-botanists of the Northwest, David Douglas.” 1

3)  Sequoia sempervirens – California Redwood, Coastal Sequoia, Sempervirens, Palo Colorado
“Your footfalls make no sound on the needles and moss that have lain there for centuries. Your body casts no shadow in that green, lake like diffused light. The goose honking of a car, the calling of a child, fade into the immensity of silence. Time, the common tick-tock of it, ceases here, and you become aware of time in another measure – out of an awesome past. For this forest has stood here since the Ice Age, and here, together with this transfixed past, is the future too, for these immense lives will outlast yours by a thousand years or so.” 1

4)  Sequoiadendron giganteum – California Bigtree; Sierra Redwood; Mammoth-tree
“The summers are exceedingly dry; if rain does fall it is apt to come with violent thunderstorms and lightning bolts that have been seen to rive a gigantic Sequoia from the crown to its roots. Those who know the species best maintain that it never dies of disease or senility. If it survives the predators of its infancy and the hazard of fire in youth, then only a bolt from heaven can end its centuries of life. Perhaps, if this majestic tree had a will, it would prefer to go this way, by an act of God.” 1

1 Peattie, Donald Culross, and Paul Landacre. A Natural History of North American Trees. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Print.

Glimpse into the Past – Remembering the First Northwest Flower & Garden Show

February 4th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

A former staff member, Rebecca Johnson, shared with me a copy of the “First Annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show” program, held on Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 17-20, 1989.   On February 10, 2015, the 26th Show will open. I am proud to say that I have attended each one, including the Preview Party, a benefit for the Washington Park Arboretum. This 48-page colored glossy printed program was a synopsis of horticulture in the Northwest at that time.  The cover photograph, taken by the late Jerry Sedenko, features the Streissguth Garden, now a public garden on the slope of north Capitol Hill.

cover photo

This indeed was an exciting event, showcasing such a sizable indoor garden  display never before seen here.  A dream come true of the founder and owner, Duane Kelly, it was patterned after the fabulous shows of Boston, New York, and  Philadelphia.  Jane Pepper (Philadelphia) and Richard Daley (Mass. Hort. Society)  were advisers.  Duane’s vision and enthusiasm for the Seattle show is expressed in the “Welcome to the Show” program introduction.  The appreciation list is a glimpse of Northwest horticulture leadership including Dr. Harold Tukey, Nancy Davidson Short, Steve Lorton, Jerry Wilmot, Egon Molbak, and Ann Lovejoy as well as Kathleen Brenzel of Sunset Magazine.


The 25 gardens were built and sponsored by Molbak’s, Star Nursery, Iseli Nursery, Briggs Nursery, Swanson’s, Rodda and Sons, Weyerhaeuser Nursery Products,  Weyerhaeuser Specialty Plants, Price Ragen, Magnolia Lawn and Garden, Washington Park Arboretum, Barford’s Hardy Ferns, Furney’s, Seattle Water Department, Seattle Parks Volunteer Park Conservatory, Jackson and Perkins, Skagit Gardens/Wight’s, Highridge Corporation, Puget Sound Bonsai, Ikebana International, Big Rock Garden, Bamboo Brokerage, Columbia Greenhouse, FTD Florists, and Boeing Aerospace Company. There was also a children’s garden.  The entire garden layout plus all the retail booths were on the fourth floor.


The center section of the program contained colored pictures and short descriptions of 26 Northwest public gardens in an article written by Nancy Clark Hewitt in which she states that “the Northwest is blessed with an excess of natural beauty inspired by nature’s bounty.  A rich gardening tradition has developed here, and is to be showcased in the show. “


From the very moment of conception Duane wanted the Northwest Flower and Garden Show to be educational, and I was privileged to plan and lead these free lectures and seminars for those first years, then held on the sixth floor.  As stated by Duane, “these programs “represent the greatest amount of horticultural, floral, and landscape knowledge ever assembled under one roof in the Northwest.”  We were overwhelmed with attendees and early on struggled to contain waiting lines.  In addition the show offered free booth space to horticultural societies where the public could find answers and talk to local experts.

Over these 26 yrs, the NWFGS has changed with the times, but it is still one of the best indoor garden shows of the USA, if not the world.  Why not follow in the footsteps of thousands and attend the forthcoming Northwest Flower and Garden Show, “Romance Blossoms?”

Northwest Horticultural Society 2015 Plant Sale

February 4th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

Camellia japonica ‘Jupiter (Paul)’. One of the many winter treasures growing at the Arboretum.

Alert, serious plant lovers: Get your hands on rare and ephemeral early spring plants at the 2015 Northwest Horticultural Society’s Spring Plant Sale, March 7th at 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Proceeds benefit the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.

Please join us for a special lecture, Late Winter Treasures of the U.W. Botanic Gardens, by Raymond J. Larson, the Curator of Collections at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. The lecture begins at 10:00 am.


Get a jump start on spring at the 2015 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

January 30th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

Flower show logoSpringtime is on the cusp of arrival here in Seattle, which means it’s time once again to be immersed in the rich sensory wonder that is the Northwest Flower & Garden Show (NWFGS). Heralding the beginning of the new growing season, the NWFGS celebrates gardening by showcasing spectacular planting designs and provides a myriad of opportunities to learn more, stock-up on plants, and let your imagination run wild. The show will be held this February 11-15th at the Washington State Convention Center.

Make sure to stop by the UW Botanical Gardens’ educational booth, #2513, to explore the many opportunities we’ll be offering this year to develop new gardening skills and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Botanic Gardens. The UWBG booth theme is “Discover & Learn,” and will highlight the Arboretum’s interactive map, our year-round educational opportunities, and the iconic locations throughout the botanic gardens.

“Romance Blossoms” at the 2015 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

The theme for this year’s show couldn’t be more fitting for Valentine’s Day weekend. “Romance Blossoms” will be the inspiration behind the 21 featured show gardens, designed by the region’s top landscape designers. This year, following suite with the show’s theme, the gardens will display even more rich floral abundance, 50% more to be precise. This is due to the show’s commitment to an expanded “forcing” program in collaboration with two local growers.

A Successful Failure

January 30th, 2015 by Kathleen DeMaria, Arboretum Gardener

The Washington Park Arboretum rang in the new year with a series of windstorms that broke limbs, downed trees and dulled chain saws. What the storms didn’t do, however, was cause extensive damage to collections, structures, or visitors. “Lucky” might be your first thought, but luck had little to do with it. Proper tree care and a knowledgeable and observant tree care crew allow us to consider our recent tree ‘failures’ successful.

UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson ascends a Hemlock that he is removing. Because this is a removal Watson is using spikes on his boots to assist him with his long climb. Spikes are never worn on trees we prune as they can damage bark.

UWBG Arborist, Chris Watson ascends a Hemlock that he is removing. Because this is a removal Watson is using spikes on his boots to assist him with his long climb. Spikes are never used on trees we prune as they can damage bark.

chris ascending shadow

An early morning climb

Our biggest break in January was one of the Hemlocks that line Arboretum Drive. Years ago it developed a ‘double leader’, or ‘codominant stem’ (2 or more main stems with similar diameter that emerge from the same location on the main trunk). Codominant stems can be challenging as the tree grows because the stems push against each other as they grow together, causing deformity that often results in compressed wood and ‘included bark’. These factors can often lead to a weak spot in the tree that may be susceptible to failure.

UWBG Arborist Chris Watson had been monitoring this Hemlock for years and decided to place a cable in the tree a few years ago to prevent any serious breakouts. His decision and placement were both great moves, as this tree did succumb to the wind, but the broken leader remained cabled to the stronger leader and no damage occurred.

Best view in the Arboretum

Best view in the Arboretum. Watson carefully contemplates his next cut.

You have to work hard for the view.

You have to work hard for the view.

















Anybody who has ever taken a class in the Arboretum with Dr. Bob Edmonds has likely heard him discuss the fungal pathogen Armillaria mellea, commonly called Armillaria root rot, shoestring root rot, or honey mushroom. Unfortunately we have this pathogen in our soils and occasionally when a tree we suspect has the disease falls, we get a chance to investigate. We (and Dr. Edmonds) suspected this tree had Armillaria.

Tell-tale signs of Armillaria mellea include: White, fan-shaped mycelium growing on the inside of the bark and over the sapwood, soft, spongy and stringy wood that has a lighter yellow coloring, and finally and often most noticeable, black shoestring-like ‘rhizomorphs’ in the dead and dying wood at the base of the tree. Upon investigation of this tree, we did find multiple signs of Armillaria including rhizomorphs, white fans of mycelium, soft spongy yellowed wood, and a column of rot in the center of the trunk that the tree had compartmentalized pretty well over the years.

UWBG’s horticulture staff’s diligent monitoring and tree care regimes turned this failure into a great research and teaching opportunity in our living classroom called the Washington Park Arboretum. Come discover and learn with us.


Rhizomorphs from the fungus can be seen here and under a microscope.

Black Rhizomorphs  can be seen here and under a microscope.

Hollow center of this Hemlock indicates decay that the tree has been compartmentalizing for years.

Hollow center of this Hemlock indicates decay that the tree has been compartmentalizing for years.

Soft, spongy and discolored wood where the tree broke indicate the presence of Armillaria.

Soft, spongy and discolored wood where the tree failed indicate the presence of Armillaria.