What to Read this Summer? We Have Suggestions!

June 3rd, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

A few thought provoking books on display in the Miller Library.

This summer, check out a good book

We hope summer brings you sun, fresh air, and time to read. On display this month in the northwest corner you’ll find a few off-the-beaten-path selections to engage your intellect this summer. With topics ranging from poetry to environmental policy and history to biography, there’s something for every reader. See recommended titles in the Garden of Ideas list of books available to borrow from the Miller Library.

[Originally appeared in Leaflet for Scholars e-newsletter.]

May Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

May 15th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 11-24, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (May 11-24, 2015)

1)  Cytisus x praecox ’Luteus’           Warminster Broom

  • This broom is a hybrid of C. multiflorus and C. purgans and is located on Arboretum Drive in the Legume Collection.
  • Many of the brooms are blooming now or soon to bloom, including the pineapple broom, Argyrocytisus battandieri, whose fragrance earned it its common name.

2)  Erica arborea var. alpina           Tree Heath

  • While non-alpine tree heath can reach heights in excess of 20 feet, the alpine variety is the “short” one, reaching only 10 to 15 feet.
  • Alpine tree heath has white flowers versus light-gray, and the scent is reminiscent of honey.

3)  Hydrangea luteovenosa           Sweet Hydrangea

  • In full bloom now, this semi-trailing Hydrangea is located on the Ridgetop Trail in Rhododendron Glen.
  • Though widely distributed in western Japan, this species of Hydrangea is critically endangered in Korea.

4)  Rhododendron ‘Snow Lady’ x Rhododendron degronianum ssp yakushimanum

  • Hybrids are often created to blend two or more outstanding traits from two separate taxa into one single plant, e.g. flower color and leaf indumentum.
  • There are several areas in the Washington Park Arboretum, including Azalea Way, Loderi Valley, Rhododendron Glen and the Puget Sound Rhododendron Hybridizers bed, showcasing many hundreds of hybrids of Rhododendron.

5)  Syringa reflexa           Nodding Lilac

  • The buds of Syringa reflexa start out a rosy–red before opening to pink and eventually fading to almost white.
  • The specific epithet “reflexa” refers to the nodding habit of the flower heads.
  • Lilacs are located throughout the Washington Park Arboretum, though many are found just south of the Woodland Garden along Azalea Way.

Restoration and Renewal in the Goodfellow Grove

May 11th, 2015 by Rosemary Baker

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) and white western redbud (Cercis occidentalis alba) in April bloom

It’s spring and time for a full on revival in the Center for Urban Horticulture’s Goodfellow Grove!  Dedicated to the late Marilou Goodfellow, the Grove was designed to demonstrate the use of native plants in a transitional landscape and is aptly located between the formal ornamental gardens in and around the Center for Urban Horticulture and the “wilderness” of the Union Bay Natural Area.

As a former UW Botanic Gardens graduate student, a botanist and restoration ecologist, and landscape designer specializing in native plants with horticultural appeal, I am thankful for the opportunity as the new gardener assigned to the grove.

We are working on re-defining original beds and pathways, taming and radically renovating shrubs and trees, and will be installing beautiful true native/native cultivar wildflowers and groundcovers for the upcoming summer events season.  If you see me, ask me about wild foraging – there are some native edibles in the grove and even the weeds are delicious…








The serviceberry grove (Amelanchier x grandiflora) in full April


Cardamine oligosperma also known as bittercress or shot-weed is an edible green great for mixed salads

May Dispatch from the Forest Grove

May 7th, 2015 by Kit Harrington


      Who doesn’t love spring? It’s the earth’s bright green answer to winter’s dreary grey; when all the world begins to grow anew. If autumn is a time for introductions and winter for exploration, then spring is the season for culmination. In autumn we ground the students in the important, fundamental lessons of the forest grove: clearly identifying the boundaries (both figurative and literal) of the classroom; teaching an awareness of self, social expectations, and emotional responses; guiding newfound interest in the natural world. Throughout the winter we build on these lessons through experiential learning, and when spring comes they have already taken root. So now it is May and already we’ve begun encountering the result of all this preparation—new tendrils of independence, exploration, and self-direction emerging from a solid foundation of confidence and respect. The children know what their needs are and they know how to get those needs met.


     Confidence and self-control empowers the students to engage with the environment in new ways and overcome unexpected challenges. When the tree nest was accidentally dismantled, the children approached it as an opportunity and not a setback and have worked on it as a team almost every day during the weeks since. And now that the kids are adept at managing transitions, we get to spend more time exploring the surrounding area in small groups and taking short “field trips.” Currently, we are making a point of getting down to the garden at least once a week with the help of our wonderful interns and volunteers, but we look forward to adding in a story time or two at the library come June and possibly even a trip to the Center for Urban Horticulture. When Sarah and I left to speak at the BGCI Education Congress the children felt excited to have Joanna, Kate, and Alicia in the classroom and were able to continue to learn and engage and not feel overwhelmed at the change in teachers. From an adult perspective, these steps may seem small, but in early childhood they are huge accomplishments, reflective of many months of hard work and cooperation. The underlying self-regulatory skills that propel these achievements will play a crucial role in the success of both graduating and returning students next year as they encounter new peer groups and personal challenges.


     Cognitively, the preschoolers in both classes are at point where they are considering the lessons in a more abstract way, making connections between ideas and experiences and considering the implications of what they are learning. Over the past few months we have begun gently encouraging the children to strive to engage in more extended exploration and study on a particular topic, and to stay regulated and attentive throughout circle. In addition to being empowering, this level of concentration and control is allows the students to gain a deeper understanding of the topics we are learning about.

Learning to associate numeral and quantity with reptile countingOur natural science theme this year is “vertebrates” and the students are enjoying connecting their lessons at circle with their experiences in the field. We moved from mammals to birds and over the past two weeks began studying reptiles and more recently, amphibians. The children learned that reptiles are cold-blooded, lay leathery-shelled eggs, and have scales. We discussed and read books about common reptiles including snakes, lizards, and turtles. A number of the children built their own reptiles from the bones up, adding scales to cover the body and using materials from the forest floor to make a nest. A “Reptiles of Washington State” matching work provided fodder for discussion and gave children the opportunity to match pictures as well as words. A sensory tub with sand, eggs, and reptiles became a center for socialization and imaginative play. At circle time the children learned silly and informative songs about turtles and boa constrictors. A walk to the Azalea Way pond allowed for some first hand experience with reptiles here at the arboretum. Upon our return from the Education Congress the children shared their delight at discovering two painted turtles swimming around a large koi fish! We hope to return there soon for more discoveries.

     Last week our wonderful stand-in teachers Joanna and Kate introduced our new amphibians unit. The children listened to stories about amphibians and enjoyed a new amphibian sensory tub with water. Over the next week and a half we will continue to learn about amphibians and their life cycles and contrast their characteristics with those of reptiles. We will keep our eyes peeled for salamanders both in the water and out and are hoping that we can find some chorus frog tadpoles to examine as well. In addition we will be further exploring camouflage among amphibians and reptiles and do some experiments to help us better understand why clean water is essential to the life of a healthy frog.


     Another new material in the forest grove is the beautiful scrapbook Joanna started last week with the help of the children. Since then drawing pictures of our classroom and areas we visit around the arboretum has become a hugely popular, collaborative effort. It is a wonderful way for the children to reflect and remember and it helps us grown-ups better understand how the students perceive their world. We look forward to continuing this project throughout the rest of the school year and in the coming years as well, and see it as an important tool for documenting the learning that goes on up in the forest grove.


     When Sarah and I returned from St. Louis we brought with us a new book, the aptly named How to Find Flower Fairies by Cicely May Barker. We chose to introduce it because of the creative way the authors use the pop-up book format to encourage children to peer into, under, and around objects in their environment. It immediately became an incentive for engaging with the environment in precise, very thoughtful ways. In small groups, the children enjoy discussing their own perspective on fairies and whether they are real, and these conversations provide an opportunity to practice listening to and respecting different opinions.


     “Are fairies real?” is a common question in the forest grove, and more than just encouraging imaginative play it has provided the children with a basis for using scientific principles to develop hypotheses, gather evidence and arrive at conclusions. We encourage the students to explore and experiment and come to their own conclusions, and the group is about equally split on where they stand in this regard. Too often in early childhood education we try to inhibit debate among young children, but Sarah and I believe it is impossible to teach conflict resolution without allowing the students to practice differences of opinion. When children freely express their own opinions and are encouraged to consider other’s, they develop a sense of self while simultaneously building empathy. Whether or not they “believe,” the process of searching for, discussing, and constructing elaborate new dwellings for these imaginary creatures wherever we go is enthralling. It is the shared journey, the tiny discoveries, and the potential of the unknown that lie at the heart of this experience and make it so compelling. Both Sarah and I consider the experience of magic during childhood as a provision for the grown-up conviction that anything is possible, and so it is wonderful to watch our little fairy scientists questioning and engaging with the natural world.


    Over the next few months there is still much more to do, more to learn, more to explore. We will finish our vertebrates theme by studying fish before moving on to an in-depth study of wetlands and habitats here at the arboretum. The garden will continue to play a central role in our natural science curriculum. Students will study plant life cycles, learn about native plants and noxious weeds, and come to understand the role of different insects on plant health. We will take our time learning and make sure to follow the children’s lead whenever possible. The depth of their learning is so much greater when they guide the process themselves.


     As an educator, I try to take the time to step back and just observe when I can. When the opportunity arises I will sit back on my heels for a moment and watch the kids at work; hands digging in the dirt, eyes peering intently into the undergrowth, lips curled into a faint smile. From this vantage point, it is clear that the past two years of learning and living in the forest grove have culminated in a group of children who are capable and empowered to do anything they set their minds to. At moments like these, I am absolutely certain that it is going to be an absolutely wonderful spring.

Tune in next time for more news of Fiddleheads and the Forest Grove….

All the best,

Kit and Sarah

Glimpse into the past – Mrs. Sawyer’s Bench

May 7th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

By John A. Wott, Director Emeritus

Today’s visitors to the Washington Park Arboretum walk past historical artifacts not knowing why they might be there.  One of those is the Memorial Fountain dedicated to the late Mrs. W.W. Sawyer, along Arboretum Drive E. opposite Rhododendron Glen.


Finished fountain, bench and plantings. Photo by J. A. Wit

An article written by J. A. Witt, in the Arboretum Foundation Bulletin Summer (24:3, pg. 62) chronicles its dedication on Monday, February 21, 1961.  Mr. Sawyer and members of the Maude Sawyer Unit (No. 19), who made a handsome donation for its construction, were present.

“This charming and practical memorial….was designed by Dr. Donald J. Foote, a former member of the University of Washington’s Architect’s staff.  It was constructed by personnel from the mason’s shop of the UW Physical Plant Department, using granite blocks for the wall as well as the fountain basin.”  The site also originally had special collection plants of Berberis aquifolium ‘Compacta’ and Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna, surrounded by three camellia.

A series of pictures shows the site before, during its construction, and today. Like most artifacts in the WPA, they are in a state of decline. Twenty years ago, the running water fountain was changed to a hand-manipulated one. Later, the water was entirely stopped. The granite portion is still proudly standing and is easily seen.   Budget cutbacks in both state and city budgets do not provide funds to maintain these historical landmarks which are usually removed when they fall into total disrepair.


View on March, 11, 1958. Photo by J.A. Witt



Construction September 30, 1960. Photo by J. A. Witt


Construction September 30, 1960. Photo by J. A. Witt


Construction October 3, 1960. Photo by J. A. Witt


Mrs. Sawyer’s memorial bench today, May 6, 2015. Photo by J. A. Wott

Weeding Strategies from a Professional

May 4th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Photo by vilseskogen

April showers bring May weeds? Shotweed, dandelion, buttercup, morning glory and SO MANY MORE weeds thrive in our mild maritime climate. Many home gardeners feel overwhelmed by unwanted plants crowding out desirable flowers or vegetables.  How do professional gardeners manage weeds? Kathleen DeMaria, Botanic Gardens  Horticulturist, shares her favorite tool and the strategy she uses in the New Zealand forest at the Washington Park Arboretum.

“If I could only have one gardening tool for the rest of my life it would be a digging fork with a ‘D’ handle. Not a curved fork like a pitchfork, but a smaller fork with four flat, thick, stainless steel tines. I prefer the D handle over the T handle because I feel I get more leverage with it and feels right with my wrist. I use it to loosen soil around an area before I weed or to turn over soil and break up heavy clumps. It is also great for getting to the base of a dandelion without snapping it or cutting it.”

“As far as philosophy and  technique, I like to use my fork to loosen an entire area and then use my hori hori to help me pull the weeds without leaving the roots in the soil. I tend to work on clearing one area at a time and then mulch the area right after I weed it to give me some extra time before the weeds come back. In spring I’m less systematic and go into triage mode and seek and destroy anything that is close to seeding or fully engulfing another plant.”

The Boys and Girls and Their Boats

May 1st, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (April 27 - May 10, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (April 27 – May 10, 2015)

Opening Day crew races through the Montlake Cut, and the 1936 USA Olympic gold in rowing may never have happened without these following trees:

1)  Thuja plicata        Western Red Cedar

  • UW’s world-renowned boat maker, George Pocock followed the lead of Native Americans and used this Pacific Northwest giant for the hulls of his Pocock Classics.
  • The skin is made from a single plank of 3/32″ thick cedar and offers a combination of stiffness and springiness that eliminates the need for the extra weight of a hull.

2)  Pinus lambertiana        Sugar Pine

  • Keels of Pocock’s boats were made from this soft, even-grained Oregon native.
  • Sugar pine has very low shrinkage when it dries, so hull warping and cracking was kept to a minimum with this choice wood.

3)  Xanthocyparis nootkatensis        Alaska Yellow Cedar

  • Cheeks (two lowest timbers at the head rails) and washboards (thin planks fastened to the side to keep out water) were made from this honey-colored wood.
  • Pocock was especially fond of the way Xanthocyparis aged with Thuja plicata.

4)  Picea sitchensis       Sitka Spruce

  • Hand-carved seats and gunnels (uppermost plank in a hull) were made from these giants from Vancouver, BC.

5)  Picea engelmannii        Engelman Spruce

  • Oars used in rowing competitions are made from Engelman Spruce.
  • The oar consists of three bonded pieces made from one single plank of Engelman spruce split to make mirror-imaged sides, and another piece is cut for the center.

Resources:  http://www.pocockclassic.org, http://shipwrightjournal.blogspot.com

Runoff Now Feeds Prairie Rain Garden at Center for Urban Horticulture

May 1st, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Malcolm Howard standing in the prairie rain garden in its first spring after planting, looking west across the Union Bay Natural Area.

What to do about muddy puddles caused by rain runoff in the middle of a trail used by hundreds of people every day? Could a garden solve the problem?

Masters of Environmental Horticulture graduate student Malcolm Howard choose this problem area as his MEH project. He explains how the site was chosen: “The rain garden was placed along the trail to intercept runoff from the nearby parking lot. Instead of water ponding on the trail after rains, the rain garden helps retain this runoff and convey the remaining water under the trail.”

The prairie rain garden was installed just south west of the parking lot that is on the west side of Merrill Hallat the Center for Urban Horticulture. The trail leads to the popular Union Bay Natural Area where visitors enjoy watching birds and feeling immersed in a wild place.

What does Malcolm expect to accomplish with the Prairie Rain Garden? “I hope that the garden can help improve trail conditions, while displaying some interesting native prairie plants for people to enjoy and learn about.”

The Prairie Rain Garden received a small project grant from the UW Sustainability Fund in January 2015.

Prairie Rain Garden Summary with plant list.

New Workshop: Learn to Inspire Action that Supports Urban Forests

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

 Building Support for Urban Forests
Using a Social Marketing Approach

Thursday, June 18, 8:30am – 4:30pm

Fall Color
UW Botanic Gardens Center for Urban Horticulture
3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98105
Registration fee: $125, lunch included
Contact: urbhort@uw.edu, 206.685.8033

Register online!


Communicating the value of healthy urban forests, inspiring desired actions, and securing adequate support can be very challenging in today’s atmosphere of limited budgets and competing priorities.

This workshop is designed to empower urban forest managers and advocates with effective marketing tools that will influence target audience behaviors and inspire actions to protect the environment.

Participants will use a 10-step strategic planning model to:

  • Select target audiences
  • Prioritize desired behaviors
  • Identify audience barriers, benefits and motivators
  • Develop a strategic marketing mix that produces desired outcomesNancy-Lee

Nancy Lee, president of Social Marketing Services Inc., an adjunct faculty at the UW Evans School of Public Affairs, and co-author of Social Marketing: Changing Behaviors for Good, will lead this full-day intensive workshop. Lee has been a consultant for more than 150 nonprofit and public sector agencies and has participated in the development of more than 200 social marketing campaign strategies.


What is Social Marketing?

Social marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. It seeks to integrate research, best practice, theory, audience and partnership insight, to inform the delivery of competition sensitive and segmented social change programs that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable.




April Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

April 19th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist
Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (April 13 - 26, 2015)

Selected cuttings from the Washington Park Arboretum (April 13 – 26, 2015)

1)  Acer cissifolium        Vine-leaf Maple

  • A three-leaf maple native to Japan.
  • The extraordinary racemes of tiny flowers give the tree a cloud-like appearance.
  • Located in the Asiatic Maple Collection.

2)  Acer rubrum        Red Maple

  • This popular street tree is native to eastern North America.
  • On this sample the petals have fallen, leaving the elongating peduncles and their tiny, immature samaras.
  • Located in grid 3-5E on Arboretum Drive.

3)  Cornus florida        Flowering Dogwood

  • Named for its showy bracts.
  • Native to the eastern United States.
  • These cuttings are from ‘Royal Red’ near the south end of Azalea Way and from an unlabeled white cultivar near the north end.

4)  Cornus nuttallii        Pacific Dogwood

  • A west coast native named for Thomas Nuttall– a British botanist and explorer.
  • Natural seedlings are scattered throughout the Arboretum.
  • This is the provincial “flower” and floral emblem of British Columbia.

5)  Cornus nuttallii x florida    ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’

  • So named because it was one of a few survivors of a flood at Henry Eddie’s nursery near Vancouver, B.C.
  • It is a hybrid of Cornus nuttallii and C. florida.
  • Several specimens are growing along Azalea Way.