Cuba, I Just Can’t Quit You

July 21st, 2015 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director

Cuba imageIn 2011 I found out that it was possible to get permits from the federal government to take study tours to Cuba. Given my long-standing interest in that country, I was in the first wave to apply for, and receive one of these licenses, leading the first tour in February 2012. That first trip was an amazing experience – we were among the first large wave of American tourists and the Cuban people could not have been happier to have seen us. They have been through such incredibly hard times, such as the “Special Period” but they are resilient. Those famed old cars are wonderful to see roaming the streets, but they were of necessity – money and availability of newer cars was simply not there. Their famed organic agriculture system started during the Special Period when food and fertilizers were unavailable following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They continued to find ways to not only survive, but to find joy in music and family.

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A typical scene Havana of a vintage car and vintage building.

And the natural history! The birds there are amazing and so many are only found in Cuba! They include (and we saw all of these on the trips) the Cuban pygmy owl (smallest owl in the world), Cuban bee hummingbird (smallest hummingbird in the world), Cuban trogan (the national bird because it has the same colors as their flag), and my favorite, the Cuban tody. The plants include many endemics, including a very rare cycad, which we will see, and many species of orchids.

Beautiful Viñales Valley

Beautiful Viñales Valley

And then there is Viñales. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I have been there on sunny days and pouring rain and it never loses its ethereal beauty. The limestone mogotes rise from the valley floor, cloaked in tropical foliage, while the valley grows a variety of crops, including tobacco for the famous Cuban cigars.

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A tobacco farmer in Viñales, looking straight out of Central Casting!

I loved it so much that first year, that I took groups back in 2013 and 2014. It has been fascinating to go each year and see the changes that the government is slowly implementing. People can own property, start businesses, and there is some greater freedom to travel outside of Cuba. After taking 2015 off to visit Costa Rica instead, I am now happy to announce that UWBG is going to Cuba in 2016! Given the announcements this week of our opening embassies in each other’s countries, it will be an exciting time to visit. So join me on this trip to Cuba in this very historic time! It will be unforgettable!

Dates: February 20 – March 3, 2016
Cost: $3,910 plus $300 donation to UW Botanic Gardens
Detailed Itinerary

Safer Digs For Osprey Now In Union Bay Natural Area

June 12th, 2015 by UWBG Horticulturist

An Osprey nesting pole was installed yesterday in Union Bay Natural Area (UBNA). Located near Carp pond in the SE corner of UBNA loop trail. UW Athletic Dept funded the project when it was realized Osprey were being attracted to nesting in ball fields’ lighting across the way. Hopefully now, people will be safe from falling branches and Osprey will have more appropriate digs to settle into.

Jim Kaiser, consulting wildlife biologist and owner of Osprey Solutions, was hired to do the install. Jim has installed over 300 Osprey nesting poles in the PNW. He is one of the most knowledgeable biologists on Osprey and has quite a fascinating and experienced repertoire in creating new homes for them.

For more information on Osprey and their nests, please visit:

http://www.osprey-solutions.com/

Osprey fact sheet

Attaching nesting platform to pole

Attaching nesting platform to pole

Erecting Nesting Pole

Erecting Nesting Pole

Looking south along UBNA loop trail

Looking south along UBNA loop trail

 

 

New Zealand Beckons: Join us for a Garden Themed Tour

December 31st, 2014 by Sarah Reichard, UW Botanic Gardens Director

I have a confession to make. For the last three years I have been living and breathing the New Zealand flora, as we prepared and then dedicated our new 2.5 acre New Zealand garden for the Washington Park Arboretum. I have met with people from the Seattle/Christchurch sister city organization and plotted celebrations, and I have described the flora to interested people, taking them on tours through the new garden, spouting off scientific names. I have even see the Hobbit movies and tried to recognize the various species of plants in the scenes depicting Middle Earth.

But I have never been to New Zealand.

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Coromandel, New Zealand. Photo by Aftab Uzzaman

Well, all of that is going to change in November. The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is pleased to officially launch a very special tour of New Zealand in November of 2015! Our partners at Holbrook Travel have developed a very special trip for all of us. We will see birds, gardens, forests, and more. It looks like the trip of a lifetime!

We will start out in New Plymouth, where will see the amazing Pukeiti, a rhododendron garden set in a rain forest (remember, it will be spring in the southern hemisphere, so we will see them in flower!). There are more than 10,000 rhododendron plants, with more than 2,000 varieties. While in New Plymouth, we will also visit Pukekura Park, a garden known for its diversity of plants and landscapes.

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New Zealand sunset. Photo by Chris Gin

We will then journey to Auckland, where we will visit Ayrlies Garden, world famous for the beautiful garden Bev McConnell developed. We will even be having lunch with Ms. McConnell. While in Auckland we will visit other gardens and a large park surrounding the cone of an extinct volcano. We will be able to take in some Maori culture, hopefully seeing an example of a haka dance. On our last day in Auckland, we will do the activity that may turn out to be my favorite of the trip – we will take a ferry to Tirtiri Matangi Island. It is an amazing example of ecological restoration, turning long-time farms into native bushland and habitat for birds and other animals. We will be lead around the island by a Department of Conservation staff person.

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Larnach Castle. Photo by Russellstreet

We will then leave the North Island and head south to Dunedin, on the southeast coast of the island. I am really excited that we will be staying at Larnach Castle and Gardens. The castle is 100 years old and the gardens are known to be beautiful. The scenery is spectacular! In Dunedin we will be learn about albatross and yellow-eyed penguin conservation. We will take the Oroklonui Express train, which hugs the coast, to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary. These 750 acres of protected habitat have very rare plants, birds, and reptiles and we will be guided so that we will see more species.

Heading north, we will visit Mount Cook for one night, where we will have the opportunity to explore the area around our hotel or to take a separate expedition to the base of the Tasman Glacier!

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Caine Tuawhare carving a bench in the New Zealand Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.

We will be finishing our adventures in our sister city, Christchurch. After suffering a 6.3 earthquake in 2011, the city is rebuilding, including restoring the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, a place where many people sought refuge after the earthquake. Our sister city officials there have promised us a special welcome! After visits to other gardens in the area, we will visit the workshop of Caine Tauwhare. Caine carved Maori symbols on the very special back slats for a bench in our New Zealand garden. The sister city organization brought Caine to our 2013 garden dedication, where he explained and demonstrated his carvings and performed a mesmerizing ceremony that allowed representatives of the Muckleshoot Tribe to welcome him onto their ancestral lands.

So come with me! We will have so much fun reveling in the rich flora, fauna, gardens, and culture that abound in New Zealand. We will make new friends and have new adventures to last a lifetime! And when we come back, we will visit the garden in the Washington Park Arboretum and remember when and where we saw the beautiful plants that we now share with our visitors.

ITINERARY with cost and full details.

Where in the Arboretum? New interactive map answers that question.

August 5th, 2014 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin
map screenshot

A screen shot of the interactive map with pop-up detail for the tree Toona

A visitor to the Washington Park Arboretum recently wondered if the “tuna” tree grew among its world class collection of woody plants. She asked a staff member who figured out she meant Toona sinensis, a hardy member of the mahogany family with bright pink new growth. “Yes, we have three specimens.” replied Laura Blumhagen, working at the reference desk in the Miller Library. “Where?” asked the visitor. Laura searched the brand-new interactive map, located the Toona trees and directed the visitor to the northwest corner of the Arboretum where Lake Washington curves around near the off ramp from State Route 520.

The online, interactive map identifies landmarks, trails, gardens and most importantly every woody plant growing in the Arboretum. It can be browsed or searched. Users can turn layers on and off, measure distances, draw a custom route and print out a custom map. Zooming into the map reveals thousands of green circles that represent trees and shrubs. Click on a circle to learn the plant’s name and other data related to that individual specimen.
UW Botanic Gardens Director, Professor Sarah Reichard, envisioned a system where public visitors could gain a deeper appreciation of the value of the collections and the story behind each tree, as well as improve management efficiency. “The integration of the existing database and new map has exceeded my expectations” said Dr. Reichard.

In August 2012 the University of Washington Botanic Gardens received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to survey the Arboretum and digitize paper inventory maps. That groundwork enabled the development of a geo-referenced database and a publicly accessible, interactive map. Prior to this project, the paper inventory maps were arduous to update, impossible to search and inaccessible to the public and most staff. Surveying the Arboretum with modern equipment and digitizing inventory maps increased the accuracy of plant location data and decreased the effort to locate plants. Staff management of the collection has improved because time spent searching for plants can now be used caring for them. Docents save time creating seasonal tours by searching the map for trees of interest. The map integrates not just location information, but data about the plant’s name, origin, native range, health condition and the id number for the pressed plant specimen in the Hyde Herbarium.

Articles and posts about the mapping project

Arboretum Bulletin article about the history of mapping at the Arboretum and how the interactive map was created.
IMLS grant funds geo-referenced, integrated database
In the Arboretum with the total station and other milestones
How would you use an interactive map in the Arboretum?
About the map and credits

What does the cone symbolize to you?

April 8th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

The cone represents our collections and the importance of conifers in our landscape. It holds the seeds that embody our commitment to a future where plants and people thrive together.

coneWebFeature_imagine

Much like our varied and extensive collection of woody and herbaceous plants, our organization has evolved and grown over time. Throughout this growth, we have always striven to enrich the lives of students and the public through our education programs, outstanding collections and natural areas. Our two locations, the Center for Urban Horticulture and the Washington Park Arboretum, remain treasured destinations that provide an urban escape, accessible and free, in the heart of Seattle.

With that in mind, we’re very pleased to share with you the latest evolution of our logo. Come grow with us.

uwbgLogo340pxAbout the logo…

THE CONE: Inspired by our native Shore Pine (Pinus contorta), the cone represents our collection and the importance of conifers in our landscape. It holds the seeds that symbolize our commitment to a future where plants & people thrive together.

THE COLORS: Purple & gold to underscore our place within the University of Washington family; we are an integral part of the UW’s School of Environmental & Forest Sciences and serve as a “front porch” where academia mingles with the general public.

THE LOOK: As leaders in the fields of horticulture, environmental restoration and conservation, we are here to share the latest research and expertise with our diverse community of learners. We wanted a look that was professional yet approachable, and recognizable throughout our campus sites and facilities.

Introducing our new look!

February 4th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

Much like our varied and extensive collection of woody and herbaceous plants, our organization has evolved and grown over time. Throughout this growth, we have always striven to enrich the lives of students and the public through our education programs, outstanding collections and natural areas. Our two locations, the Center for Urban Horticulture and the Washington Park Arboretum, remain treasured destinations that provide an urban escape, accessible and free, in the heart of Seattle.

UW Botanic Gardens logo cone

With that in mind, we’re very pleased to share with you the latest evolution of our logo. Come grow with us.

uwbgLogo340px
About the logo…

THE CONE: Inspired by our native Shore Pine (Pinus contorta), the cone represents our collection and the importance of conifers in our landscape. It holds the seeds that symbolize our commitment to a future where plants & people thrive together.

THE COLORS: Purple & gold to underscore our place within the University of Washington family; we are an integral part of the UW’s School of Environmental & Forest Sciences and serve as a “front porch” where academia mingles with the general public.

THE LOOK: As leaders in the fields of horticulture, environmental restoration and conservation, we are here to share the latest research and expertise with our diverse community of learners. We wanted a look that was professional yet approachable, and recognizable throughout our campus sites and facilities.

Come GROW with us at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show!

January 8th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

postcardWith all the sights and smells of springtime, the Northwest Flower & Garden Show signals the end of the winter doldrums and the beginning of the growing season! The show will be held at the Washington State Convention Center, February 5-9. Details can be found at www.gardenshow.com.

Be sure to stop by the UW Botanic Gardens’ educational booth, #2401, to explore the many opportunities we offer for you to bolster your spirit, energize your body, grow your own food, and develop exciting new skills in the year to come. We look forward to seeing you there!

Five Great Holiday Gift Ideas

November 21st, 2013 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer
Monoprint card by Roberta McDaris Long

Monoprint card by Roberta McDaris Long

The holidays are upon us, and we have many opportunities for unique gifts that will delight your friends and family, all while supporting a good cause!

Support local artisans at the Holiday Art, Craft and Gift Sale, December 6-21 at the Miller Library, where you’ll find:

  • Nature-inspired prints, cards and calendars by watercolor artist MOLLY HASHIMOTO
  • Woven textiles, scarves, and wraps by textile artist LINNEA DONNEN
  • Lovely handmade tiles by members of ARTISAN TILE NORTHWEST
  • Botanically-inspired ceramic mugs, bowls, and vases by KATIE MURPHY, UWBG alumna
  • Botanically themed monoprint cards by ROBERTA MCDARIS LONG, shown above*
  • Glass art by JOAN BAZAZ

Join us for the opening reception and sale Friday December 6 from 5-8pm. 25% of proceeds benefit the Miller Library.

For a truly unique, one-of-a-kind gift, consider a framed herbarium specimen, collected from our very own plants at the UW Botanic Garden. These professionally framed pressings artistically showcase beautiful plants in flower or in fruit. Proceeds directly support the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium.

Make a gift to the UW Botanic Gardens in someone’s name. You can give a general gift to the the Director’s Fund, or choose from nine different priority gift funds, such as Rare Plant Care and Conservation Fund or the Union Bay Natural Area Fund.

The UW Botanic Gardens offer a variety of education programs for everyone. Give the nature lovers in your life a gift certificate for one of our Public, Professional or Youth and Family classes. Contact Continuing Education at urbhort@uw.edu or 206-685-8033 to order.

Visit the Arboretum Gift Shop to find a delightful selection of gardening and outdoor books, plant-themed jewelry, natural body products, tools for green thumbs, and much more. Proceeds benefit the Washington Park Arboretum.

 

Academic opportunities at the Botanic Gardens

September 20th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff
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Make connections, gain experience, have fun: get involved at the UW Botanic Gardens!

Welcome UW Students! Make time in your busy schedule to get involved at the Botanic Gardens*. You won’t regret the investment because not only will you gain experience but you will also make connections with professionals and fellow students.

Ways to get involved:

What we do:

  • environmental horticulture
  • restoration ecology
  • public garden management
  • collection development
  • information management
  • communication & social networking
  • marketing
  • curriculum design
  • archives
  • curation
  • arboriculture
  • urban ecology
  • environmental education
  • integrated pest management
  • rare plant conservation
  • continuing education
  • visitor experience & interpretation
  • inventory ground-truthing & GIS mapping
  • surveying

*UW Botanic Gardens has two sites: the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture and includes the Miller Library and Hyde Herbarium. Programs include continuing education for adults, outdoor programs for children plus conservation and restoration projects.

Learn by Doing: Volunteer at the Botanic Gardens

June 6th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff
camp photo

Junior Summer Camp Guides at the Arboretum learn leadership skills and environmental knowledge.

We need your help! We depend on volunteers to keep our gardens looking beautiful, our plant records up to date and the kids programs running smoothly.

Want to get involved, get some work experience, meet new people, have fun? Apply online today!

  • WPA Junior Summer Camp Guides are  high school or college students who teach the little kids about the environment and help keep summer camp running smoothly. Junior Garden Guide Job Description (doc).
  • Plant Records Assistant help with documenting and mapping our living plant collections at the Washington Park Arboretum.
  • Arboretum Visitor Center Front Desk Assistant greets visitors and answers questions. Share your passion about the Arboretum in this position.

These positions and many more are listed on the UWBG Volunteer page.