The misty October revealed a great surprise to New Zealand horticulturist Kathleen DeMaria while she was installing signs for the new ’Lookout Loop Trail’ near the recently restored Lookout Gazebo. Kathleen and fellow horticulturists Rhett Ruecker and Roy Farrow peeked through the fog and barely saw a highly engaged woman taking notes on the new New Zealand Forest. As it turns out, this woman was Rebecca Stanley, Auckland Botanic Gardens Education Officer and former plant ecologist with the Auckland Regional Council. Bec, visiting the US west coast on holiday, graciously offered to spend some time with Kathleen in the garden on the following Saturday. The two plant-geeks spent 4 hours walking through the foggy New Zealand forest. Bec’s encyclopedic knowledge regarding the ethnobotanic uses of plants and the cultural requirements of plants was astonishing, and her willingness to share it all, as well as her educational delivery style were delightful. She offered sources for seed, suggestions for books, names, emails and information about who she knows throughout New Zealand that would be interested and willing to help UWBG grow our own New Zealand forest. Personally, and as a representative of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, I would like to thank Rebecca for all of her time and information, it was a delightful walk in the garden topped off with a delicious lunch at Cactus Cafe and a visit to the downtown library. Thanks so much, Bec! All photos courtesy of Julie Postma.
Recent test results from Washington State University Puyallup Plant & Insect Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed the first case of Dutch Elm Disease (DED) in the core area of the Washington Park Arboretum. The tree, a 45 year old Guernsey Elm (Ulmus minor ‘Sarniensis’), had been suffering from mechanical injury to the root crown and annual infestations of the Elm Leafminer, an insect that that feeds on elm leaves. Over the past year, a significant portion of the tree began showing symptoms similar to DED. Twig and branch samples from the tree showed dark staining in the cambium, which is a typical sign of DED. The samples were sent to the WSU lab in Puyallup, which resulted in a positive diagnosis for DED. The Guernsey Elm has been removed.
Management of Dutch Elm Disease will include frequent monitoring for signs and symptoms of the disease, sanitation pruning, prompt removal of severely infected trees, and root graft disruption when necessary.
For more information on Dutch Elm Disease, click here:
According to Cliff Mass, UW meteorologist, our past winter of 2012-2013 was the most “boring” on record. There were no major weather events such as wind storms, artic blasts, snowfalls in the lowlands or major flooding. This was indeed good news for the UWBG horticulture staff. Instead of spending the winter cleaning up after storms and worrying about how many plants would be affected from cold hardiness issues, we were able to focus on scheduled and planned work projects for a seasonal change of pace. Here’s a rundown of several of these projects we were able to accomplish during this most boring winter.
An adjunct to the current Pacific Connections Garden – New Zealand construction work was taking on the long overdue renovation of the Lookout rockery and reclaiming the lost vistas from the Lookout viewpoints. Arguably the most interesting rock work in the arboretum, the rockery was essentially lost under overgrown plant collections. The crew certainly wasn’t bored with the thought of what new and exciting discoveries lay under the next pruning cut. When the Lookout gazebo reopens to the public, visitors will be able to see the pond and Azalea Way from inside the newly restored structure and experience the original 1941 design intent. In other words, the Lookout is once again a lookout. Also, check out the new Rhododendron species planted along the Lookout trail in honor of Ben and Margaret Hall’s 80th birthdays. They are major supporters and donors of UW Botanic Gardens.
The McVay Courtyard renovation is mostly completed now thanks to Riz and Annie and contains many new additions. The original designer, Iain Robertson, specified renewing the 3 distinct plant groups: Bulbs, Groundcovers and Shrubs. The existing grove of Acer palmatum ‘Aconitifolium’ which were carefully worked around and a few Osmanthus are all that remain of the original tree and shrub palette Iain’s new design incorporates elements of interesting plant architecture, habits and striking bark. Hence his use of several types of Arctostaphylus, the unusual divaricating shrub, Corokia, Rhododendron moupinense, Rh schlippenbachii, and several tidy groundcovers that mimic inanimate forms, such as Raoulia and Bolax. For the bulk of color, Iain chose a wide-range of spring and summer flowering bulbs. Though the garden looks a bit austere at the moment, as any newly planted landscape does, we’re looking forward to a quick and healthy establishment and growth period this spring and summer. For those that miss the striking habit of the Nolinia, no need to panic, they were successfully transplanted to the adjacent cistern slope and new stairs to the south.
Washington Park Arboretum is once again a UW-Restoration Ecology Network capstone site. The student group known as the ”A-Team” has designed a weir system in the north “wet” zone of the holly collection. They will be continuing construction and planting this spring. Ryan and company decided it’s better to flow with nature rather than fight it. This new feature will, over time, become a healthy wetland area and will immediately reduce both UWBG and City Parks maintenance input, i.e., mowing and weed control.
The Winter Garden was in showcase form as it should be during the winter. Roy has been busy procuring new plants primarily for the new drainage area in the SE quadrant of the garden. We’re looking forward to having an updated brochure and map next winter. There’s still time to catch some of the late winter, early spring flowering plants such as Corylopsis and Magnolia.
Gardeners, Rhett and Preston, took on the tatty northeastern most corner of Rhododendron Glen. Pruning out several years worth of Rhododendron rootstock growth and removing deadwood in the grove, removal of several poor or dead specimens, and lots of sheet mulching! Wow, I’ve never seen it so good and I’ve been around these parts a long time.
Chris and Darrin spent several days up at the double parking lot along the Broadmoor fence tackling deferred storm damage cleanup and improving view corridors. I would expect ne’erdowells will think twice about using this area for their dirty deeds for quite some time.
The Lake Washington Blvd curbside area along the Chilean Gateway is vastly improved as a result of over 120 yards of new soil brought in to create “fingers” at the toe of the slope. This new design will hopefully deter pedestrians from walking through the Gateway and stepping on our plants. Also, with improved drainage, we now can grow Elymus magellanicus without drowning its roots. There are also several new Chilean taxa planted throughout the Gateway that over time as they get bigger will create that Wow! sensation, either up close or from a distance. They include: Gunnera magellanica, Ourisia coccinea, Mitraria coccinea to name a few.
Will spring be as boring too? The UWBG horticulture staff certainly hopes so.